Dan Fleeman interview: Team Raleigh leader reflects on 2010 and looks ahead
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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Dan Fleeman interview: Team Raleigh leader reflects on 2010 and looks ahead

by Ed Hood at 4:52 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Double national hillclimb champion plans to structure things differently in 2011

Dan FleemanDan Fleeman of the British Continental squad Raleigh first came to prominence in 2004 with a win in the British Under 23 road race championships; that performance came little more than a year after a bad crash which left him with smashed knees and the prospect of never racing again.

The following two seasons saw him take the path trodden by so many ambitious British cyclists before him, and he moved to France for 2005 and 2006.

Performances like winning the Prix De La St. Amour and a stage in the Tour of the Beaujolais gained him a contract with the ultimately ill-starred, Belgian based DFL team for 2007.

The experience he gained there earned him a slot with Sean Kelly’s An Post team for 2008 where he was a member of the winning TTT squad in the Tour of Extremadura. There, team mate and now Garmin-Cervelo pro, Dan Lloyd, went on to win on GC, backed strongly by Fleeman.

That year also saw a strong top ten ride in the Tour of Britain by the 28 year-old from Lichfield. But it was his winning ride in the tough Tour of the Pyrenees stage race which was instrumental in his signing with the Cervelo Test Team for 2009.

The year started well for Fleeman with a top 20 ride in the GP di Lugano but a broken wrist and subsequent surgery in the Bayern Rundfahrt meant a big gap in his programme at the peak of the season. Despite strong climbing performances in the late season Italian Classics and a crushing win in the British Hill Climb Championship, Cervelo did not renew his contract for 2010.

After a winter of ‘false starts’ and let downs in contract negotiations with European teams, Fleeman accepted a solid two year contract offer from the newly-resurrected British Raleigh team at the start of 2010. He recently took time to discuss with VeloNation how the year went, shortly after his second straight win in the British Hill Climb Championship, on Dover’s Hill, Gloucester.

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VeloNation: Congratulations on your national hill climb win, Dan…it was a closer winning margin this year than last…

Dan Fleeman: I won by seven seconds over 1.35 kilometres, so it wasn’t exactly ‘close-run.’ The gradient was actually only tough for the first 1100 metres, after that it levelled off significantly. I was up to recce the hill twice in the week before and my game plan was to go flat out from the bottom and treat the 1100 metre mark as the finish. I knew I could hang on and not lose too much time from there to the actual finish line.

I spoke to the guys from i-Performance – their nutritionist, Barry Murray advises me on diet - and their sports scientists Jamie Pringle and Dave Bailey told me what wattage I’d have to produce to do a time which would win. So I knew before I started what I had to do.

Dan FleemanVN: How has it been returning to the UK race scene after all those seasons abroad?

DF: Since I last raced here there are a lot more teams and they ride as teams – it’s much more organised than six or seven years ago. The races are shorter and it’s a different style of racing to the continent – there are a lot of short hills, which make it tough and attacks tend to go from the gun.

The right break tends to go early – in the first hour - and once it does that’s it; it’s the exact opposite of the continent where generally the winning break won’t go until the last hour. On the continent, the race is the last hour; but by that time in Britain everyone is on their knees.

VN: What were your season highlights?

DF: I was pleased with my ride in the National Champs where I was seventh and was happy that I got the same placing in the Rutland – that’s one of the few UCI races in the UK, it has a lot of Paris-Roubaix style dirt roads and shouldn’t really suit a lightweight like me.

I was seventh too on GC in the Tour of the Pyrenees (Spain); and was top 15 in the Ringerike (Norway) and the Trofeu Joaquim Agostinho (Portugal) stage races.

I went well in UCI races but would like to have done better in UK domestic races. It was a year where I didn’t have any great peaks but at the same time didn’t have any real bad spells. For 2011 I’m going to aim to peak better for certain events.

VN: What sort of changes are planned at Raleigh for 2011?

DF: Eddie White and Cherie Pridhim, who were the management team with the Plowman-Craven squad, are taking over that role with Raleigh.

Liam Holohan, Richard Handley and myself are the only three riders retained. We have a couple of Americans and a Canadian rider joining us. I’m a wee bit surprised that Dale Appleby and Dan Shand have been let go, they are talented riders, on their day.

We haven’t sat down yet and discussed the programme but we’ll be doing that in the next few weeks.

VN: What’s your winter preparation going to look like?

DF: The first thing I’ll have to get out of the way is to have an operation on my nose, the airways are bent; I must have had a whack on it when I was young.

I’ll be starting at the end of November and I’ll be aiming to peak for specific UK races. I’ll be doing shorter rides at higher intensities; when I was with An Post in 2008, I didn’t train longer than three-and-a-half to four hours and had a very good season.

Dan FleemanVN: Will the British Elite road champs be a goal?

DF: It’s up in the North East of England…the course is used for Premier calendar races and the champs will be cover the Premier course with one extra lap to give 200 kilometres plus – I’m looking forward to it.

VN: With the collection of teams racing at home, do you think a young British rider should still head for the continent in search of fame?

DF: Yes, get exposure to the different culture and style of racing. In the UK there’s a Premier Calendar races once every three or four weeks – in France there are 60 or more races of that standard each year.

You can always come back – but I can’t think of anyone who’s signed a contract with a Pro Tour team off the back of a UK programme.

VN: You were a Cervelo man – were you surprised about how the team ended?

DF: Everyone was…the management wandered in one afternoon without any warning and said; ‘the team is finished!’ I don’t think anyone saw it coming.

VN: Do you have any unfinished business in cycling?

DF: I’d really like to ride a Grand Tour.

VN: We hear you’re thinking about your career, post-peloton…

DF: Yeah, I’m getting involved in a bike shop with a mate of mine…www.cycleshackonline.co.uk. It’ll be a shop and cafe. It’s close to Cannock chase which is great cycling country for both road and mountain bikes. We’ll be opening shortly and hope to have Roger Hammond there to do the honours. I’ve become involved with half an eye on the time when I don’t race any more.

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