Meet Graham Briggs, Clancy Briggs Co-Founder
When did you realise you wanted to be a professional cyclist and how did it happen?
I played football to start with until I was 16 but fell out of love with it and wanted to do something more individual. I’d loved riding my bike from a young age, loved the freedom it gave me and I went all over on my bike.
I was working at a bike shop in Rossington when they suggested I have a go at racing, so I had a go at some cyclo-cross races on my mountain bike in Sheffield, really enjoyed it, and I just went from there really. I don’t really remember learning to ride but my Mum and Dad tell me I was riding confidently by the time I was 3 without stabilisers.
I started doing some national mountain bike series’ - I didn’t have great success - was probably top 20, but I was up against kids who had been riding since they were really young. I still loved it though and was determined to do better.
I got a road bike and started doing more training on the road which increased my fitness on the mountain bike and I started winning some regional mountain bike races but then foot and mouth happened and put a stop to mountain bike racing.
So then I started doing some road races and got success quite quickly. I was third at the Junior National Championships and never really went back to mountain biking after that.
In 2007, John Herety gave me a spot on his team, he’s been a big influence on my career and always believed in me.
Tour Series 2014 with John Herety
What would you say is your biggest career highlight?
The National Championship in Beverly in 2011 and when I won a big stage race in France in 2014. I’m probably most proud of winning the stage race in France because nobody expected it!
It was a 5 day stage race and people would have me down as a sprinter who wouldn’t be able to win a stage race. It’s nice when you do something that people don’t expect.
Graham at the Stage Race in France 2014
How did you and Ed Clancy meet?
When I got picked for GB to ride some races, that’s where I first met him. Then from 2007 we were in the same professional teams, and we got on well so we’d room together and we always had a good laugh.
Ed Clancy rides with Graham’s son, Ruben
You have a 6 year old son, Ruben, do you think he’ll follow in your cycling footsteps?
I won’t push him but if he wants to go that way, I’ll just encourage him to be active, use his bike, do ramps, have fun. He’s got a little road bike the same as mine so he loves going out at the same time as me.
It was your idea to set up the Clancy Briggs Cycling Academy - what inspired you?
We were on a training camp in Australia, and since I’d always got on well with Ed, I thought us doing something together would work well. We talked about what we’d do when we retired and the academy came up from there.
Initially we thought about just offering it in schools but then the opportunity became bigger once the Doncaster Cycle Track opened and we’ve also now created a Clancy Briggs Cycling Club that’s affiliated with British Cycling.
Lots of people have helped me in my career so I want to try to pass the knowledge that I’ve got onto the kids coming to the academy.
What do you enjoy most about running the Academy?
Seeing the smiles on the kids faces, or when you get a parent that’s tried for so long to get their kids riding without success and then you get them riding in a couple of sessions - that feels really good.
Seeing them on the track, socialising and making new friends. When new kids come to the groups and some of the existing members look after them and take them under their wing, that’s so nice to see.
What would be your main piece of advice for any youngster thinking about pursuing a pro-cycling career?
Probably just don’t get too serious too soon. There’s a lot of kids who are super serious at 12 and they’re into power meters and heart rate which is good, but they need to also have fun on their bike. They don’t want to be burnt out at 16! It’s a long career, so while you’re young, just have fun out on your bike, learn and enjoy yourself at the same time.