'I am quite nervous actually': Harry Tanfield eyeing desert races and Classics in debut WorldTour season

Tanfield says the racing programme will be huge relative to what he does now in the UK

Harry Tanfield at Otley GP. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

Harry Tanfield is "quite nervous" about making the leap from the Under 23 ranks to the WorldTour, but relishes the opportunities to lead out Marcel Kittel and ride the classics with Katusha-Alpecin.

The 23-year-old Englishman, second in the time trial nationals behind Geraint Thomas (Sky), will debut in the professional ranks in 2019 with Team Katusha-Alpecin. He is eyeing the early season races in the Middle East with an opportunity to ride the classics.

"It's what I've wanted to do since being a senior, but I am quite nervous actually," Tanfield told Cycling Weekly. "It'll be better once I've spent sometime with them and had the training camps. It'll be good to get the ball rolling.

"I've done some races at that level, but not that many. I hope to ride in the desert races in the early season and then into the classics. I'd love to do Paris-Roubaix, I've ridden that as a junior [18th in 2012]. It'd be great to have a crack at that, but it'll be a real big ask."

Tanfield is currently racing for third division continental team, Canyon-Eisberg. This season, he impressed the team and onlookers with a stage win at home in stage one of the Tour of Yorkshire, where Team Katusha also raced.

The Yorkshire win and the national time trial result, sandwiched between Thomas ahead of his Tour de France ride and future team-mate Alex Dowsett (Katusha-Alpecin), helped seal the deal.

Soon after, Katusha General Manager José Azevedo began chatting with Canyon-Eisberg sports director Tim Elverson, and an agreement was made for 2019 and 2020.

"I chatted with José Azevedo twice, but my team manager has been doing the deal. They want me in the TTs and the TTTs in different races," Tanfield explained.

"They want to improve in the TTT setup. It'll be interesting to see what I can bring to that. I don't know where Tony Martin is going to ride next year, but it'll be interesting to fill his boots! I'll try!

"I know Alex Dowsett. I roomed with him in the Euro champs. I spoke with him at nationals too. He's looking forward to having me on the team, the first time he's had an English rider on the team since 2012."

Tanfield has a huge motor. This January, he helped the independent trade squad Team KGF come away from the Minsk round of the UCI track world cup with a gold medal in the pursuit.

He will continue the rounds of Under 23 races in Belgium and The Netherlands over the next few weeks and the road season through the Chrono des Nations. Afterwards, he will take part a couple of track world cups before enjoying a rest. The 2019 season will put different demands on his body and he needs to be ready.

"I'm similar to Ryan Mullen, he's my age and a big guy as well. He has big watts. I can't get near him.

"If I can climb a bit better, thin up - because you need to be able to get around the races. The TT is a big goal and I will stick to my strength in that. And leading out Kittel, that's going to be a big thing for the team," Tanfield said.

"The training demands are different, we train to ride for one day or one-hour criteriums. It's a bit different at that level, I'm going to change my training a bit. But just doing the racing programme will help me. It's huge relative to what we do in the UK."

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