Carrying the title of National Junior Hill Climb Champion, you wouldn’t think Chris Mann started cycling as a way to get fit after breaking his knees. Writing this I can’t quite believe it myself with how much success the North Wales rider has achieved. With inspiration also coming from his Dad and brother, Chris went along to a Go-Ride session run by British Cycling and now teammate Dave Williams. With the sessions triggering Chris’ competitive side, he first started racing at the age of 15. Rising through the youth ranks you’d find Chris attending Wrexham Road Club Time Trials, regional Time Trials as well as criterium races. Chris commented on his Junior career, “my Junior career has been mixed, some really good time trials and road races, but much of the time struggling with illness and injury, but I did have a strong end to the 2019 season.”.
Looking back to the start of the 2019 season, Chris was balancing training with A-Level revision. “I was balancing it with A-Level revision, so training wasn’t great. I managed some good rides in the CTT Classic Series by winning two rounds, but also getting 2nd place at the Welsh National TT Champs.”
Towards the latter part of the season Chris turned his focus to hill climbs. “I had good support with starting at Bangor University and training for the hill climbs. I retained my Welsh Junior Hill Climb Champion title and took the National Junior title down in Devon. That was the highlight of the year for me.”
When asked how he approached the National Hill Climb, “it was just a matter of getting the prep for the race spot on. I needed to know how to pace the climb and where to push hard. The 13/14 minute climb really suited me! The Nationals is always such a good event and a prestigious award to win, so to have my name up there with some of the best in the country feels amazing.”.
A few months into studying Sports Science at Bangor University, Chris is certainly settled into balancing training and studying now. “It’s actually a really good environment to train at Uni, especially studying Sports Science. It is almost expected for you to do a sport. Having the Sports Science department behind me really helps with training. It’s just a good place to be for training and becoming as fit as I can be.”
With Bangor being located in north-west Wales, Chris has the Snowdonia National Park and Anglesey as his training grounds. “Bangor is such a good location for cycling. The terrain is so versatile. Snowdonia mountains to the south and across the Menai Bridge for some flat roads.” The roads around Bangor certainly played a part in Chris’ decision to study at Bangor University, but he was influenced by some other things too. “Talking to the lecturers and the staff at Bangor just cemented my decision as they are all really understanding with training commitment. Being lectured by those who are amongst the top academically in their fields is also an added bonus.”
Chris spent the first few months of Winter training simply settling into training and studying, but come the start of 2019 he began looking for a coach. Deciding on Ryan Morley Coaching, Chris is excited to see what happens this season. “Having a coach has basically brought my fitness up to way above what it has ever been before. I was smashing my power PB’s in February only 6 weeks into being coached, which is very promising. Ryan has been really good with the approach to the start of this season. With how my training is currently going, I should be smashing the races I’ve got planned. It has been a lot of time spent on the turbo and Wattbike, but when I can get out for an endurance ride it is a great opportunity to see how I’m going up the climbs and really testing the legs. I’m just itching to get racing!.”
Flying the flag for Velotik Racing Team in 2020, Chris is excited to be road racing and time trialling throughout the season now he’s moving up into the U23 category. “I’m really looking forward to doing some Team Time Trials again in 2020, and hopefully smashing some National Time Trials. I’ll hopefully be doing some hard National B road races and just trying to get as good as I can as a first year Under-23.”
With studying at University, the British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) events now come into play on Chris’ racing calendar. Through March and April will see the young rider take part in TTT events, as well as 10 and 20 mile Time Trials. Criterium and road races will start to pop up in April and obviously finishing the season with some hill climbs. Talking about the BUCS events coming up, “I’ll be competing against other Universities in the UK, so that should show for some pretty exciting racing.”
On a final comment, Chris mentions how he feels now the race season is approaching, “The move to Senior will be a big jump, but after this strong Winter I feel ready for racing now.”
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