There’s a quiet confidence amongst riders in Team Rapha, as they begin their 2009 season. Team Rapha Condor, launched in January 2009 in London is an initiative of the cycling wear company Rapha and legendary bike store Condor Cycles. Kristian has represented Great Britain on both the road and track, winning races in the UK, Australia and on the Continent.
Lets talk about how you first got started in racing and how long have you been racing for?
I got started racing back in 1996 when i lived in Austin Tx. I met a girl, Heidi Armstrong (no relation to Lance) while riding to soccer practice and between her and her boyfriend they got me into a team, which then led me onto Violet Crown and my first coach James Karthouser. They set up an jr program and sent as all over the US. From there i never really looked back.
You switched from the Navigator Squad in the US to Rapha Condor in the UK, in what ways has this affected your career and why did you choose Rapha?
The Navigators setup was really a good thing. I loved being able to race in the European races that i had been watching since moving to Belgium in 98, but then also being able to go back to the states and race where most of my friends were. It was a sad day when Beamon said the team wouldn’t go forward. The move to Rapha really just made sense at the time as my manager from 2006 (as well as the four years prior with the British National Team), John Herety, had said that he was getting together with Rapha to make a new team and we would have a great program. I had a few other options but i had always enjoyed racing in John’s teams so the decision was easy. Once i really got to meet the people at Rapha and Condor and use both the high-performance clothing and bikes i knew the decision was the right one.
Have you had a chance to meet your new Rapha teammates yet?
We have had two training camps at the start of the year in the South of Spain as well as the Team Launch in London, so we all got a chance to meet each other there. The team really got turned on its head from 2008 to 2009, and there were only four of us that stayed on. I did know most of the new guys already but it’s always a bit different when you become teammates. We have a great atmosphere, right from the riders all the way up thru the staff to the employees of the sponsors. It’s a rare thing to have, but we seem to have it!
How was pre season for you? Where are you at with your training at this time of the year?
I spent the European winter out in Australia once again this year, so it really does help to get you going a bit quicker than if you’re in the UK. I spend most of my time in Bendigo and I’ve pretty much being going there for the past 6 years now! Its become like a 2nd (or 3rd?) home. The weather there is almost always perfect for training, sometimes just a little on the hot side. At the moment things are going pretty well. I’m just starting to get my form back from earlier on in the year when i was at the bay crits. I had to take a bit of a break as i was going a little too well, but it’s coming back now.
You have been successful racing in Australia in the past with a stage win in the Herald Sun Tour and winning the Points Classification in 2007 at The Tour of Tasmania, will we see you back racing in Australia?
Without a doubt. I love Australia, and I really enjoy the racing there. We are looking into taking a team out at the end of the year so you might see a few of us there. There’s still a couple races I’d really like to win, like the Melbourne to Warnambol.
What are your goals for 2009 and forthcoming seasons? In which direction do you see your career progressing – Tours, small stage races, classics, etc?
I’ve always been more of a stage racer if I’m honest. I tend to back up well so toward the end of 5 or 6 days I’ve got a bit of an edge. The Rapha Condor team has really got some depth this year, with riders like Tom Southam and Darren Lapthorne, so the pressure is off a bit when it comes to stages races as we don’t just have one card to play. This year I’d really like to win the FDB Ras again and if we go, I’d like to give the Sun Tour a serious shot as well as win Tassie again. That being said the Nationals, The Lincoln and Melbourne to Warnambol are some one day races I’ve got my eye on.
You held the King of the Mountains jersey for three days during The 2008 Tour of Britain, will you be racing the Tour of Britain this year and what are your expectations?
Having the jersey in London like that was pretty amazing. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to get it as the Team’s sponsors are all based out of London. If all goes to plan this year I’ll be racing The Tour of Britain again. I was aiming for a top ten overall last year and i just missed out on it, so ill be looking at doing that, as well as winning a stage.
You recently raced The Tour of Normandie, what was that like? Are you happy with your result and the result of the team?
The Tour of Normandy was probably one of the hardest races I’ve done in the past 3 years. I was nursing a bit of an injury through the race and managed to stay in the racing, it was just a bit unlucky that the breaks we did get into didn’t quite make it to the line. The team did suffer a bit with illness but i think overall we came out of it with positive things. It’s such a big step up from some of the UK races we do… but for me that’s the real racing. I look forward to going back to France for our next stage race already…
The Rapha team has a lot of races on the schedule (including Tour of Japan, and Tour of Ireland). Which of those will you hope to take part in and are there any races on the schedule that you feel you or others on the Rapha team can do well in?
We have a great program this year, and the team has taken a bit of a different approach to selecting races. Rather than doing the same stage and one day races we’ve been doing for a few years now, they’ve looked at where Rapha and Condor really want/need to expose their products to the community. It’s great for us as we end up racing in places like Japan, USA, South Africa and Australia. So it makes for a very exciting year.
Tell us about the new Condor bikes you’re riding this season, have you had a chance to put in some kilometres?
The new bike is stunning. I cannot get over how stiff the front end of the bike is – it’s really responsive. That combined with how the bottom bracket has been strengthened makes for a really fast bike. The new dura ace is great, and looks so much cleaner without the cables.
I believe you ride with SRM cranks? How does having SRM affect your performance? Are you a rider who has to study your power output and statistics?
Yeah, i ride with the SRM system, although i don’t live by it. I use it to train specifically during certain blocks. I try not to race with it too much and make sure i do just train without paying too much attention to the numbers… i think that some people forget how to ‘feel’ the bike when using the power systems too much. It’s a tool, and like any tool you have to use it properly, otherwise there is no point.
Thanks for your time, good luck and we hope to catch up with you throughout the season.
Website: Team Rapha Condor