Ian Stanard Interview: In good form for Flanders and Roubaix
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Saturday, April 02, 2011

Ian Stanard Interview: In good form for Flanders and Roubaix

by Ed Hood at 10:09 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Spring Classics
 
British Sky Proteam rider goes close in Gent-Wevelgem

Ian StannardThe cobbled Classics season has started well for Team Sky; Aussie CJ Sutton won from a huge bunch at Kuurne; Welshman Geraint Thomas took second to a resurgent Nick Nuyens (Saxo & Belgium) in Dwars door Vlaanderen and on Sunday it was Englishman Ian Stannard’s turn to follow the thin blue line on the roads between Gent and Wevelgem.

Part of a quality break away with Sylvain Chavanel (QuickStep & France) and Liquigas flyers Maciej Bodnar (Poland) and Peter Sagan (Slovakia), the big man from Chelmsford then made a solo move within site of the finish only for a feral peloton to swamp him in the last two hundred metres.

Things didn’t work out in terms of the victory, but his form is clearly very good and he’ll keep trying.

Stannard began to acquire his taste for standing on podiums back in 2003, with placings in the British youth road and cyclo cross championships. Within a year he was national junior TT champion and winner of the junior Tour of Ireland.

The progression continued in 2005 with wins in junior road races in Belgium and Switzerland, not to mention a European junior team pursuit championship.

For 2006 he was with Dutch team Van Vliet and stepping up to gold medal level in the European U23 team pursuit championship as well as winning the U23 Stuttgart six day. He won the traditional season opening Eddie Soens GP in England and took out Milano – Busseto, ending the season as a stagiaire with T-Mobile.

No nonsense Belgian squad Landbouwkrediet was ‘home’ for 2008 with third in the GC of the Tour of Britain probably his strongest result. Luca Scinto’s ISD squadra then welcomed him for 2009 with a TTT win in the Coppi-Bartali and a Giro finish coming his way.

But the Sky was the limit last season and as well as a heroic third in a brutal Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, he took shares in another TTT win in the Tour of Qatar and a hard earned bronze medal in a tough British Elite road championship in Pendle. He’s on the verge of a big win and it will hopefully come in the days and weeks ahead.

VeloNation caught up with him two days after his excellent performance at Wevelgem.

VeloNation: What was the Sky game plan for Sunday, Ian?

Ian Stannard: We wanted to get at least four guys with the leaders over the top of the Kemmel for the second time because the roads are small after that and the attacks go. As it happened we had five up there.

VN: That was a strong break you were in…

IS: Yeah but we were never allowed much time, 40 seconds was about the maximum. I had to be a bit wary with the two Liquigas riders there – but of course Bodnar was dropped, eventually.

Before that happened I was thinking that they’d start to attack me.

Ian StannardVN: What are the positioning battles like, coming into the hills?

IS: We did a recce ride over the course on Thursday and it's obvious that it’s crucial to be at the front on those narrow roads.

VN: Did that apprenticeship you served with Landbouwkrediet and ISD help?

IS: It’s hard riding for the smaller teams; less so ISD than Landbouwkrediet, but at Sky you have the likes of Juan Antonio Flecha, Jez Hunt and Matthew Hayman who give you such good advice. On the small teams you largely just have to fend for yourself, and that makes it tough.

VN: Did you begin to think the break could stay away?

IS: Initially I didn’t think that it could, not with two Liquigas; but as the kilometres clicked down I began to think that there was a chance for us.

VN: Sagan criticised your work rate…

IS: I think that I did my fair share of work in the break – I did some big turns, especially after Bodnar was dropped, so I’m not sure what he’s going on about.

VN: And when you went, Sagan couldn’t counter…

IS: I was feeling strong and managed to take a little breather, I could feel that the peloton was catching us so I went with about two K to go.

VN: When did you get swamped?

IS: I think at about 200 metres to go, I put my head down and just went - I could even smell the finish!

VN: Did the Belgian media make a fuss?

IS:
No – well, there was a little interview for TV. That was it.

VN: What happened to Geraint [Thomas]? He looked a tad muddy at the end...

IS: Yeah, he looked like he’d been out digging the garden! He was taking a drink and a FDJ rider clipped his wheel and brought him down, but he was lucky to land on the soft stuff. It’s a shame because the whole team was going well on Sunday but we didn’t get a result.

VN: You’ve definitely stepped up a level this year…

Ian StannardIS: Definitely, the first two seasons with Landbouwkrediet and ISD you’re thinking; “it’s nice to be a pro” but you don’t actually learn much.

With Sky I feel much more part of the team and my confidence has grown – and as I said, you get such good advice from your team mates.

VN: How do you recover after a day like Wevelgem?

IS: I did an hour on Monday, two hours today, Tuesday and tomorrow I’ll listen to my body and do a longer run according to how I feel – and I might do a bit behind the motorbike.

It’s a fine line between resting and backing off too much and your body shutting down.

VN:
Are you riding the Tour of Flanders and Paris – Roubaix?

IS:
Yes, I’m riding both – we’ll have a team meet on Saturday to discuss tactics for Sunday.

Which is all very well, but in a race like that anything can happen and your plan has to be versatile – although Flecha will be our leader for both races.

VN:
Did you get a nice Belgian beer after Wevelgem?

IS: No, I had to fly home, I’ll get one after Roubaix.

VN:
When you’re among the mud on some cobbled berg, do ever think about nice warm velodromes?

IS: Nah! I don’t miss velodromes one bit, there’s nothing worse than your legs not working properly, pedalling squares behind some derny lapping an empty track.

I’d much sooner be charging around Belgium…!

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