British pro Harry Tanfield has revealed his struggle in finding a new team for the 2021 season, describing the situation as “just a bit s**t”.
The 25-year-old recently raced 14 stages of the Vuelta a España, his last race for Ag2r La Mondiale, having spent a single season with the French WorldTour outfit.
He had ridden for Katusha-Alpecin in 2019, but when the team folded and became part of Israel Start-Up Nation, the North Yorkshireman found a new home with Ag2r.
This time around, however, Tanfield has not had the same fortune: the coronavirus pandemic has impacted on cycling’s finances and as such there are fewer places for riders in squads.
Tanfield has tried to secure a contract with one of the 19 teams at cycling’s elite level, but he admits that for the time being he will be forced to look back down the pyramid.
“Will I get somewhere? Depends on what level,” he told Cycling Weekly. “Not WorldTour, that’s for sure. Everywhere is full, done. All the teams are full.
“The problem is teams are folding or struggling and 70 to 80 guys are out of contract. Who do you give a contract to?
“A lot depends on team budgets too. Even top teams are struggling, cutting riders out. Some still have 30 riders, but not all.
“Ideally I’d join a Pro-Conti team, but a lot of those teams are full too. It’s a just a bit shit.”
Tanfield rose to prominence in 2018 when he won a stage of the Tour de Yorkshire from a breakaway, the highlight of years honing his trade in the British domestic scene, mostly under the tutelage of Tim Elverson and the various guises of his team now known as Canyon-dhb-Soreen
He was largely restricted to domestique roles in his two years in the WorldTour, although he was permitted to ride in the breakaway when the opportunity arose, including on stage four at the Vuelta.
The problem he faces is that the effort and hard work he put into his job role isn’t reflected by a glance at his results.
He continued. “I didn’t have any results this year but that’s because I wasn’t riding for myself. I was riding for the team, doing a job for them. And then you get flicked and it’s like, ‘oh great, cheers’.
“It was the same the other year. I was racing for the team, doing a job for them, and then the team is gone or is part of another team and they don’t re-sign you.
“But I did a job for them – that is what my role is. It doesn’t show on Pro Cycling Stats that you have done a job for others.”
Is he confident that he will be back racing in 2021, even if it is for a Continental team? “You ride where you can, whatever place you can find,” he added.
“Riding for a Conti team might be OK but it depends if you can step up from that again. I hope to be able to try and do that again if it means I have to ride at that level. At the moment, it’s uncertain.”