Andy Fenn Interview: “There’s a lot of opportunities here, so hopefully at least one will come off”
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Friday, February 22, 2013

Andy Fenn Interview: “There’s a lot of opportunities here, so hopefully at least one will come off”

by Ben Atkins at 5:28 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Tour de Langkawi
 
Young Omega Pharma-Quick Step sprinter hunting glory in Langkawi

andy FennAt just 22 years of age, Andy Fenn is starting his second season with WorldTour ProTeam Omega Pharma-Quick Step. The English-born Scot burst onto the elite scene last year with victory in two of the four races in the Challenge Mallorca - the Trofeo Palma and Trofeo Migjorn - and, after the solid season that followed, is looking to build further in 2013.

Fenn is currently racing as part of Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s six-man team in the tour de Langkawi, in Malaysia, where he hopes to be able to take at least one opportunity to get his next stage victory.

In recent years, the sprint stages in Langkawi have been dominated by one or two riders but, with a number of big name sprinters at the race this year, feats like Andrea Guardini’s taking of eleven stages in two years look less likely.

“Guardini’s won five or six stages in the last couple of years, but I think it’ll be difficult to do the same this year,” Fenn told VeloNation. “Especially as you’ve got guys like Theo [Bos, Blanco, who won stage one - ed], for GreenEdge you’ve got [Aidis] Kruopis, even Garmin have got [Steele] Von Hoff, so pretty much all the WorldTour teams here have got a good sprinter and then obviously there’s loads of other sprinters; there’s [Vini Fantini-Selle Italia] with [Francesco] Chicchi.

“Already you’ve got nine or ten decent sprinters, and their teams will obviously be trying to help them,” Fenn added. “It’s not like they’ll just be looking for breakaways and things like that.”

With that many fast men all battling at the end of each stage therefore, sprints are virtually inevitable, but will be tough for one team to control.

“There are a lot of teams that are going to be trying to make a sprint so its going to get a bit messy, and obviously you’re going to need a bit of luck as well,” Fen explained.

“Being that dominant is going to be quite difficult, but hopefully we’re going to try.”

The Omega Pharma-Quick Step team will certainly be one of those battling for the front in the flatter stages but, unlike others in the race, has come with overall ambitions as well.

“We’ve got a bit of a mix,” said Fenn. “We’ve got Serve [Pauwels] and [Pieter] Serry for the GC, but I think we’ll be all in on the sprint. When you’ve only got six guys, you kind of have to use everyone you can.

“When the GC day comes we’ll try and put someone in there, then either go for GC or try for stages.

“I’m quite confident,” he added. “I’m not going to take too much from the first day anyway, I think if you go well, you do, and if you don’t, you don’t. It’s always difficult with travelling and everything.”

Fenn’s season began at the Santos Tour Down Under, as it did last year; instead of returning to Europe, however, or competing in the Tours of Qatar and Oman, he stayed on in the southern hemisphere, which he hopes has prepared him well for the heat of Malaysia.

“I’ve been in Australia training,” he explained. “There’s a lot of opportunities here, so hopefully at least one will come off. That’s the main thing I think.

“We stayed in Australia for a few weeks, so it should make it a bit easier coming here - less jet lag - and it’s good training out there, actually, so I just hope the forms okay. There’s not too many guys out here that have raced that much, anyway, I think Guardini’s raced the most, he’s done everything so far.”

New faces relieving the pressure at Omega Pharma-Quick Step

The Omega Pharma-Quick Step roster remains largely unchanged for 2013, but the obvious difference from last year has been the arrival of former World champion Mark Cavendish. Belgian hero Tom Boonen has already stated that the Manx Missile’s arrival has taken a lot of pressure off his own shoulders, and it has made a lot of difference to the rest of the team’s sprinting outfit as well.

“It’s not a bad thing obviously,” Fenn smiled. “[Gerard] Ciolek and Chicchi both moved to different teams. Last year we had four or five lower level sprinters, and now we’ve got the best sprinter in the World, so obviously at the Grand Tours, and things like Sanremo we know we’ve got the best sprinter there.”

While Cavendish’s arrival may knock Fenn a little way down the sprint pecking order, the 22-year-old realises that it also could mean big things in terms of his own development in the long term.

“It maybe affects my chances of riding the Tour this year, or at least going for a result,” he smiled. “But in the smaller races I’ve now got my own opportunity there, which I’m quite happy about, which helps me develop and learn. It takes the pressure off a bit, if he’s winning the big races and I’m getting close in the small ones, so it helps me in a way, and I can obviously learn a lot from him.

“I can only get better from trying to lead him out. He’s really good at getting the team how he wants it, and he’s got off to a good start in Qatar. Things should be okay actually.”

So, like Boonen, Fenn sees Cavendish’s arrival as good for himself personally, as well as simply a boost to the team’s win count for the season.

“I think it does take some pressure off,” he said. “I know Tom is totally focussed on the Classics now. I don’t know if he does the Tour or not, I know he’s not too much of a fan of doing it for the stress and the sprints; he’s not interested in the sprints any more, and with Cav he’s got a good reason not to be the last guy sprinting. If he’s his lead out guy, I don’t know, I don’t know what’s actually going to happen…

“But for me it means I can maybe ride the Vuelta and maybe take my opportunity there, and still get a good race programme.”

On Fenn’s return to Europe he will line up alongside his compatriot for the first time, as the Manxman aims at his fourth title in one of the late Cobbled Classics.

“I think I’m riding with him in the Scheldeprijs, which will be the first time we’ve raced together,” Fenn confirmed. “We’ll see how that works; I’ll definitely learn a lot and have my own opportunities, which is a good mix actually.”

Many have already stated that the atmosphere within the Omega Pharma-Quick Step team is a good one, and that Cavendish’s arrival has added to this. This is something that Fenn concurs with as he starts his second season with the WorldTour squad.

“It’s a really good atmosphere, and always has been,” Fenn said. “Even last year when I first came here it was really good. I’m really happy here, with Cav coming in he’s fitted in really well; there’s no problems there. He’s already got the team off to a good start and that obviously helps with fitting in with the team as well.

“I think we’ve got a good mix now. We haven’t got a GC guy, not a big GC guy. We’ve got guys like Tony Martin, who can win a lot of races, but I don’t think a team can have everything now.

“I think we can do well in the Classics, win a few stages of the Giro and the Tour, and I think it’ll be a pretty good season,” he smiled.

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