It’s been another successful British track championship for the Scottish contingent with two of the blue riband events coming north of the border, the Kilometer to World Champion Chris Hoy and the Sprint to World’s Silver Medalist Craig Maclean.
In addition, Ross Edgar, Kate Cullen and Evan Oliphant all “medalled” – as the Americans would say. VeloVeritas spoke to Craig a few days after his win.
Another British sprint championship Craig, how many is that?
“I believe that’s seven, but I’m not a stats kind of person; all told I think that’s over 25 British titles now though.”
Is it hard to get pumped-up for the British championships after the Commonwealth Games and World’s?
“The standard at the British championships is much higher than it used to be; there are so many guys at World level now. A British title is worth more than it used to be but it is hard to find motivation after you have been to so many. That said, once you are there and racing then you get into the mindset that there’s a job to do and you get on with it.”
That World’s Sprint Silver behind Theo Bos ( Holland) was a wonderful result. Was it a surprise, and – can you beat him?
“I was surprised, aye. It wasn’t my main event, I was riding as ‘consolation’ for not being first choice for the team sprint. I qualified second fastest so I thought I would just see how far I could go. Bos is a lot younger than me but I don’t see why I can’t beat him. I still have confidence in my ability and I’m stronger now than I was at the World’s.”
Given that training is so event-specific nowadays can you train for both sprint and team sprint?
“There are fundamental differences. The training even within the team sprint is very specific, I generally ride first man so there’s a huge emphasis on the standing start which isn’t a lot of use to you in match sprinting. In fact, that kind of training can actually compromise your sprinting.”
When does your Worlds build-up start?
“I ride the sprint tournament at the Grenoble Six Days in a few weeks then there’s a World Cup in Sydney; that’s the start of the build-up proper to the World’s. Grenoble will be good because it’s not too serious; you get to hone your sprinting skills, stuff like looking behind and positioning on the track. There’s not a lot of pressure on you but it’s six nights of racing so it’s good training.”
Which events will you be riding at the World’s?
“There’s the team sprint, but the individual sprint is by no means certain with five guys competing for two places.
It will be even tighter at the Olympics where there’s just one place – it’s all getting very cut-throat. It’s going to be an interesting couple of years.”
What do you think of the new World’s dates in the Spring?
“I prefer it because it means that we are doing most of our base road training during the summer in the UK and the indoor track work is in the winter so I like it.”
Who will be the guys to beat at the World’s?
“In the team sprint it will be the usual suspects – Australia, France – and the Dutch are going to be a threat.”
Who were your heroes on the track when you were young?
“I was never really a young cyclist! I got into it from BMX, starting to ride time trials when I was 21.
I was 23 or 24 when I got into the track so I didn’t really have heroes. There were a couple of good Scottish sprinters around at that time who I admired though – Eddie Alexander and Stuart Bryden.”
Bejing in 2008 is obviously a big target, what then?
“I’m not going to be drawn beyond that, we’ll just see what happens. I’m still improving, my times are coming down so there’s no reason to even think about stopping.”
What about this new generation coming up behind you – riders like Matt Crampton?
“It’s given us a bit of a kick up the arse, there are all these youngsters nipping at our heals but even they have the next generation chasing them. It’s taken a while but it shows that the World Class Performance Plan is working.”
If you could change something about your career so far, what would it be?
“I wish I had started earlier. I was into BMX initially but I always looked like a sprinter. It would have been good if some one had grabbed me earlier and pointed me in the right direction.”
What’s been your worst cycling experience?
“The Olympics in 2004 when I was ill coming into the Games, I knew it was going to be a hit or a miss but I couldn’t have foreseen how big a miss it would be, I was devastated.”
And your best cycling experience?
“Being chosen to carry the flag at the 2002 Commonwealth Games was very special.”
VeloVeritas wishes to thank Craig for his time and to wish him every success for the coming track season.