I was able to choose between two cycling cultures, French and English’: Simon Carr on what shaped him as a cyclist

For each article in this column WATT WORKS FOR ME Series of weekly cyclingthe print edition of, we ask a pro runner what he likes best about training: what helped him the most to get to where he is today. The goal is to get to the heart of the beliefs and preferences they hold dear when it comes to developing form, maximizing fitness, and ultimately achieving results. For this edition, we talk to Simon Carr of EF Education-EasyPost…

You grew up in the south of France, did this environment help you develop as a cyclist?

Yeah, I think that’s really the case because I was able to race on normal roads with proper uphills even as an under 15, which is very different from the UK. Going through the French system with the Division National teams, I did a lot of high-level races. During this time, as an English speaker, I was able to get a lot of information from the internet about coaching and training – I mixed the two elements together.

Are there major differences between English and French cycling cultures?

Yes, I would say the main difference is that in France it’s much more club based – you learn directly from more experienced riders. My impression of cycling in the UK and North America is that it’s more solitary, learning on the internet or coaching remotely.

>>> Read more interviews with professional pilots from weekly cyclingThe WATT WORKS FOR ME series here

Which language do you speak more, French or English?

We always spoke English at home – a deliberate choice by my parents. Now, I hardly speak French anymore, because I speak English with my girlfriend who is Canadian, and we speak English in the team – I even started to forget French words! It’s weird, sometimes I dream in French and sometimes in English.

Driver Profile: Simon Carr

Age: 23 years old

Height: 6 feet

FTP: 390W / 6.1W/kg

Lives: Carcassonne, France

Races for: EF Education-EasyPost

Best results: 9th GC – Route d’Occitanie, 2021 11th – Strade Bianche, 2021 1st – Villafranca de Ordizia, 2020

Twitter: @scarr_98

Instagram: scarr.98

You are now being coached by Nate Wilson. Did he introduce any major changes in your training?

The main difference since I switched to EF has been more volume. Until July 2020, I was working in my family business [a supplier of small industrial engines], which meant that I only had afternoons to train. In the last year I have covered 28,000 km, compared to about 20,000 km per year before – quite a big jump. The other change, specific to Nate, was to make my training less polarized; I now do more medium intensity work, in zone 3, which I really enjoy.

Quick Favorites

Motivating song/artist?

talking heads

Place to ride?

The Col de Pailheres [in the French Pyrenees]

Type of race?

A stage with an uphill start – it thins the peloton out early

A way to spend a day off?

Go hiking, with lunch along the way

Do you stop at coffee in Britain?

carrot cake

Stopping for a coffee in France?

Cinnamon bun

Sport or hobby apart from cycling?

Motorsport – I went karting when I was younger

Inspirational athlete?

Valentino Rossi

Guilty pleasure?

Good Italian ice cream

Quality at a training partner?

Someone you get along with so well you don’t have to talk all the time

EF seems like a team that does things a little differently, is that right for you?

Yes, my upbringing – taking on aspects of two national cultures – fits in well with the team. They have riders of so many different nationalities that they allow for a bit of individuality and personality, doing things their own way to some extent. From the outside, other teams appear more formatted.

Do you have a particular specialty as a rider?

I’m not 100% sure yet. I know I have some climbing ability, but I’m not a pure climber and can do a decent TT too. I also have pretty good power on shorter durations, so I have potential for hard-hitting races like the Ardennes. The team put me in a lot of different types of races, and I did well in some races that I didn’t expect, like the Strade Bianche [Carr’s WorldTour debut, where he finished 11th].

How do you get into a big race without feeling too intimidated?

It’s about being relaxed and remembering that it’s just a bike race. If you know you’ve worked as hard as you can to train before the race, you feel relaxed and ready.

Do you have a favorite type of workout?

One that I really enjoy is a Zone 3 “push” session: four hours on a hilly course doing a low Zone 3 on the flat, a higher Zone 3 on the climbs and maintaining pressure on the pedals on descents when possible. A little hard all day!

This “Watt Works for Me” interview originally appeared in the January 21, 2022 print edition of weekly cycling magazine. Subscribe online and receive the magazine at your doorstep every week. (opens in a new tab)

Comments are closed.