We chat to James Fouché at this years Tour de Yorkshire, a young New Zealand cycling star with Team WIGGINS Le Col, about life in the peloton, his appreciation of the Outback and the ‘glorious’ Yorkshire weather.
James Fouché is absolutely exhausted.
Drenched and bedraggled, too, by the driving rain and gale-force winds that the ‘beautiful’ Yorkshire climate has thrown at the elite cyclists all day.
But he couldn’t be happier. After Stage Two of the Tour de Yorkshire (132KM from Barnsley to Bedale), he’s currently co-leader of the King of the Mountains. Which in layman’s terms means he has climbed up the Cote de Lindley quicker than any mountain goat.
“A good day at the office”, is how James describes it, “but it’s going to get tougher for me as the race unfolds.”
At just 21 years-old, James has battled through the junior ranks and earlier this year was crowned New Zealand National Road Race Champion. Fouché joined Team WIGGINS Le Col in 2018 after they saw just how fast he was progressing (and pedalling) in the elite race world.
He was also excited to hear about Subaru and Team WIGGINS Le Col’s partnership for 2019; knowing that he’s got a safe, reliable support car behind him makes every painful, furious kilometre across Europe a little easier.
“The support car fleet and team are great. It’s really important for me to have quick fixes if I have an issue on the road. They also provide me with valuable information on what’s ahead through the radio – type of terrain, bends coming up, wind direction, where the rest of my team are - it makes things so much safer. In the peloton, too, everyone’s playing chess, trying to outthink and outmanoeuvre the other. Thankfully, our Outback fleet has proved to be skillful on all roads: totally reliable, safe and surefooted in some of most challenging conditions I’ve ever ridden in.”
That, in our books, makes him a big fan of the brand – and Subaru would definitely be on his short-list for a future purchase.
After chilling out and getting the team tactics for the next day’s stage, we sat down with James for a chat about life as a professional cyclist. We wanted to know how he started and how hard competing at this level is.
“I started cycling at school. I did a triathlon for a few seasons then I moved just to cycling because I wasn’t too good at swimming. I came to Europe for the first time in 2017 off the back of some good race wins in New Zealand and Belgium.”
James hit the ground running, grabbing second place in the Classica da Arrabida in Portugal and instantly became ‘the fast, strong cyclist to watch’. Of course, though, the climb to world level isn’t easy.
“The hardest part about being a pro cyclist is having to be on your game for eight or nine months of the year. Every race, you have to go hard or go home. Leave everything on the course. Luckily I have two great coaches, Patrick and Tammy Harvey, who saddle any of my worries, so I can just focus on riding my bike.”
So, that’s exactly what he’s been doing. Winning National Championships and challenging various older, more established and decorated World Tour riders along the way.
And Yorkshire. What does he make of it?
“It’s my first time here and the experience has been amazing so far. The spectators along the route have been unreal. The countryside is spectacular and varied. The weather, however, has been atrocious. Actually, my favourite place to ride is definitely the training grounds in Auckland.”
With Team WIGGINS Le Col and Subaru’s help, James believes that his goal to compete and win at World Tour level is very realistic. That’s if he doesn’t get lost.
“I got lost on a non-supported ride last year after some bike issues. A short five-hour ride turned into nine hours, and I had to use the light on my phone to find my way back. I won’t be doing that again.”
Which just goes to show how important it is to have great support behind you all the way.