As far as breakthrough years go, 2018 has been a pretty remarkable one for Harry Tanfield as the Middlesbrough-born road cyclist continues his rapid rise towards the professional ranks.
Having won a Commonwealth silver medal in the individual time trial at his debut multi-sport games, Tanfield backed that success up just weeks later to take the first stage in the Tour de Yorkshire.
With a host of major championships to look forward to this summer, the sky’s the limit for one of Team England’s brightest cycling talents.
“The Gold Coast was obviously my first time representing Team England at any sort of level like that, so it’s a big step in the right direction heading into the European Championships and World championships,” said Tanfield.
“There’s very few opportunities to ride at the highest level like that and it was a good indicator to see where I’m at. Hopefully it’ll put me in good stead in the future for other events at that level so I’m looking forward to getting my foot in the door and to be in contention for selection.”
Alongside younger brother Charlie, himself a Commonwealth champion at last month’s games in the track cycling 4000m individual pursuit, Tanfield’s silver medal success marked a new breed of cycling talent coming to the fore for Team England.
However, lining up on the Gold Coast, Tanfield’s focus was purely around putting in a strong performance on the biggest stage of his racing career to date, with silverware an added bonus.
“I was looking at the start sheet and thinking realistically I want to be in the top five. It’s not like a road race, everything’s in your control and all you can do is give the best you’ve got. There was no race radio so I was just riding to whatever I had in my legs on the day, but to get a medal was pretty surreal.”
Within a matter of days of having the Commonwealth medal placed around his neck, Tanfield returned to England and was back out on the road preparing for his next major challenge – the Tour de Yorkshire.
After coming so close to a stage win in the 2015 tour, where Tanfield led with 300m to go before finishing ninth in a bunch sprint, this time podium success was very much at the forefront of his thoughts.
“I’d looked at the course and felt the first stage had my name written all over it. I spoke to the team a couple of days beforehand and they said, ‘day one and potentially day two or day three are your days Harry in the breakaway and the aggressive rider award.’’
“I just read the race from the start, from 10km I felt the break was probably going to start going so I started whacking it on the front. I was the one that forced the move and drove it away from the start. I wanted to be in that break so I thought right I’m going to make it happen.
“I wasn’t a case of floating into a move and it being a successful one as such, it was me who initiated the move from the beginning, drove it and got it going then got us the gap.
Hoping to build towards further successes, Tanfield believes his future lies in the time trial event as he seeks to continue his rapid rise on the road racing scene.
“It’s a good thing to focus on the TTs for the big events like the World Championships, I’ve shown that I can keep up with the faster guys in the TTs so I might as well play to my strengths.
“Like what Charlie’s done, he’s really good at doing the individual pursuit, so he’s gone all out, focused on that, trained on that to be the best he can be in that area and he’s Commonwealth champion. There’s no point being average across the board, you’re better off being good at one thing so that’s what I’d like to focus on if I can which should enable me to get better results in that area.”