'I was able to pick and choose from two cycling cultures, French and English': Simon Carr on what formed him as a cyclist

The dual-nationality rider on blending the best bits from two nations' cycling cultures

Simon Carr of EF Education
(Image credit: Getty)

For each article in this long-running WATT WORKS FOR ME series from Cycling Weekly's print edition, we ask a pro rider about their favourite things in training: what has helped them most in getting to where they are today.  The aim is to get to the heart of the beliefs and preferences they hold dear when it comes to building form, maximising fitness and ultimately achieving results. For this edition, we speak to EF Education-EasyPost's Simon Carr...

You grew up in the south of France – did that environment help you develop as a cyclist? 

Yes, I think it really did because I got to race on normal roads with proper climbs even as an under-15, which is very different to the UK. Going through the French system with Division National teams, I did lots of racing at a high level. Meanwhile, as an English speaker, I was able to get loads of information from the internet about coaching and training – I mixed the two elements together. 

Are there major differences between English and French cycling cultures? 

Yeah, I’d say the main difference is that in France it’s a lot more based around clubs – you learn directly from more experienced riders. The impression I get of cycling in the UK and North America is that it’s more solitary, learning from the internet or remote coaching. 

>>> Read more pro rider interviews from Cycling Weekly's WATT WORKS FOR ME series here <<<

Which language do you speak more, French or English?

We always spoke English at home – a deliberate choice by my parents. Now, I hardly speak French at all, as I speak English to my girlfriend, who is Canadian, and we speak English within the team – I’ve even started forgetting some French words! It’s weird, sometimes I dream in French and sometimes in English.

Rider profile: Simon Carr

Age: 23 

Height: 6ft 

FTP: 390W / 6.1W/kg 

Lives: Carcassonne, France 

Rides for: EF Education-EasyPost 

Best results: 9th GC – Route d’Occitanie, 2021 11th – Strade Bianche, 2021 1st – Villafranca de Ordizia, 2020 

Twitter: @scarr_98 

Instagram: scarr.98

You’re now coached by Nate Wilson. Has he introduced any major changes to your training?

The main difference since I moved to EF has been more volume. Up until July 2020 I was working in my family business [a supplier of small industrial engines], which meant I only had afternoons to train. Over the past year, I did 28,000km, compared to around 20,000km per year previously – quite a big jump. The other change, specific to Nate, has been to make my training less polarised; I now do more medium intensity, Zone 3 work, which is something I really enjoy.

Quick-fire faves

Motivational song/artist? 

Talking Heads 

Place to ride? 

The Col de Pailhères [in the French Pyrenees] 

Type of race? 

A stage with an uphill start – it thins down the peloton early on 

Way to spend a rest day? 

Going for a hike, with lunch along the way 

Cafe stop treat in Britain? 

Carrot cake 

Cafe stop treat in France? 

Cinnamon roll 

Sport or hobby aside from cycling? 

Motorsport – I did some karting when I was younger 

Inspirational sportsperson? 

Valentino Rossi 

Guilty pleasure? 

Proper Italian gelato 

Quality in a training partner? 

Someone you get on so well with that you don’t need to talk all the time

EF seems to be a team that does things slightly differently – does that suit you?

Yeah, my upbringing – taking aspects from two national cultures – fits in well with the team. They have riders of so many different nationalities that they do allow a bit of individuality and personality, doing stuff your own way to a certain extent. From the outside, other teams appear more formatted.

Do you have a particular specialism as a rider? 

I’m not 100% sure yet. I know I have some ability in climbing, but I’m not a pure climber and can also do a decent TT. I’ve also got quite good power over shorter durations, so I’ve potential for the punchy races like the Ardennes. The team has put me in quite a few different types of races, and I’ve done well in some races that I wouldn’t have expected to, such as Strade Bianche [Carr’s WorldTour debut, where he finished 11th].

How to step up to a big race without feeling overly daunted? 

It’s about being relaxed and remembering it’s just a bike race. If you know you’ve worked as hard as you can in training in the lead-up to the race, that makes you feel relaxed and ready.

Do you have a favourite type of training? 

One I really enjoy is a Zone 3 ‘pushing on’ session: four hours on a hilly route doing low Zone 3 on the flat, higher Zone 3 on the climbs, and keeping pressure on the pedals on the descents where possible. Kinda riding hard all day!

This 'Watt Works for Me' interview was originally published in the 21 January 2022 print edition of Cycling Weekly magazine. Subscribe online and get the magazine delivered to your door every week.

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