It would have been his 13th Worlds; but for the first time since 1996 there will be no one from Granton-on-Spey on the British track team, when the series kick off in Manchester in a week-or-so. VeloVeritas caught up with Craig Maclean on the day ‘The Guardian’ told us that he won’t be pulling on a GB ‘speed suit’ for the team or individual sprints.
Can I just check your palmarès, Craig?
“Worlds Team sprint: Bronze 2001, 2003 and 2004; Silver 1999, 2000, 2006 and 2007; Gold 2002, plus Olympic team sprint Silver in 2000, and Worlds Individual Sprint: Silver 2006?
“If you say so, Ed! I’ve ridden every Worlds since 1996, this would have been my thirteenth participation, so maybe it’s as well I’m not riding.”
Tell us about the injury.
“I tore a glut (gluteus medius muscle) in the gym, last October and whilst I could still ride my bike, there’s 2000 watts of difference between riding your bike through the lanes and doing the type of work that you need to do to train for the Worlds.
It meant I missed a lot of foundation work and by the time I had recovered I went straight into the World Cup series, trying to get speed but without having done the base work.
My form hasn’t really built because you’re trying to go well all the time; if I had gone back to basics I wouldn’t have had the speed that’s required.
This is a time when you are constantly under scrutiny, to get points for Olympic qualification from the World Cups and to get selection for the Worlds.”
I read that you had withdrawn, rather not being selected?
“I was offered a trial to ride as second or third man in the team sprint and also for the individual sprint and keirin, but even if I had won selection, it would have been a compromise.
It would have been great to ride at Manchester and win a medal, but I’ve won a lot of Worlds medals, now the Olympics are the main thing.
I’ve actually started foundation training for the Olympics — I did that right after I made the decision not to ride and I’m now totally focused on the Olympic trials, which will probably be in early July. Its more gym based but there’s no substitute for riding your bike and I’ll be doing base work there too.”
So, Jamie Staff has your place as lead off rider?
“For a wee while anyway!”
Will you watch the Worlds?
“I’ll watch the individual sprint – that would be helpful from a tactical point of view. But its tough watching the team sprint, I did it once before and it wasn’t enjoyable — I’ll maybe watch the recorded highlights on TV.”
Who are the teams to beat in the team sprint?
“France, definitely, Germany and the Dutch have come on. The Dutch really only have three guys, but that can be a big positive; I remember when it was just Chris, Jason and me, we were totally focussed on the job, there were no selection worries, you knew that it was just the three of you and what had to be done.
If you have to keep fighting for a place I think it can get to a point where it’s almost counter productive because you’re thinking about selection all the time, rather than the race.”
Can you talk about the new hardware?
“I’d talk about it, if I knew about it! We’re kind of out of the loop on that, I don’t think that the bikes will be radically different but there are developments with skinsuits and helmets. They leave it ‘til late with things like that so as the other teams can’t see them and copy them.”
Has this injury set you to thinking about ‘life after the bike?’
“I’m actually very positive just now, I’m totally focussed on Beijing, to think beyond that would be negative — it’s all or nothing for the Olympics!”
Glad to hear it Craig!
We’re sure you’ll join us in wishing Craig every success in his preparations for Beijing, and would like to thank him again for taking the time to talk to us.