Differdange-Losch’s Josh Teasdale Gets PEZ’d!
Rider Interview: Next up in Ed Hood’s ‘Young Men of the Future’ is Josh Teasdale who has worked his way through the Belgian system and is now with the top Luxembourg Continental team; Differdange-Losch. Living in Belgium, Teasdale is in the centre of the cycling hot-bed and looking for that big Pro contract.
A name which we spotted at the recent Tour of Luxembourg was that of Josh Teasdale (Team Differdange-Losch & GB). The 24 year-old has been ‘over there’ and ‘doing it’ for several years now – high times we caught up with him. . .
PEZ: How did you get into cycling, Josh?
Josh Teasdale: When I was 12, and it was the first time I ever went to watch my dad race at a local crit series, I instantly fell in love with the sport. It was something that had never really interested me, but it was one of those rare occasions you see something and you instantly see yourself doing it forever. I then began time trialling and although I completely sucked, I still loved racing my bike, it was about five sizes too big and a mix of seven, eight and nine speed Shimano – but it was the start of a long process. I then went on the local Sunday morning group rides with Stockton Wheelers where the older guys made me very welcome. I always remember this one ride where we rode out to a climb called Clay Bank, in North Yorkshire. A guy called Jim Conlin rode next to me telling me it isn’t so bad, just relax and use a low gear; I think I had a 42 x 25 at the time and halfway up I remember collapsing with an asthma attack and having to turn back with my dad. I distinctly remember we stopped at a pub at the bottom for traditional Sunday bacon and mushroom sarnies. Good times and as a bit of a fun fact; I gained the Clay Bank hill climb course record a few years back in a local event – but still almost passed out at the top!
PEZ: You had some nice TT and hill climb results in the UK, remind our readers of them, please.
That’s where it all started for me, I trained for it because it was quick and simple. Come in from school, jump on the turbo and do some efforts, jump off and have tea, and do my homework. Then slowly but surely it became more advanced, I got a proper TT bike and it started to go from there I’d say. My top TT and Hill climb results were winning the Junior National Hill Climb Championships; winning the junior best all rounder time trial series; second in the GHS (national TT competition for youths, ed.) 10 mile final and later on winning the National Circuit TT Champs twice. Amongst that I’ve enjoyed doing the local hill climbs and setting various course records along the way. I’m not sure how many hill climbs and TT’s I’ve won over the years but I think it’s added up nicely.
PEZ: Why make the jump across the North Sea?
The jump across to Belgium actually came when I was given the opportunity to ride for EFC – Omega Pharma – Quick-Step back in 2012. I had no idea about European racing, only that Belgium was the heart of cycling. I went out there as a naive 18 year-old, and soon realised the mountain I had to climb. It took me virtually from April until September to feel comfortable in kermis races, if there is one year that stood out to me it was definitely this one. The whole concept of living alone was new because I was used to coming home from college, going out for a ride and coming home to dinner on the table and clothes washed for the next day – when you’re away for the first time and you need to adapt to taking care of yourself, it’s very strange and a little scary but eventually the homesickness went away and you start meeting new friends, and suddenly it becomes quite a nice way of life. At that time, EFC quickstep had some red hot talent, their setup was as professional as the pro team, the management was the same as the pro team more or less, and I felt so out of my depths in a way, but looking back, it was a fantastic year, a lot of great memories and it was effectively the stepping stone to everything to come.
PEZ: You had two seasons with the Terra team, how did they go for you?
I had a year with EFC, and figured I needed another year to try and find some ground if I wanted to be realistic. I rode with Terra from 2013 and 2014, this was probably the two key years for me, great management, great professional setup and very friendly staff who were able to guide young riders and show them how to develop into stronger riders. A turning point for me I would say was Ronde Van Vlaams Brabant where we won the GC, had numerous stage results and won the mountain classification. I still remember this race because it was the first time I’d really been a part of a winning team in Europe but also because we all rode as a team, and I still remember my team managers face when he knew we won the GC, he came over, jumped on us, screaming with joy. I’ll probably remember this day for a very long time. The second year I wanted to stay, I really felt I was making good progress, and in 2014, we did some really nice races, results were going better and better and I was becoming very comfortable with Belgian life.
PEZ: Then two years with the Prorace team, tell us about those.
When I moved to Prorace, I was super excited, I’d seen their calendar and there were some big races that I just wanted to ride more than anything, such as Liege Bastogne Liege U23, Tour du Jura, Fleche Ardennaise. . . It was a calendar that really suited me, and they gave me some fantastic races during my two years there – and especially from the 2016 training camp, they really gave me the push that I needed to go to a higher level. I will always be grateful of their help towards me, and I’m still really good friends with the riders there and the team management.
PEZ: Tell us about continental Team Differdange – Losch please, do they look after you?
The main goal in our team is not just to ride as a team, but as a family unit, this means everybody is clear of their role, and nobody is out just for themselves which is very important if you want to succeed in the game. We get looked after very well, we have a very professional setup, with full time staff here when we need something. And as a continental team I’d say it has one of the best European calendars you could ask for. But although each race has a leader so to speak, everyone gets their own chances and their opportunities and because we have so many race days, and only 16 riders, everybody is racing at least once a week more or less.
PEZ: Who’s their main man – do you find yourself in his service a lot; do you get your freedom as often as you would like?
We have two older experienced riders in the team, one being Tom Vermeer who is an experienced road man having been on the road scene for the last 18 years – and Olivier Pardini an ex-pro who spent the last two years with Veran Classic Wallonie Bruxelles and before then with Verandas Willems. It’s very good for the younger riders to have riders in the race with more experience and who can perhaps see a race unfolding more clearly than the younger guys. To answer the second part of the question, for example we have just came back from the Tour of Luxembourg, a 2.HC and our objective was to ride for Olivier for the GC, but like always in the start of races, if you can go with a break, go. In the later parts of the race, the roles change and you must protect your team leader. For me it was basically protecting him and putting him in the best position for the final finish laps. On the queen stage, and yesterday’s final hilly stage, it was a big fight to keep Oli in the front, I lost contact on the finishing climb from the select group but knowing Olivier was all good, it was no stress. We had just six K remaining and I came in 41st. Job done!
Generally though, it’s a case of looking at what kind of race it is, who we have in the team, who is in form and who can get the best result on the day. For example, in the flat races it goes without saying that we work for the sprinter, I’ve had a few memorable races this year where I’ve been worked for, and that’s a really nice situation to be in but also races where I’ve worked for others. I like both sides to be honest, but whatever your job is, it’s satisfying when it all pays off at the end because it reflects back on the whole team.
PEZ: How did you get the ride?
It was actually in my second year with Prorace, we’d gone to do some early season kermis races in Luxembourg, and I saw straight away Team Differdange in their numbers taking the race on from the first lap, I remember thinking to myself; ‘damn, they’re strong.’ And from the outside, they looked like a very professional set up. I finished on the podium in Bech and then the week after a similar story in Dippach having been in the breakaway again. I made sure I targeted these local Luxembourg races throughout the season that I knew the team would be at, and it was all about trying to make a good impression. It took a lot of results and hacking away not just in the local races, UCI races too, but eventually one evening I got a call saying I could come and sign for 2017. I don’t think I’d ever been so happy to get a phone call!
PEZ: Where’s home in Luxembourg?
The team is actually based in the southern region of Luxembourg, in Esch-sur-Alzette, that’s where all the staff live, and where our service koerse is, and also a team apartment for riders who wish to stay between races – this is really handy for us, but this year it’s mainly residence for the Hungarian and Moldovian riders. I am living in Tongeren in Belgium (near by the Ardennes) with my girlfriend so it’s perfect for cycling, and only a 2 hour drive away from Esch.
PEZ: You had good rides in the Chrono des Nations and Duo Normand, last year are they big goals, this year?
Definitely so. Last year Ivan Centrone, my team mate and I rode perfectly in the Duo Normand, but with some bad luck in the beginning, we lost some time and had to work like hell to bring it back. We pushed each other like crazy and I vividly remember those last three K taking an absolute life time; we finished seventh which was good, but without the bad luck at the start perhaps would have been a little higher.
This year we will be back to give it another go though. The same with the Chrono des Nations, although I had a pretty off day last year, too fresh/too tired? I don’t know? It’s hard to say but probably the last one. It was really late in the season, and only a few days after the 1.1 Ardenne Classic, I was carrying a little too much fatigue and it kind of impacted at the Chrono. I was tired mentally and physically and just wanted the season to end. I eventually finished 16th, so this year it will become a big target for me so a lot of work and improvement to make.
PEZ: You won the Limburg TT Champs this year – that was a nice result.
I was so happy to throw on the Limburg championship jersey, it was a goal I’d had in mind and one race I was determined to come away from with a win. I was so nervous beforehand but I’ve taught myself over the years to deal with pressure in TT’s because you need to do your own thing; and you can only control what YOU do – so for me, it was just training specific, and being confident on the day and putting everything into practice. I did a lap recon beforehand and it was a very chewy course but one that suited me. I rode the first lap controlled gradually squeezing that little bit out kilometre by kilometre and after the first lap I was only 20 seconds up on the eventual second placed rider – but I had saved a lot so the second lap made all the difference with me coming in 1 minute 30 faster. It was a very satisfying day for me, and it’s still nice to see the jersey hanging up on the wall.
PEZ: Fifth in the GP Ostfenster and in Dippach, tell us about those results.
These were pretty intense races on both occasions. First it was the kermis in Bech, a really competitive race, and standard Luxembourg winter conditions it was minus 10; I think that day I had a long base layer, jersey, jacket, and Gabba with thermal gloves and heat packs inside and was still freezing – we were given hot tea in our bottles and by the end of the race, the bottles had completely frozen. But I attacked early, got away solo for a big part of the race (more so just to keep warm) I was caught in the later stages by a small breakaway including my team mate Olivier Pardini.
I went with another guy in the closing laps and we gained a good gap, we were swapping off turns doing what we could, but reeled in with three K to go. Painful stuff! I came in fifth, while Olivier finished second. The following week was in Dippach and also outrageously cold, only this time with a nice bit of sleet as well. And on the back side of the track, it was like Strade Bianche, generally just a very grim and horrible race. We had a full team there so we took control of the race from the beginning and by the last lap Tom Vermeer managed to attack on the last climb to take a nice win, while I came in also 5th, a standard result for me in Lux ha.
PEZ: What’s the Luxembourg race scene like?
Where do I start with Luxembourg kermises? It’s very nice racing there, but you have to be, ‘never outside of the top 20,’ because unlike in Belgium where a break would go, and then generally come back, or be caught by a larger group later on, in Luxembourg, once the break goes, it’s normally game over for the bunch. So my tactic, and our team tactic is always to attack early, follow every move and never leave the front of the race because once you’re away, you’re away for good. And the saying, ‘out of sight, out of mind’ applies for nearly every Lux race I’ve ever done because the roads are so undulating and really suits my kind of racing. Whenever there’s a gap in team races, I’m always up for a trip to there for a suffer fest.
PEZ: You rode Le Samyn, Museeuw Classic, Paris-Camembert, Tour of Luxembourg; you’re riding at a high level there – how do you find it in those races and how’s your recovery ?
When I first saw Le Samyn on the calendar I had mixed emotions. ‘Yes ! I’m doing my first semi classic! And; ‘s#it! I’m doing my first semi classic!’ But with these sort of races it’s just nice to experience more than anything; the slight disadvantage we had was competing against guys who had not long been back from Tour Down Under, Tour of Dubai, Tour of Valencia etc. So the difference in level in the peloton was incredible. Quick-Step had their strongest team more or less and took control of the race. Once you miss the moves in these sorts of races, it ain’t happening. This was, I think, my second race of the season, I got to 150 kilometres and remember it was minus eight or something ridiculous.
Not the easiest of introductions back to racing.
Paris Camembert was a great race for me, around five weeks of racing already done, so it went much smoother; with these Coupe de France races, it’s very aggressive with the French pro tour teams doing what they’re good at – being horribly strong and riding horribly all day long. I was in a select group up until 190km of the 200km race, then we hit this off road sector, and anybody that rode Schaal Sels with me last year, know off road is NOT my thing, it was a two kilometre, very muddy gravelled sector and there I lost contact with a few other guys, we chased for the last eight kilometres and ended up finishing 33rd, one minute off the winner. This is one of those races that you’re just happy to pass the finish line.
It was a similar story with Tour of Luxembourg, which was my first HC race, but I sort of knew what to expect from experience from the 1.1 races, slow when it’s slow, and fast when it’s fast. The Tour of Lux didn’t disappoint on that front. But in the pro races, it generally goes hard in the first hour until the breakaway goes then two hours controlled, and then one hour 30 minutes progressively faster, to reel back the breakaway. You’ve gotta save your energy while you can, and be ready for when the train leaves the station, there’s no waiting around.
We have radios in the pro races so we get constant instructions and tactics shouted through our ear.
It can be tough going though when you’re suffering like a dog and you can hear your team manager speaking through the radio about what to do. I normally put out the mic so I can suffer in silence.Generally, recovery isn’t too much of an issue, but this period has been a big one. I had two Coupe de France races in France, then two days recovery and then Tour of Lux, and Wednesday a pro kermis and then Sunday Ronde Van Limburg. But after that it backs off so I can recover and get in a bit of a training block again.
Today I went out with my girlfriend for an hour’s spin and stopped for a cheeky coffee and a smoothie.
These are the days I really love, no pressure and just riding to recover.
Occasional training partner
PEZ: TT’s apart, what’s your favourite kind of race?
Very good question, because I would normally say bowling round a super quick TT course. But I like races that mean something to me such as Fleche Ardennaise, Ronde Van Limburg, and (although I’m glad yesterday was the last stage), the Tour of Luxembourg. There’s something I found really special about these races that is unlike any other race I’ve ever done. I mean yesterday I was admiring the view on the descents thinking; ‘wow this is amazing,’ and on the finishing climb I had goose bumps all the way up, and as strange as it may sound, I kind of wish I could do it all over again just for the roads and the spectators.
PEZ: Tell us about your training, do you have a coach?
Actually my training is quite loose in a sense. I coach myself entirely, which means I have a bit more freedom than being just a slave to my power meter all the time. I know when to train hard and when to relax so I manage to do it pretty well I think. Some people love to have their training planned out to the last hour. I make each week a loose plan for myself, and base it around my race calendar, but often I like going out, seeing how I feel and going from there. These can often be the best training days. Otherwise you can end up over thinking every training session, over complicating training, and in my opinion this can do more harm than good.
Over the last few years of coaching myself, I learned to relax, take rest days when needed, enjoy being on the bike and pushing the watts when you need to do so, then you always keep it fresh. Normally I train anywhere between 18 – 23 hours per week, a lot of variation in, but I go out and have fun with it, because especially for the moment, I’m maybe squeezing in one specific training session per week around my race days. Sometimes I do love going out or going on the turbo to give myself a bit of a kicking though…
‘Going on the turbo to give myself a bit of a kicking though…’
PEZ: That would make you feel satisfied with season 2018?
This is the year I need to make a jump up in the sense of pro continental or World Tour, it’s a tough jump to make from continental, but nevertheless a jump I’m trying to achieve. Of course, you can always get better results and I’m constantly pushing myself race after race to do better and be smarter; at this level it’s very hard to win races, so it’s about using stuff to your advantage, targeting your strengths in terms of races and never giving up basically. I still have a lot of goals for this season including the Ronde Van Limburg this Sunday, Tour of Portugal in August, Chrono des Nations and Duo Normand in September. I feel like last year was the perfect learning curve I needed to be able to put it into practice this season, it’s going well so far, but still a lot of work to do.
Take a look at the Team Differdange-Losch website.
# Thanks to all the photographers – Known and unknown. #
It was November 2005 when Ed Hood first penned a piece for PEZ, on US legend Mike Neel. Since then he’s covered all of the Grand Tours and Monuments for PEZ and has an article count in excess of 1,600 in the archive. He was a Scottish champion cyclist himself – many years and kilograms ago – and still owns a Klein Attitude, Dura Ace carbon Giant and a Fixie. He and fellow Scot and PEZ contributor Martin Williamson run the Scottish site www.veloveritas.co.uk where more of his musings on our sport can be found.