I climbed Mont Blanc and the dream was to climb Everest
So you may recognize this house as the house of Poldark, but it’s also where I grew up. And I grew up on bikes, all sorts of bikes really, from motorcross, to bikes, to, now, motorbikes. But you’re probably wondering where we’re gonna go now and we’re actually off to my local cafe, where I spent a lot of my time as a pro rider. Don’t fall off on the gravel. Still haven’t learned.
So I made it here to my local cafe, Veloton, in a small town called Tetbury. Think it’s about time we get a coffee. Welcome to my local cafe. I think I spent, well, probably more hours in here than I did on the bike, but, then again, it’s a great cafe and they do amazing coffee here at Veloton. So, yeah, best place to tell you a bit more about myself. Right, prepare yourself. Get a brew because, well, this could take a while. But I come from a fairly traditional family, as you can probably tell. And all my ancestors have been in the army and have been, had big connections in the army, so it was only right that I follow in the same footsteps. So training for the army, I got into mountaineering and I absolutely loved it. I climbed Mont Blanc and the dream was to climb
Everest and be the youngest to climb Everest. Unfortunately I never got Everest, but I watched the Beijing Olympics and that kind of set me off really. I trained a little bit on the bicycle and I trained for that, you know, for the mountaineering. But once watching Beijing a while, I was like, I could do that. So, we actually rung up Pritchett Cycling and said, you know could you come down and give me an interview? To which they sent a chap down, spoke to me and said, you know, are you ready for it? And I said, yeah, I’m ready. Can you meet me in the velodrome? So I went up to the velodrome and the chap never turned up, which was quite embarrassing. So I kind of sat there in the middle of the track, hairy legs, trainers, not really knowing what do do and then Courtney Rowe, actually, Luke Rowe’s father, was there and he said jump on the track. So jumped on the track, did a few flying laps, and he said that I had some talent and if I wanted to, y’know, take it a bit further, he’d be interested in coaching me. And from then on, he said, gave me a program and I said goodbye to the mountaineering and I went full gas cycling and I was very lucky to be picked up by Magnus Bäckstedt a couple of years down the line, after training a lot in the track, and I joined the team UK Youth.
So, I mean, I’ll rewind a year back, because, well, this adds onto the story later and basically, well, I was very lucky and I got sponsored by Superdry I did a little bit of modeling and I really hope that no pictures you see, ’cause that could be quite embarrassing. But yeah, Superdry also allowed me to kind of go out onto the scene and ride full-time. I went up to the track and I got introduced to Magnus Bäckstedt and UK Youth, to which they said, y’know, have a go on the bike or to race and so I got in the race and I was so nervous. I actually did really badly in the race, to which I got off the bike, and I said look, I put my hands up to Magnus and Greg Mansell at the time and he said, oh you look good in the kit but we still, like, you know, we’d like to give you another chance. So yeah, I went on and did some other big races for them and then signed the contract.
And I then got mentored by Nigel Mansell, the F1, Formula One, world champion and utter legend and he basically helped me, y’know, rise through the ranks of pro-cycling and also Magnus Bäckstedt helped me a lot. And I made some great friends and it was an incredible team and it went from a club team to dominating the UK circuit. And, yeah, I learned a lot from that team. And, yeah, it was great, it was really, really good time. Yeah, that’s a good question. And I’ve had a lot of people commenting, asking, how did I get a nickname Hank. So I thought it’s probably best to tell you today. And I got the nickname Hank through being at the velodrome when I was doing a lot of training. I was working with the Rowes, who, well, Luke Rowe rides for Sky nowadays and I trained with them a lot and my stepdad used to take me to the velodrome and he was American and my surname was Williams and, for somehow, they put together American Williams and came up with Hank Williams, the American singer. I don’t think I look like him, but yes, yeah. From then on, it just stuck. Ooh, hard one. I think for me, nowadays, it’s got to be Sagan. He’s so flamboyant, he can do anything, and he has fun with it and that’s what I’m about. I think you can’t take life too seriously and you gotta have fun.
Life’s too short, at the end of the day. So I think, yeah, Sagan, holds all that in one person. I think that’s pretty cool. So, my best race has to be Ride London-Surrey Classic. Good story behind that because I was riding for NFTO Pro Cycling, which is another great team that looked after me super well, and we’re riding for Adam Blythe and as I was riding, it was pouring down with weather and I was looking after Blythey because, well, he was our favorite and he was kind of our team leader and he asked me to go and get a Gabba, which is a rain jacket. So I got to him in the pouring rain, torrential rain came down, he said go and get a Gabba, so I went back to the car, spent ages trying to get the Gabba, stuffing it down my skinsuit and this, that, and the other.
Took me about 15 minutes to go up the outside of the peloton, got back to him and he says, oh, I don’t need it anymore, it stopped raining. And I looked at him and said. (exhales slowly) So at the end, I have to go all the way back to the car, put it back in the car, get back up, to which he said good job, Hank. So, yeah, and then he ended up winning the race, so that was a pretty cool memory and I also rode in on the mile behind Bradley Wiggins, which was super cool, especially as, y’know, earlier on, he won the Olympics and the Tour, and, yeah, that kind of, like, stuck in my memory. So, I was a domestique, a bit like Bernie Eisel but probably not that big. I kind of spent a lot of time working for others but that’s something I actually enjoyed. I wasn’t a race winner and I don’t think that really suited me either. I was very much looking after the others and I got a lot of joy out of that. And if the others did, y’know, well and I kind of helped in that victory, then it’d be, y’know, a bit of a victory for myself.
So, yeah, I think, like, I was a domestique and a punchy rider and a road captain and, yeah, I very much enjoyed that role. I was hoping you were gonna miss out this question but I don’t have one bad day. I actually have a few. I crashed a fair bit. There was also another two bad days. I got disqualified from the Tour of Britain not once, but twice, and that was, yeah, that probably wasn’t a good day for me. (exhales) It’s really tough question because, well, I’ve ridden in some incredible places but I would say my favorite place is probably Calpe. It’s a place where I used to just go and get my head down into winter training, y’know, and ride the incredible roads and also be in nice weather. So, yeah, that’s probably my favorite place. (exhales) Oof. A good question. I think everyone’s gonna think I’m bonkers but, for me, I had an incredible career.
I was looked after by some incredible people and I got a lot out of it and I was kind of looking for more. I had done the British scene for seven years and I was kind of doing the same races day in, day out. I kind of felt like I needed a bit more out of it and when I came to GCN, I was able to, I’ve been able to do some epic races that I would never normally have done, for example the Red Hook Crit. And I hope there’s loads of other big challenges on the horizon that I wouldn’t have normally have got the opportunity to do being a pro rider. So that’s probably why. Ooh, tough question, but I think my favorite year was actually my last. And that’s riding for this team, Team Canyon Eisberg. Yeah, we had some great times. We were on some great races, Tour of China.
We also won the Tour Series, to which I actually have got rips in because, yeah, I did crash there and brought the team down, which is quite embarrassing. But, no, we had some great teams, great times, and, yeah, it was with some really cool people and I loved it. So yeah, probably my last year. Well this one is I’m really proud of. This is my UK Youth jersey, which was representing an incredible charity in UK Youth and also, it had Nigel Mansell’s number five, red number five, which I thought was quite cool, cool little touch. But yeah, so we didn’t win a lot of race in that jersey. The next jersey I’ll show you is this one, which is the NFTO one, super minimalistic, which I think is really cool. And that’s the one we won the Ride London-Surrey Classic with Adam Blythe in.
And yeah, really cool memories of that jersey. The next one is my Tour Series leader’s jersey that we actually won the Tour Series in. Really, like, good memory and still got my numbers in from the last race. And, also, it’s still got the hole in to where I hit the deck and took three team members down. But, luckily, chased back on and we won by a tire width, even though we had it sewn up after 20 minutes. Good memory and also bad, embarrassing memory. But no, really cool memories. So there you have it, a little bit of a background of how I got into cycling and, yeah, what my career was like. I hope you enjoyed it. If you did, then please give this video a thumbs up and if you want to see any of the other Meet the Presenters videos, then click here, on my Trek.