Young guns series: Andy Fenn makes perfect ProTeam debut
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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Young guns series: Andy Fenn makes perfect ProTeam debut

by Reno Van Dael at 10:12 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Background to Omega Pharma Quick Step’s neo-pro star

Andy FennAt the end of each season, there are riders who decide to retire or step down to the amateur leagues of cycling, sometimes forced by injury or contracts not being extended. The void they leave behind is filled with new riders, who either step up from U23 league or have some experience already riding for a continental team. In the coming weeks VeloNation will introduce you to some of the most promising or most noticeable riders, whom you may or may not have heard of before, but if case you haven't, you definitely will have at the end of the season and in the years to come.


What better way to make a ProTeam debut than grabbing two big wins in some of your first races? It’s a very rare thing to do, but it’s something that Andy Fenn achieved on consecutive days this month.

Just twenty one years of age now, he already has a palmares many aspiring young riders are surely jealous of. His first pro win at the Trofeo Palma de Mallorca might have raised a few eye brows. It’s early in the season and it’s just a criterium, others might counter. But Fenn backed it up the very next day at the Trofeo Migjorn, at decent 171 km road race, and this shows his first pro win wasn’t just a fluke.

It caught many riders and followers by surprise, although not so much those who followed Fenn through the junior and U23 years.

Born in Birmingham, England, he followed his father’s footsteps into mountain biking at the age of five and picked up his first British title at the age of ten. He changed his MTB bike for a track bike soon after his parents moved to North London, where he found a velodrome right next door and joined the local cycle club, the Welwyn Wheelers.

It was a time when the British cycling program started off and the country’s most talented young were invited to join. Fenn was one of those and through the program, he received a well structured guidance that was to support him as he developed through the years and, all going to plan, into a successful career.

Before long, success followed when he won the junior edition of Paris-Roubaix in 2008. He rode a strong finale there and beat a certain Peter Sagan by twelve seconds. Furthermore, he added to his collection a series of national medals, both on road and track. More significantly he took European junior titles in the pursuit and team pursuit, raising expectations.

All that considered, it was no surprise that his achievements were noticed by the Olympic Development Program, lead by former professional, Max Sciandri. Fenn moved to Italy to join the British base in Quarrata, Tuscany and learned the tricks of trade on the high level Italian U23 calendar.

That included two participations in the Giro Bio, one of the world’s most important races where young riders showcase their talents.

Fenn continued to build strength and because his mother is Scotish, he opted to represent that country at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi. He helped his countryman David Millar to a third place, then finished thirteenth himself.

It was time for Fenn to move up a level, but he was advised not to step up to the World Tour right away. That would have been too big a step to take at the age of twenty. With a base in Belgium, he joined the An
Post Sean Kelly in 2010, the half-Irish-half-Belgian Continental team where he’d learn the traits of typical Belgian races, races that would suit his characteristics.

He quickly won the Memorial Philippe Van Coningsloo (1.2) and was selected for the U23 Nations Cup version of Paris-Roubaix, where he finished fifth.

Fenn was making waves and being noticed by a lot of people. His most noticeable result would follow late in the season, at the U23 World Championship road race in Copenhagen, where he finished third behind the unbeatable French duo, Arnaud Demare and Adrian Petit. They proved to be best on that day, but third was good too. By now World Tour teams were eager to sign him up.

One would expect Team Sky to be a logical next step, but his manager Paul de Geyter and British Academy coach Shane Sutton advised against it. Team Sky had already signed up Luke Rowe and it would be better for Fenn to join Omega Pharma Quick Step, guided by Patrick Lefevre. He did just that, inking a two year deal.

Fenn was already living in Aarschot, Belgium. He didn’t have to move to another location, so that worked out well,. Besides, it’s likely to also to the delight of his girl friend Lucy Martin, who rides for the Dutch AA Drink Leontien.nl team, formerly the Garmin-Baracuda squad.

Like many, we’ll be keeping a close eye on Fenn’s progress in the pro peloton this season and in the years to come.

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