Ben Grenda of Launceston, Tasmania has cycling in his blood, his father Michael was a professional cyclist in the eighties and his grandfather Ronald made a name for himself on the track in the sixties. He was part of the Genesys Wealth Advisers team in 2010 and has now made the leap over to Europe to join the Rock Werchter Cycling Team in Duffel, Belgium.
Ben, or Tangles as he is known, had a successful career at Genesys with solid results throughout 2010. Some of his recent commendable placements include an 8th on Stage 5 of the 2010 Tour de Taiwan, 9th at the u/23 ITT Championship and 11th at the Australian Road Cycling Championship.
Other results in his young career have included the Launceston Wheel Race 2006 victory, Winner of Tour of Bright Sprint Classifications in 2009, 3rd in the Australian Teams Pursuit Championship in 2008 and 4th in the 2010 Under 23 Australian Criterium Championships.
RC spoke with Ben Grenda for Bicycles.net.au (BNA) on the eve of his European debut.
BNA: Can you introduce yourself for us.
Grenda: I am a 20 year old cyclist from Launceston spending the year based in Duffel, Belgium to ride for the Rock Werchter- S.O.S Piet Cycling Team.
BNA: What kind of rider are you, a sprinter, climber?
Grenda: I am a bit of an all rounder. I can sprint a bit and get over a climb as well. I also like to go in the breakaway.
BNA: You rode for the Genesys Wealth cycling team, how has riding for the Genesys team helped you get to where you are today as a cyclist?
Grenda: Riding for the last two years with Praties/Genesys has done a lot for me as a rider. Andrew and Steve have given me the opportunity to do many races in the National Road Series and two tours in Asia. The exposure to racing, experiences, tactics I have learnt and also learning to race as a team and work in a team environment have been great experiences for me. The results I have had riding with them have also given me the opportunity to race for a team overseas.
BNA: What has been the highlight of your career?
Grenda: The highlight of my career so far has been winning the national u/23 criterium title in January. That was a good day for me.
BNA: Are you excited by your new team coming into 2011?
Grenda: I am very excited coming into the Rock Werchter – S.O.S Piet Cycling Team. They have been very welcoming to me and have made my move over to Belgium very easy. They have very knowledgeable staff, a great race program and a very professional set up with all of the bikes and vehicles etc. so now I can’t wait to start racing with them.
Rock Werchter and S.O.S Piet Cycling Team Presentation on Tuesday 22 February.
BNA: How does it feel to be riding with likes of Sulzberger, Porte, Goss etc?
Grenda: Although I won’t be racing them this year, it is great for the couple of months they are home in Tassie to train with them. It’s pretty cool that at home we can go for a ride with some of the worlds best pro’s and that they will share their stories from the year with us and we can pick their brains for some tips along the way. It’s also good to get some hard training in before the nationals.
BNA: Tell us about your training camp you just had in Spain. And what are your plans for the 2011 season
Grenda: We just had our training camp for a week in Benicassim, Spain. It’s a great location for training because you can ride along the flat roads by the beach or head into the mountains just behind and do some 20km climbs. We did some long rides the biggest day being 200km with about 3000m of climbing. The hot mix roads were perfect for training and the weather was about 15 degrees warmer than in Belgium. I think it was just what everyone needed a couple of weeks out from the start of the racing season.
BNA: What about the other team members, do you all get on well, is it good to have experienced riders in the team does it help?
Grenda: All of the guys on the team get on well. Everyone is aged between 18 and 25 and are all really motivated to have a good season. I think it’s going to be good to have a couple of older guys on the team who have ridden most of the races before and can share the experience on race day.
BNA: How much training do you get -What is your average training week like? Is it all on the bike or do you spend time in the gym?
Grenda: At the moment I’m doing 600-800km per week with some sprints, S.E etc. depending on what races are coming up and what time of the season it is. I try to do a core work out a couple of times a week but I don’t got to the gym. All of my training is done on the bike basically.
BNA: Does the team set out a plan for you for 2011?
Grenda: The team has given all of the riders the race program for the year. We also have a team training ride every Sunday. Selections for the races are made on who the course suit and who is in form.
BNA: What are your goals for 2011?
Grenda: For 2011 I want to learn to race the Belgium style of races in the wind and on the cobbles. I also want to become a stronger rider and get as many results as possible for the team as I can.
BNA: What is your first race?
Grenda: My first race is brussel – opwijk
BNA: You recently got a new Colnago, tell us about your bike?
Grenda: The new bike is awesome. It’s a Colnago CLX 2.0 with Campag Chorus 11 Speed and FSA bars, stem and cranks. We are also running prologo saddles, time pedals and Mavic wheels. This is the third Colnago I have had over the years and it feels great like the others. It was very easy to set up into my position and the bike looks even and balanced. It is also the first time I have ridden Campag and I love it. So far there are no complaints from me.
BNA: Tell us how did you get the nick name Tangles?
Grenda: Tangles came from my coach Matt Gilmore a few years ago when I was growing. For a while I was all arms and legs and a bit unco both on and off the bike. But luckily for me I have grown into my self now and the unco days are gone.
Thanks for giving us your time, good luck in 2011
The Belgium based Rock Werchter Cycling Team is online under www.rockwerchtercycling.be (Dutch). Thank you to the team for providing photos from the team presentation on February 22.