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South Africa 2014

Hi All,

As you may well of seen I returned to South Africa this November to ride with the Hot Chillee Team at the Coronation Double Century Race which is organised by the Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust and starts in Swellendam it’s a brutal 200km team time trial with over 250 teams and over 2,700 riders so a big old event.

I was also in Cape Town to catch up with Nic Dlamini, whom I have been mentoring along with Stephen Roche for the last year or so. Nic had a great year on the bike and I was able to congratulate him on his first pro contract that begins in 2015 with MTB-Qhubeka.

Our team for the Coronation Race that included myself and Nic finished second a fine result as we went one place better than last year! Obviously in 2015 we now need to win it!

Here are some photos and a little video from my time out in Cape Town.

Nic and I with some of the kids from his local town Khayelitsha

The race was hard...but the conditions, pretty good!

The race was hard…but the conditions, pretty good!

 

SA truly is a beautiful place to ride a bike!

SA truly is a beautiful place to ride a bike!

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Was really happy to be able to congratulate Nic on his contract with MTN-Qhubeka.
Good luck in 2015!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Milan-San Remo

November Blog – 2014 review and 2015 preparation

Hello Everyone,

As autumn passes and winter closes in I hope you are all coping well with the colder weather and the lack of cycling to watch! Now the off season is upon us I thought It might be nice to give you a few of my thoughts and feelings about the 2014 season and also have a little look forward to 2015.

Looking back my highlights from a personal point of view would have to be coming 3rd at Milan San Remo and my win on stage 5 of Pais Vasco (Tour of the Basque Country).  Although I did not win, Milan San Remo was perhaps the most special not just because the stature of the race but because I felt truly back at my best and able to not only compete but beat the majority of the top one day racers in the world on that day.  MSR is my favourite race to ride also, so it was a good day all round apart from the weather! Although that worked in my favour as I really don’t mind riding in those conditions.

If MSR was my favorite race to ride, when the Tour came to Yorkshire was easily my favorite race to watch! It was an amazing day, the crowds and buzz around the place created such a fun atmosphere.

Sometimes when we are racing that fun element can get suppressed a little but one race sticks out in my in my mind this season, at the Coppi e Bartali race we had our fare share of laughs! There was 8 of us on the team and we had to slum it in a camper-van as we did not have the Team Sky bus (I know the horror!)  So it was right back to basics but we definitely had a great time, it was like the old days travelling as a junior with all the lads crammed in a tiny bus, but the atmosphere was really positive and it showed in our results as we won most of the stages except one where I came second! With of course Pete (Kennaugh) winning the whole race, good times!

Tour of Poland - Stage 5

Seb Henao had a great season, here he is attacking in Poland. Photo: Graham Watson

Pete had a good season but the rider who impressed me most this year on the team has been Seb Henao, our young Colombian rider. He’s always there when you ask him to be in a race and socially he’s fitted into the Team really well. He’s also had some fantastic individual performances on the bike all this from a 20-year-old neo pro is very impressive and shows he has so much potential.

In terms of my performance throughout the season I feel the main improvement has been in my climbing, I’ve focused on it again this year and I know some of my best results are aligned with my improved climbing ability. It’s confirmed to me that’s the direction I want to go in for next season, a rider who can race the lumpier stages with sprint finishes or big one day races like MSR.

Another positive was my stamina during the season and this correlates to my good results at the tail end of the season so all in all I’m very excited for 2015 in fact I just want to get racing again, I’m only taking a break because the seasons finished! I feel strong and at a good level already.

These fitness levels were tested recently at the team camp in Weymouth when we went sailing with the GB team, the new signings for 2015 also came along so it was good to meet them in a slightly different environment than say a training camp, that will come soon enough though when we all hook up in December for the first pre season camp.

This year I’ll have a proper injury free pre season so along with riding I’ll be able to do a lot more gym work with a focus on TRX training which uses your own body weight to drive the workout, I’ve found this training really effective as its helped me eradicate some recent muscle injuries

Before all that however, I am now in sunny South Africa for a spot of pre season riding that will include the Double Century race with the guys from HotChillee! Can’t wait! And here are a few tunes i’ll be listening to when I’m out there…

Keep safe people and thanks for all the support this season…I’ll update on my progress again soon!

Cheers for now

Ben

My new crash avoidance technique!

Thanks to the fan who captured this…I fully intend to use this technique to avoid all future crashes!

Tuscany training film…

Me and Russ Downing went to Tuscany mid season for a spot of extra training…here is a short film to show you what we got up to, some of it you definitely won’t find in any text book!

ponferrada-race-poster-640

September Blog – Racing, resting and the Worlds!

Hi All,
First up thanks for all the positive messages on my re – signing with Team Sky, the new contract has helped augment my current feeling of positivity!

I’m feeling good and It’s been great to get a full year of racing under my belt, by the time this season closes out I will have raced nearly 13,000KM.

These miles will give me a really solid base for my winter training as I have felt on occasions this season that I am missing that little bit of depth that a full winters training gives you, though on the upside I’m feeling more mentally fresh in the latter part of the season, so I am  happy to be doing the later races and looking forward to a full winter program…No rest for the wicked!

My race program and schedule have been carefully planned so as to get me in good form for this part of the year as I have had my eye on doing a good ride at the Worlds.

I took a complete break in July after a heavy spring and early summer and that mid-season break has enabled me to come back in pretty good shape and since then I have been building up form by doing the right type of races and training that will allow my body to be as fresh as possible for the Worlds.

Taking a break is actually the hard part as it’s far too easy to keep pushing and pushing, so I have had to listen to my body and make sure not to push too hard, we will soon see if the strategy has worked, unfortunately its never an exact science!

Seb and I warming up at the TOB

Seb and I warming up at the TOB

The Tour of Britain was a good form builder and a tough test one main reason is because the roads are so heavy!

Lots of rain means heavier, grippy tarmac and the roads just make you feel really bad though it was encouraging that when the hammer went down, I came around and could race most of the finishes

The TOB is a special race for any British rider that races mainly in Europe, its an awesome feeling to be able to come home and race in front of a home crowd and now that TOB is getting a higher profile with bigger billing this only adds to the event.

Although hard, I really enjoyed it and the TOB is turning into a great race to prep for the worlds, its 8 days of solid racing with some testing long stages. I think every body that raced it this year was ready for a few easy days after the race!

Taking on a recovery drink at the TOB

Taking on a recovery drink at the TOB

So my next race is the Worlds, it goes without saying that I am very happy to be a part of the team and its always a special moment when you pull on that national jersey. The course is very interesting and one that I liked the look of when I went to reccy it in the summer.

It could make for a strange race and it’s definitely not straight forward, the profile and the circuit allows a variety of options for race strategy and with 14 laps to complete it’s also very hard.

There are teams there that will not want to bring it to any sort of sprint, which means it will be hard for a long time and for me it’s going to be about trying to survive the climbs as best I can, but we have a great team with a lot of cards to play and I am very much looking forward to it.

I am heading out really early to spend a bit of time there and get into the environment in order to give myself the best possible chance.

Hope to see you out there! As always thanks for your continued support

Ben

Tour of Britain - Stage 2

New Contract with Team Sky

Hi All, I’m really happy to announce my new  2 year contract with Team Sky…

I’ve been with Team Sky since the start and five years on it really does feel like home. To keep that
relationship going was really important so I’m delighted to be staying for another two years.
I already have one eye on next season and with this team I know I can deliver some good results.

I really do feel part of the foundations of this team, having grown up with so many of the riders
and staff.

I’ve known many of them since the start of my career and have been guided by the likes of Sir Dave Brailsford and Rod Ellingworth for years, which has made me the rider I am today.

With the team’s support I’ve been able to grow and develop as a rider and by staying here I know that will continue.

London-Surrey Classic

RideLondon

It’s a shame i could not take the win, but thanks for all the messages of support ! And well done to Adam and all who participated in the Sportive in shocking conditions.  I’m now currently on my way back from Hamburg and the Vattenfall classics readying myself for a new block of training and end of season racing!

Leading the group up Box Hill

Leading the group up Box Hill

 

 

Tour of Switzerland - Stage One

July Blog – looking back and looking forward!

Hi All
Its been a while since I have posted an update though I’m sure you can understand we are slap bang in the middle of the season now and the races and training are coming thick and fast!

First up I have to mention Froomey and how much I felt for him after he had to leave the Tour.  Chris and the team had worked so hard to make sure that they were in the best shape to win again, but as a professional you have to be philosophical sometimes and this is bike racing!  I’ve spoken about it a few times injuries, and crashes are just a part of the job and you get on with it. But there is no doubt not having Froomey and Cav at the Tour is disappointing for everyone and what with AC out now it should make for a very interesting race. So I wish Richie and the guys the best of luck and currently it looks like its shaping up very well for the team.

My last race was the British Nationals, which I really enjoyed as it was a great event and it’s rare that we get to race our teammates. I have known Pete for a long time now I know how he rides and his strengths and I knew for the last 30km’s he would be trying to get rid of me! But a sprint after a race like that is not a normal sprint. It’s more about who has position and who is that little bit fresher and stronger and Pete on the day had all 3.

Looking back I was happy with how the race went and it was good to get on the podium but its never nice to lose when I came so close to winning especially in such a significant race.

Before the Nationals I was in Italy for the Giro which of course was an amazing experience, we had a great “racing” type team and I felt that we really tried to win stages.

We didn’t have a clear GC leader, but we still always had a race plan to try and achieve our target for the day, that set up is pretty rare in a grand Tour especially for Team Sky and it was refreshing be able to race in this way. The Belfast start was incredible, everybody really got behind the race and I hope that the Giro visit has a lasting effect in the city.

One problem for me though was that it was also tinged with big disappointment, to come so close to winning a stage was frustrating though I soon got over my frustrations as we moved back to Italy and started riding the iconic climbs that filled the latter stages.

On the Stelvio and Zoncolan there is so much history so as a bike racing fan as well as a rider you can’t help but be excited to ride them even though they hurt and if you were watching the race on TV you will know the weather could have been better! But again it’s just another factor that you need to manage physically and mentally, in the end we used it as a positive and it gave the team a sense of cohesiveness and achievement racing in those conditions. I’m used to riding in bad weather but I can’t say it’s ever easy or enjoyable!

Tour de Suisse - Stage 9After the Giro there was little time to rest and it was straight into the Tour De Suisse, which was always a big target for me this year. I was adamant I wanted to do it even when I got the call to do the Giro but there is no doubt coming straight from Italy I felt some underlying fatigue. I have done a lot of training and racing this year already and that caught up with me a little in Switzerland, I felt strong and was climbing well but lacked that little bit of zip in my legs.

It was understandable but annoying at the same time!  We also had some pretty rotten luck with injuries and I hope Sergio makes a speedy recovery.

So after a little break and a recon of the world’s circuit in Ponferadda, Northern Spain, I’m off to Nice for a team training camp and to ramp up my training for The Tour of Poland and the final part of the season!

Thanks for your continued support on the road and on line it really means a lot

Take care

Ben