New Olympic Academy Programme inductee Grant Ferguson sums up his breakthrough 2011 season.
“It’s been a really long year,” said the rangy 18 year old Scot with a smile. “Towards the end I was getting a bit tired but now I can look back and see – I’m pretty happy – top fives in all the races that I’d targeted.”
Grant Ferguson spoke to British Cycling at GBCT headquarters in Manchester, a few weeks after he’d been inducted into the Olympic Academy Programme, at the end of a season which saw the man from Peebles shine at the Champery World Champs, with a fourth place in the junior cross country event, a race that Ferguson found himself leading at one point.
“I wasn’t sure what to do really. I was happy to be there,” admitted Grant on his undoubted 2011 season highlight. “I put myself into third going into the first descent. I knew I needed to be near the front because it was quite a twisty descent. Then I came around the corner to find the two boys in the front on the ground.”
Finding himself at the head of the biggest race of the year was a new experience for Ferguson and he was mindful that such opportunities were easy to squander. “Because it’s such a big race you don’t want to go and then blow – you want to get a result at the end of the day”, continued Grant. “So I just rode my own race from there really. A couple of boys brought me back and I settled down and got more comfortable. It was a good experience” concluded Grant with that characteristic athlete’s knack for understatement.
Ferguson’s busy final year on the Olympic Development Programme saw him race across three disciplines and travel extensively in Europe, riding cyclo-cross, road and mountain bike. “I did a Nation’s Cup with the road boys in the Czech Republic where I finished 16th in a hilly six day stage race” said Grant, who’s always raced road alongside his mountain bike commitments.” That was the first race I’d done with them in Europe. And then I went to the European champs and got 12th so I was quite pleased with that. I wasn’t sure what to expect there. I also went to Spain for a month to race with teams out there. I enjoyed that experience and learned some things from them.”
More recently, Ferguson has been racing National Trophy cyclo-cross, with, by his own admission, mixed fortunes; “Because I’ve moved up a category and I’ve got no points I started at the very back of the grid. It’s the first time I’d been on the bike since the worlds and my legs just didn’t have it. I felt better this weekend at the Trophy (Derby) but the result was exactly the same. I just got a couple of things I need to work on.” Recently however, Ferguson seems to have found his 'cross form, taking the bronze medal in Under 23 championships in a ferocious sprint against defending champion Luke Gray. An impressive performance for the first year Under 23.
Moving into the Olympic Academy Programme, Ferguson’s season will be more focussed on World and European level mountain biking, set against the backdrop of moving from his home in Peebles to the Academy base in Manchester. With a packed programme of racing and the new challenges of independent living ahead, it’s going to be another busy year for the tall, talented man that teammates call ‘The Frog’.