Over the past few weeks I’ve been to Spain, trained hard and got way too nervous whilst watching some World Cup track racing in Colombia.
After choosing not to ride the track this winter, it’s been clear a long cold few months awaited me at home. So on being offered a week out in Majorca training I jumped at the chance! I was heading out to join my team mate Martyn Irvine – Ireland’s number 1 track rider and Olympic hopeful – who I spent the majority of 6 months last year training, travelling and competing with all over the world. I really enjoy the travelling involved with the sport and the chance to be in a foreign country is always something I look forward to. I wouldn’t have thought I’d look forward to it as much after visiting 3 continents last season, but every time I hear that I’m being flown off somewhere different I look forward to it a lot! After speaking with Martyn – who has been training with a small group of riders; Recep, Mutlu, Sofia and Sarah – I desperately missed the track scene. He had already been to Holland, Kazakhstan and Colorado Springs in the US! I don’t think it’s quite as exciting for him, as he has done it all before – and the fact he is not receiving the financial support he really needs! – but I still think it’s pretty cool. The week was spent doing the road training with the track guys and girls plus then doing a bit of extra training by myself. I would usually spend my evenings watching the guys fly round the track. I thoroughly enjoyed the week and would like to thank Andy Sparks for allowing me to come out.
Once home, the cold weather wasn’t particularly nice but was a lot warmer than I was used to for late November. I had now officially started my winter training and the new structure to my day was a great motivator. I was really enjoying going out for 4-5 hours on my own, listening to my iPod and just generally feel like I was working towards next season. With all the excitement of joining Rapha Condor Sharp and the prospect of a really good racing calendar, training was easy to do. It’s by far the most training I’ve done on the road, so looking forward to the benefits next season.
Another thought that has been in my head is that with the new racing calendar and the opportunity to race more; premier calendar, UCI 2.2 and 1.2 races is if the right results are achieved throughout the year then it is definitely possible for Rapha Condor Sharp to be the final bridge across to a top Protour team. So that will be my aim over the next 2-3 years riding with RCS. The opportunity to race these races, be able to race and learn from team mates who are some of the best riders in the UK and have the best support of any team I’ve ever been a part of, it really is down to me to work hard and improve so I and the rest of the team can achieve these results we need.
I think I’ve written enough to bore most people who are likely to read this so I’ll finish up with a quick section about the UCI Track World Cup in Cali, Colombia. It was my favourite World Cup and probably my favourite country I was lucky enough to visit last year. Luckily the guys I was supporting throughout the 4 day event did a lot better than I did when I competed in my first World Cup last year – I was 13th in the scratch race. On the first day Sarah Hammer picked up 3rd in the Women’s Team Pursuit, but from Sarah it’s always clear there’s more to come. This became true when she won the Women’s Omnium in dominant fashion – as always. Next up was Sofia Arreola in the scratch race, where she picked up another great result – after finishing 4th last year in Manchester – taking 5th in amongst a truly world class field. Last, but definitely not least was the turn of Martyn and Recep in the Men’s Omnium. Both comfortably made it through the qualifiers and then they showed the rest of the World how hard they’ve been working by taking 4th and 5th overall. Sofia was involved in a crash in the Women’s Omnium Elimination race which meant she wasn’t able to compete in the rest of the event but after taking 5th in the Scratch race the day before, it’s still a very successful World Cup for all of Andy Spark’s riders. The Olympic points Martyn picked up this round have moved him up to within 1 place of Olympic qualification. After missing 2 meets – 1 intentionally and 1 non intentionally after a crazy DSQ in the Astana round – it’s looking very very good for him!
I’ll leave it at that!