Thursday, April 18, 2024

Harry Tanfield – with Tour de Tietema-Unibet for 2023

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HomeInterviewsHarry Tanfield - with Tour de Tietema-Unibet for 2023

It’s almost nine years since Harry Tanfield first appeared in our pages; March 2014 – he’d just finished third to Evan Oliphant in the Gordon Arms hilly time trial in the Scottish Borders.

Since those simple days of amateur time tests he’s been around the block a bit – but even before that he’d had an interesting career:

2012: saw a top 20 finish in the junior Paris-Roubaix.

2013: was unremarkable but he ‘got round’ the Rutland.

Harry Tanfield in the 2014 Gordon Arms Hilly Time Trial in the Scottish Borders. Photo©Martin Williamson

2014: the year we first connected with him he was with KTM and took fifth in the BC u23 iTT. He was already making the podium in the Belgian kermises, including a second place in Lauwe, West Flanders to a man who for a while, early in the century was winning big and the ‘next big thing’ in Belgian Cycling – Steven Caethoven.

2015: he was with John Herety’s JLT Condor team and was on the podium in the Rutland. 

2016: with the ‘Pedal Heaven’ team he was second the British Elite Criterium Series and won a stage in the Tour de Poyang Lake in China.

2017: Bike Channel – Canyon was on the jersey this year and a raft of top placings in the UK and on the continent not forgetting a stage win in the Chinese Tour of Qanzhou Bay

Harry Tanfield
Harry Tanfield takes his Tour de Yorkshire stage. Photo©TdY

2018: Canyon Eisberg the team; silver medals came in the British Championship and Commonwealth Games individual time trials AND the result which brought the spotlight into sharp focus on him – victory in Stage One, Tour of Yorkshire. 

2019: World Tour with Team Katusha; no ‘stand outs’ but fifth in the BinckBank Tour chrono just four seconds behind Stefan Kung tells us that the man wasn’t ‘creeping.’

Harry Tanfield with AG2R in 2020. Photo©Vincent Curutchet

2020: AG2R Mondiale on the jersey after the strange set up that was Katusha folded; it was Stage 15 of the Tour of Spain before he had to throw the towel in – seven days was the most consecutive days he’d raced prior to the monster that is the Vuelta. 

2021: ‘Team Qhubeka ASSOS’ said the name on his chest; second in the GB crit champs and fourth in the GB road race champs reminded us that he’s a quality boy – as did those top five results in Belgium.

But the South African team was doomed – so back to the drawing board for 2022.

2022: UK continental team Ribble Weldtite; lots of strong home criterium results – but he kept his hand in over the North Sea in those Dutch and Belgian kermises.

However, despite a good season, the Ribble Weldtite team folded at the end of the year, underlining how difficult it is to obtain sponsorship in this trouble financial climate.

2023?: read on…

Harry Tanfield in action at the Tour Series criterium in Galashiels this season. Photo©Martin Williamson

When did you know that the writing was on the wall for the Ribble Weldtite team, Harry?

“The team was very open with us, we were kept in the loop from August that they were waiting to hear back from sponsors; the premature halting of the Tour of Britain couldn’t be avoided because of the circumstances but that didn’t help matters either.

“In September it was accepted that the team wasn’t going to continue so that gave us time to react; I was speaking to teams in Belgium and The Netherlands but I also spoke to Tim Elverson about his 2023 incarnation of the Canyon team – AT85 Pro Cycling.

“But in the end I decided to go to The Netherlands, I like the racing there.”

Harry Tanfield with the then Ribble DS, Colin Sturgess (who is working with Tim Elverson’s AT85 Pro Cycling team for 2023). Photo©Martin Williamson

How did you get the ride with the TDT-Unibet Cycling Team?

“The guy setting the team up, Bas Tietema has a You Tube channel with 150,000 plus subscribers, ‘Tour de Tietema’ and has decided to put together a continental team, he contacted me in July but I had other offers to consider.

“I made the decision to go with him in September, the programme is good, the man has vision, the goal is to go Pro Team in 2024 and the title sponsor, Unibet is a strong one.”

So it’s a solid set up?

“It’s organised in a proper European pro team fashion, there’s an operations manager, a mechanic, a soigneur, a media person, Rob Harmeling is DS; he was a pro with Histor and TVM and is a former Tour de France stage winner.

“The team coach is a quality guy as well, Hugo Haak – he was a good rider on the track himself and was ‘coach of the year’ in The Netherlands a few years ago.

“As far as riders go there are no big names but everyone has solid results – Joren Bloem was third in the Olympia’s Tour this year, that’s one hard race.

Kevin Inkelaar has won stages in the Val d’Aosta, spent two seasons with Bahrain and rode the Vuelta.”  

Tour de Tietema-Unibet will be using Cannondale’s Systemsix Hi-MOD with Shimano’s electronic Ultegra Di2 12-speed groupsets, while the Dutch company Scope Cycling provides the team with their 57 millimeter deep R5 wheels. Photo©TDT-Unibet Cycling Team

Are the bikes sorted and how do you cope with the change of machine?

“We’re on Cannondale with Shimano groupsets, I saw one at the team launch and they look the part.

“As for changing bikes it’s pretty straightforward and something I’ve got used to over the years.”

Do you know your programme yet?

“Not specifically but I know we have some good races lined up – we start with the Tour of Antalya in Turkey which is February 09 to 12 and we’re accepted for UCI races the likes of Craft Ster van Zwolle and Balloise Tour of Belgium.”  

Where will ‘home’ be?

“My girlfriend is Dutch and lives in Utrecht; we’re in the process of sorting a place out over there.”  

Despite your Ribble UK commitments you still managed some decent continental results in 2022, second in Omloop Mandel-Leie-Schelde Meulebeke for instance?

“I didn’t do many though – you really need to do a few to get back into that style of racing.

“I like the kermis scene in Belgium and there’s a good crit scene in The Netherlands.”

Harry Tanfield on the way to second in the Omloop Mandel-Leie-Schelde. Photo©Pascal Vande Putte

Will you miss the UK crit scene?

“Of course, I grew up riding those races and this year I was second overall in the Tour Series but the Canyon team were just so dominant in those races.

“I rode every round of the series and with all the travel it does take it out of you.”

And your winter break is behind you?