Tom ‘Minty” Murray – Image ©Copyright www.johnsteelphotography.com
July 2014, the month the wheels stopped turning on my full time cycling career. A near 10 year trip was complete. 3 National medals, round after round of Tour Series, full winters spent at the Revolution track events, several trips around the Tour of Britain and a whole load of experiences across the world stopped, crossing one last circuit race finish line!
So that was the easy bit, stopping. The hard bit… What to do? Who to become? Remembering what they told me back at Uni. How to start all over after 10 years sat in the saddle each day, not to mention who was going to make up the wet bag and food box each day.
But in truth I’d been looking forward to this day, I was lucky enough through cycling to live outside of the “rider bubble” a little, I came to enjoy working with sponsors, developing products, speaking with the media/press and passing on a “pro” insight to amateur riders through my job as full time rider. Early on I perhaps didn’t realise fully what a full time sponsored rider was responsible for other than turning the pedals, but I had enjoyed growing into that role more and more through the years. The years had also sent me on a journey through team roles, from aspiring youngster, through domestique (team helper), on to team leader and finally on to the “experienced head” of the team. Passing on experience and knowledge to the new aspiring youngsters on the team was perhaps one of the most satisfying seasons out of the lot, so much so that during that final season I came to enjoy this role so much it motivated me to keep pushing myself on and perhaps was responsible for sending me off in this new direction in some ways.
Tom Murray Tour of Britain – Stage 7 – 2010 – © Mike Morley
All that meant that come July 2014 I was more than ready to embark on a new challenge within the sport and setup Tom Murray Cycling. There have been early challenges, remembering to pack the suit instead of the Lycra, taking up a spot on the spectator side of the railings instead of the start line and remembering that I no longer have to listen to the five same songs on repeat for each hour during the summer circuit race months… FREEDOM! But the competition and the drive to be successful remains the same. The challenge now is to help others achieve their best, be it amateur cyclist, sportive master or elite racer, with the benefit of 10 years of full time cycling and a knowledge of coaching practices gained from working with those within the cycling world together with the latest coaching theories, I’m loving it!
I have discovered this whole world of cycling away from competition. A completely new direction has been a breath of fresh air, the appetite for cycling in this country at the moment is unbelievable, school kids, HGV drivers, you name it, people want to cycle and develop, through cycling packages, events and professional training days, I have spent the past year helping them do that. Changing perceptions with haulage companies, inspiring kids to take up a bike or just helping people to get going again after many years away is hugely rewarding, this whole community side to cycling alongside its competitive famous brother is developing too.
So 12 months or so on, stepping away from cycling has in fact given me a chance to become even more involved within it. The wheels are turning again, in fact there going more than ever and best of all it’s like being right back at the start all over, ready to go along for the ride again, new experiences, new challenges, new motivation!
Take a moment or two over your next coffee and head over to www.tommurraycycling.co.uk to keep up to date with the Tom Murray Cycling team and follow us @TMCyclePackages on twitter to be part of the journey!
Tom “Minty” Murray
I like reading your articles, and was wondering if I could ask a bit of advice from you?
I am fairly new to cycling, one year, and I’m 31. I did my first race a 26.5 mile “crit” for cat 4 riders today, and whilst I finished, the others riders almost finished 10 minutes ahead of me.
I know that some of them have probably been going for years, I have to admit I was little disapointed at how far away I was, despite a fair amount of training I’ve been doing. I think that I possibly should have gambled and put more effort in getting near the front early on, but I was scared of burning out early.
My question is, when you were starting, how long did it take for you to get to a level where you started getting results, or did you just take to it straight away?
Hope you can give me a little shove in the right direction.
Great to hear from you and glad you enjoyed reading the articles, planning some more in the near future so watch out for those on cyclingshorts.
I started racing when I was 15 and rode for three years on the track before I picked up a road bike, this did give me a natural speed though so in the long run did my
road riding some good I think, so I did have a young background in the sport. I can relate to you question and points, though my first season riding at an elite level in the crits was in 2007 and it took me the whole season to break into the top 20 in a national crit, thats maybe 20 – 25 events where I got better each time.
The key to riding a good crit is positioning: think of a devil / elimination event on the track where the last rider each lap is out, apply that to your crit riding. Before you set off say to yourself the first 15 mins I need to get myself a position in the top 15 riders, how hard you have to go to achieve that or as you say “gamble” is worth the risk to achieve the top 15 position. Once in the top 15 riders you have to work hard to keep that position, every time you drop out of the top 15 you need to get back there as quick as possible. Don’t ride on the front though, rider 5 – 15 is ideal if you can achieve that.
Basically if you are outside of that top 15 you will be working alot harder as you constantly close gaps after each corner or attack while in the top 15 you are getting a smoother easier ride with less changes of speed, yes I know this isn’t as easy as it sounds, sometimes you may blow up from the effort of trying to achieve top 15 but keep trying it will click. Riding like this will also mean you make the front groups if splits occur during the race.
In answer to your other question:
How long did it take to get to a good level –
I wasn’t someone who turned up and set the world on fire, I did three years living in Belgium hanging at the back of races occasionally knudging the top 20, just like you I’d get down hearted I’d been training hard and struggling to see how I could improve. After two years I sat down, looked hard at my training, got some advice and help and started to think what I needed to change to improve my results. Two years racing experience helped too, you start to understand how you need to ride the race to improve – eg the devil concept. In 2007 I came back to the UK and was the first U23 in the elite crit series. That gave me the confidence to carry on tweaking my training, I looked at how to improve my power in a sprint finish – using turbo training and efforts behind a motorbike and dropping long road rides and gained more experience from racing alongside crit experts in the Tour Series, it took me until 2012 though to achieve my goal of standing on the national crit podium. So it took some time but small improvements are possible quickly if you know what you want to achieve and think about how you can change, adapt or learn to get a better result. Basically if you always do the same you will always achieve the same result look at how you can improve and have the confidence to try it out.
Dont get downhearted, you learn more when you have a bad result than when you win, use it as the fuel to want a good result even more, look at your training, does it fit the sort of event you want to ride well in? Training needs to be specific to the event. Crits are a constant battle to recover before the next effort you need to simulate this in your training via interval sessions.The rest will come from experience, fight hard to get into that top 15 and fight harder to keep that position.
Hope that maybe helps to put you mind at rest a little.
Let me know how you get on and good luck, remember enjoy it too!
Metaltek – Knights of Old Racing Team
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L to R: Andy’s Dad, Andy Corkill & Ben Swift
Tom Murray chats to Andy Corkill
The 2012 Tour of Britain is set to be the best and most supported one ever, thanks to a hugely successful Olympic Games and a certain achievement of Bradley Wiggins and Team Sky in the Tour de France you may have to fight for your spot on the roadside to watch it!
One of those you can guarantee will be on the road side this year is Andy Corkill. Andy along with his dad has followed the Tour of Britain in its trip around the country each year since it took to our roads again in 2004. That’s not just a stage here and there but each stage each year.
In fact Andy is in danger of achieving fame at this rate. He isn’t hard to pick out along the route thanks to his ever present hat, which travel along during to the race too. In fact he is recognisable too much of the organisation, teams and even riders now, I spotted Andy myself while riding in the 2012 Tour Series crit easy enough. Who better to ask then for the fans opinion on the 2012 edition, than perhaps the most recognisable fan out there than Andy himself?
Andy, the 2012 Tour of Britain is upon us, are you ready for another hectic 10 days? And is your dad; someone you say on your own blog isn’t much of a cycling fan on board for another lap of the country?
I’m not sure, I am never ready for the start of the race, I have good intentions when the route is announced and have a grand scheme to plan where we are going to be on the side of the road, but it always arrives quicker than expected. I always end up the night before a stage planning my route.
You are right; my Dad isn’t a cycling fan. He never follows what’s happening throughout the year, but he always attends events with me. He still says he doesn’t understand the racing and it goes too fast for him to pick out anybody. He loves the atmosphere at races and being with his son!
I always say it, but I must thank my wife who puts up with me disappearing to races all year and leaving her at home with the kids. Thanks Jo.
What do you most enjoy about following the race around?
I just love being there; I like the racing and the way it all works. Guess I’m nosy and being there every day allows you to see glimpses of what happens behind the scenes. It is so far removed from my day to day work sitting in front of a computer.
It may sound strange but driving is another part of it. I love driving and would drive all day every day. So if any team out there needs a driver get in touch!
The hotels, same as the riders or tucked away in a corner?
We always stay as near to the start as we can so there isn’t much driving first thing in a morning. We have never stayed in the same hotel as the riders, I’m sure the last thing they need at dinner or breakfast is fans leering at them.
I decided a long time ago that riders, NEG, police and the organisers had their own jobs to do and I’m not going to interrupt them. If people want to talk to us that’s fine, but I don’t ever want to be in the way.
You and your dad have become part of the race in a way now, back in 2004 when you when all this started did you see it going this far?
When we first went in 2004 I had no intention of attending every stage again, it just grew into a life of its own.
It has been fantastic to see the event grow into the world class race it is now. It has established itself as a great race and is run at a perfect time to sharpen up for the world championships.
The number of spectators have grown year on year and this year, after the successes Britain has had, will be amazing. I’m worried that I may not get a good viewing spot at the finishes this year, there are going to be huge crowds.
The hat’s, we had to ask why and when did that happen?
We started wearing the hats in 2007 so my older children could see us on the TV. I must admit, we used to be a bit embarrassed about it. We used to carry them until we got to the finish line, now they are the first thing on when we get out of the car. It has been fun wearing them; we get recognised every day and have been asked for photo’s and once an autograph.
…and this year, a new design or the old faithful?
Old faithful. We have discussed a different one for next year for the tenth running of the race, but no decision yet.
So the 2012 edition…
Who are you most looking forward to catching a word/photo with on the race this year?
Rider wise, it’s got to be Bradley. But my youngest children’s favourite riders will not be riding the event, Tom Murray and Malcolm Elliott, they have never seen Malcolm racing as they are only 4 & 6, but fans of both men.
Other than that my son will think I’m the coolest if I get a picture with Kristian House.
Give us a prediction?… British winner this year maybe?
As Cav has already had a stage race victory this year, maybe this could be one for him. I think Brad would ride for him to win the Gold Jersey.
Where will the race be won, do you see a crucial stage in there?
I think the final selection will be made in Wales and Devon. I know lumpy roads don’t suit Cav but he could find the legs especially with the support of Sky.
Who is going to bring the IG Markets gold Jersey home and win overall on in Guildford?
Heart says Sky, head says Ivan Basso.
I have never been any good at picking winners except the year of 2009 with 3 predications right. That was Boasson Hagen’s year.
Keep up to date with Andy throughout this year’s Tour of Britain and beyond at www.corkadillo.co.uk
Thanks to Andy for his thoughts on the 2012 Tour of Britain, keep an eye on cycling shorts for more on the race.
Pro Cyclist for Team IG-Sigmasport
Tom Murray, Jonathan Tiernan-Locke & Dan Craven – Image © markghopkins.co.uk
The 2012 road season is heading for its close and with it comes the Tour of Britain, you will struggle to miss it this year too after all the publicity from the Tour de France and Olympics the Tour of Britain is set to be a big success this year. The streets, towns and fields will be awash with fans new and old drawn to the event by big names and unrivalled access. Now with cycling’s new fame and popularity you won’t even be able to hide from it putting your head in a newspaper, the media will be full of updates from the race as everyone looks for a British winner come the final dash up through Guildford.
Personally I’ve been lucky enough to ride the Tour of Britain three times in my time as a professional rider in the UK. As a young kid I used to stand on the slopes of Holme Moss just outside of Huddersfield and watch in awe as the riders passed by on their way over to a finish in Sheffield, I never dare dreamt of riding in the race then, to have three finishes on my CV seems a bit crazy looking back. Each time was a different experience, some positive some not so positive but overall I’ve enjoyed all three and am proud to have ridden the race.
The highlight for me was spending a day out front in a two man break on stage 7 of the 2010 edition, to spend a whole day out front in front of the British crowd, clocking up the king of the mountains prizes was pretty special. It was a massive day not just for me but it was the first participation in the Tour of Britain for my team (Team Sigmasport) and everyone involved in Sigmasport as a company too. When the stage finished it had been a defining point of both my career and that of everyone involved in the team from staff to sponsors, it was a great feeling to be part of that. Since then plenty has happened and this season in particular has seen some ups and downs, but to always have that day in the Tour of Britain to my name is a pretty good feeling.
Tom Murray Tour of Britain – Stage 7 – 2010 – © Mike Morley
The 2012 edition will see others riders clock up their day in the limelight, maybe define their careers or maybe their step onto a bigger stage. For some riders it may be the biggest event they ever compete in, for others it may be a relatively small week out, but that’s part of the races beauty, riders of different experience and reputation mix and become equal for one week. The guys that define their careers may not be the ones at the top of the result sheets at the race finish. They might not be your Olympic hero’s or World Tour stars, everyone has the chance to write some headlines, I didn’t think I’d be grabbing any in 2010! This Tour of Britain as ever looks even more difficult than the year before; the organisers seem to have a good talent for hunting out some of the most challenging terrain out there. Having raced up Caerphilly Mountain once in the 2011 race, heading over twice will really test those at the business end of the race and could really cause some race defining splits; it will certainly be a day that the classification hopefuls will have to be aware. The stage in and around Stoke always provides a hard days racing, with not just climbs but often exposed sections over the top of the climbs to contend with and heading through the challenging countryside around Dumfries could possibly see the race split to pieces. If the weather of the past few years in this area pays a visit again it could be the hardest day of the race.
Possibly alongside Caerphilly Mountain the defining stage for the Overall Classification though is most likely to be stage 7 over Dartmoor. The area is defined by short but incredibly steep climbs, from my own past experience; although the stage in this area has not yet defined the classification it has the potential to do so. Previous years have always allowed groups to reform before the finish after lengthy changes, maybe this year that won’t be the case.
Whatever happens in the 2012 edition though, the Tour of Britain is already guaranteed to be a success. The next generation of riders will be standing on a hillside somewhere watching the race come by much like I did. Maybe they will form part of the Tour’s peloton a few years down the line, maybe even write themselves some headlines along the way.
Keep an eye out on Cycling Shorts for more on the 2012 Tour of Britain.
Team IG-Sigma Sport Presentation 2012 - Image ©Copyright Team IG-Sigma Sport
Team Sigmasport-Specialized of 2011 has become Team IG-Sigmasport of 2012, to most this is a name change and not much else but in reality it’s a lot more than that, it’s a new direction and a great new opportunity but it’s also a great reflection on the direction cycling is taking in the UK at the moment.
The last two years has seen a lot of development within the Sigmasport-Specialized team and it’s been great to be part of it. Since I joined the team for the 2010 season we have gone onto become UCI registered, take in the Tour of Britain, Tour Series, Premier Calendars, stood on national podiums and enhanced our reputation across the water in Europe competing in France, Belgium and Holland. The team’s development has mirrored that of the flagship store of Sigmasport down in Kingston Upon Themes, which now operates out a grand new building and feeds the ever growing appetite of a new breed of cyclists.
It’s been exciting to be involved with the development, as a fan of the sport you see us riding around criterium’s or plugging through road races, but it’s not all about the racing. Spending time with sponsors and promoting events and products is just as much part of the job now. As interest in the sport has grown, so has the responsibility to be accessible and open to your own sponsors and the public who want to become involved at events throughout the year.
So now moving into 2012 the team has taken a new step, another stage in its development. IG Markets have come on board as title sponsor and our role as riders has grown even more diverse and important. The first month of the season has seen me standing on the rooftop of IG Markets in Central London for a photoshoot, heading fourteen hours across the world to Singapore for a Criterium, doing laps of Manchester Velodrome with a camera attached to the bike and having a shiny launch of new kit and products in the big smoke of London. Of course there’s been some bike racing too, that is after all the ‘day job’, in fact it’s been a strong start for the team in its new guise with five race wins already under the belt.
It’s race wins that make a successful team but with cycling’s new corporate popularity and with more and more of the wider public choosing to watch and become involved in the sport it’s key to be open and accessible to develop that ‘ownership’ vibe so people in the offices of IG Markets of whoever your sponsor may be can relate to you and truly feel part of the team and journey.
After stepping off the plane in Singapore and having some rest we were taken to meet some of the IG Markets employees of the Singapore office, while they enjoyed meeting the faces behind the jersey’s they see and support, it was great for us as riders to meet people that follow you from half way across the globe. They may follow us through social media or websites but now they have a face to put to the image and report too, it was great to develop that link with them.
It’s great that cycling while increasing in popularity and demand does keep this accessibility. So a team name for us this season is much more than just a shuffling of the title, it’s an opportunity to push the team in new places and develop the connection the public and sponsors have with the team both at events and away from them. It give’s everyone a slice of the action!
You can see Team IG-Sigmasport at all of Britain’s top races this season and follow them through both Twitter and Facebook. You can now also log into the riders training and race information through the Strava website and find out more details on the team’s own website. Now you can’t get anymore helpful than that!
Tom Murray - Image © Anna Magrath Cycling Shorts.
This winter I set off to the Gent, Six days full of enthusiasm and excitement, its somewhere I have great memories off, somewhere I have passed down many a story about to my friends, family and anyone else who would listen. But there is a problem, a worry stuck in my head I think the world needs to know, but first I better tell you why I qualify to worry about the six days.
The Kuipke track has always been close to my heart, in truth it’s the whole reason I got to ride a bike for a living. As a young kid my parents took me across to Gent to watch the six day with Ben Swift I remember us both sitting there staring in amazement as the six day rolled on and on into the early hours of the night and the party in the middle of the track got more and more wild and out of hand. I made a decision there and then that I wanted to ride the six days, I wanted a piece of that atmosphere to be part of the whole circus, it felt a lot more than just a bike race is was entertaining and a real show.
The thought of riding at Kuipke in the six days didn’t leave me and a few years later I moved to Gent to live with a Belgian family in the heart of cycling land. Riding for the Kingsnorth International team I spent three years riding on the kermis circuit out in Belgium, a great experience. One that taught me how to be a racing cyclist in truth and in 2007 I was finally lucky enough to get an invitation to ride the Noel Fore Memorial event on the Kuipke track. It had taken some getting there but I had made it onto the track in Gent. Even better was that after a good performance riding with Peter Williams against mostly national squads we received an invitation to the UIV amateur six days of Gent. It was the best news ever; I was to be involved in some small way in the six days! I remember the six nights well, it was hard, a real learning experience, some nights went well others went awful but it didn’t really matter I was part of the six day show, full of adrenaline and excitement.
After that first amateur six day, over the next three years I was lucky enough to ride twice more in Gent and once in Amsterdam, Dortmund and in between took in International events in Alkmaar, Munich and on the new Eddy Merckx track in Gent. Every event was a new experience, a new place, different people a proper adventure, you didn’t always know how you would get from place to place. Once along with Tom Smith I was stuffed in the back of Iljo Keisse’s car along with his huge number six flower after been left stranded in Amsterdam! But that was all part of been immersed in the six day circuit. Although I never got to step up to the professional six day circuit I am happy that for a small while I was part of it, even if that part was pretty small.
So what’s my problem? Well, the atmosphere at Gent this year was pretty subdued, the showmen or orchestrator of the sixes seemed to have disappeared (granted Keisse who is probably the current star of the sixes wasn’t able to take part) and the crowd seemed more interested in the bar than the track. My theory on the reason for this is the changing face of track racing, something that was once fairly individual that didn’t rely on you been in a big backed trade team or part of a national set up now seems to be exactly that. Add to this the exclusion of the Madison from the Olympic Games and it seems like while track racing is becoming universally more popular and important the six days is not been pulled along with it.
In my last year of riding the amateur six days it became more difficult to gain an entry as a result of not been the ‘national’ selection of your country, it had changed from riders who had done it off their own backs, who wanted to be there and be part of it, people who travelled in the back of transit vans from event to event all to be part of the six day circus to deadly serious national selections who the majority of the time while respecting the events were gearing up for bigger and better things on an international stage. This year when I went back and saw the UIV amateur six it was exclusively national selection teams, that’s not that there’s a problem with those riders I’m sure they want to be there and enjoy the experience but in reality there going to move on from the six day circuit to focus on World Championships, Olympic Disciplines or a road career, leaving little for the professional six day circuit to pick from when they look for new riders.
I think that’s the problem, while as the sport gains in popularity the professional six day’s may have to come in line with new format’s that interest a wider audience but the amateur six days should always allow entries from those who have their own dreams and ambitions and follow them. These people are where your characters come from after all. The current six day star Iljo Keisse grew up riding on Kuipke, his dad owns a bar just round the corner from it, he’s a true six day rider who grew up watching the six days and wanted to be part of that, take away the possibility of that happening and in effect your killing the six days slowly. True there are still some rides left, Franco Marvulli and Danny Stam spring to mind, but what happens when they have hung up the wheels, where are the next true six day riders coming from?
Sport’s grow, evolve and change, the UCI in their wisdom have proved this by booting the Madison and individual pursuits out but some things should stay the same for their own good.