Telenet-Fidea CX team: the British touch!
Since 2011, the British Champion, Nikki Harris, rides with a lot of success for one of the best Cyclocross teams in the World, Telenet- Fidea. She has a great experience in all cycling disciplines but she chose Cyclocross as her main focus! Nikki brings something different to the team and gets a lot from the Belgian Cyclocross culture. We had the chance to spend time with her after the Team presentation in Erpe-Mere (Belgium).
How is it to be riding for a Belgian team?
Cyclocross is that big in Belgium that it would not be right to ride for any other team. When you come to any races there are so many people to support you. It makes total sense to be in a Belgian team when there are so many races here. Telenet-Fidea is also welcoming different nationalities and they want to grow the sport. There is a really good base behind the team.
Is there a Belgian way of racing or approaching Cyclocross?
For a lot of people at Telenet-Fidea, the management and everybody around, Cyclocross is their whole life. They wake up thinking about Cyclocross and they dream about it. It’s a dominant sport in Belgium and most races are broadcasted on TV. It’s really a way of life for a lot of Belgian.
Do you train with the other riders, men and women? Do you share your experience?
Sometimes during winter, on the Wednesdays, we train together in the woods. It’s only 30-40 minutes away from where I live in Belgium. Also if I’m at the course and one of the guys is training there I jump on his wheels. We look at lines and discuss about the course. We don’t necessarily train every week together.
How do you train?
Before the season I do a lot on the road. 80-90% of my training is done on the road. I do a little bit of technic and I run. During winter we race so much that we can only do a little bit of technic, short intervals and running. We have just five days and then another two-day of races. We are so busy that we don’t get to do long road rides.
Tell us about your highlights regarding the past season?
Definitely finishing second overall in the World Cup and second at the Europeans. Winning the National Championships last year was also another highlight. But I want to win something big soon.
What are your goals for this season?
To win a World Cup because I was on the podium quit a few times last year, second or third but never won a World Cup. That would be something special. Especially this year at the World Cup in Milton Keynes in England.
November 29th, Milton Keynes (UK) will host for the first time a Cyclocross World Cup. Have you checked the course?
Not yet but I spoke to a few people and it sounds quit good. Maybe I can get there a bit earlier and check out the course before everybody else. It would be so great to win that one. I’d like that!
Which conditions will you hope for?
Muddy! Really really hard course with some climbs and a lot of mud. No running but sections you can ride. That’s what I prefer.
Looking back at July and the start of the Tour de France in the UK, it seems that in the UK everybody loves cycling and cheers for it. Are you expecting huge crowds around the course?
I really hope that they promote a lot over the next weeks coming up to the event. It’s a perfect event for people to come and see. It’s 40 minutes long and an hour for the men and you can see everything in a short space. On the road you see the riders come pass once. In Cyclocross you can look at every direction and see the riders. I’m hoping that will persuade people to come over and enjoy Cyclocross with us. The other day, I had the idea to have a Cyclocross event in London, in one of the big parks. I think a lot of people would be interested.
This summer you received your bike equipped with the SRAM Force CX1 drivetrain. What are you first impressions?
I love it! Everything moves so smoothly. You don’t really have to think about changing gear because it just flows like you can just move the shifter and it goes as you want. You don’t feel like you are losing power because your chain always feels so tight. You never have the fear of the chain coming off. So far even when I crashed, the chain never came off. I’m looking forward to racing on it. Also I don’t have to think about the left shifter at all. It’s simpler. Especially in cyclocross every little second counts. Even just thinking you have to shift it’s one second you could lose on the pedal and if you do that every lap, it’s five seconds which could be a difference between 1st and 2nd place on the podium. I think it will make a big difference.
We saw you checking your bike and asking technical questions. Do you like working on your bike?
I think you have to know your bike because it’s you main tool that you’ve got to use. When something goes wrong during a race, if you know what’s happening and why, you won’t panic and will lose less time. A lot of people should look at their bikes and equipment a little bit more.
What do you do besides cyclocross racing?
At the minute, I’m literally focused on Cyclocross. I’m enjoying so much life training during summer and look forward to racing during winter. My thoughts are towards Cyclocross. Also growing women cycling, that’s one of the huge things I’d like to be part of!
You raced most cycling disciplines, track, MTB, Road and Cyclocross, why choose Cyclocross as your main discipline?
Because I love it. I tried a little bit of Mountain bike last year. I did two World Cups and that was the first time ever I tried MTB World Cups. I did the MTB World Championships when I was a junior but the World Cups changed so much the past few years. It’s a lot more technical. If you want to be really good at it you need to do it all the time. I enjoy road racing a lot but I cannot do everything at the highest level.
Best of luck for the 2014-2015 season!