We all know everything about Armstrong, Contador and the other top names in Pro cycling, but they all had to start somewhere. A young English rider called Mike Cuming has shot from club cyclist to promising Pro in two seasons so nothing is impossible.
This is his story so far…
Mike, this year you’ve signed for the resurrected Team Raleigh which is a UCI Continental registered team, what were your thoughts when you received the offer?
“Yes, I was made-up to get asked to join them, especially when I heard it was going to be a UCI team so I was surprised to be a part of it – even more so when I heard the names of some of the other riders.”
Tell us about the team, what is their aim?
“They have a three year plan to be racing back with the big boys.
“For this year the Tour Series crits are an important part of their season for the publicity – but our Manager, Chris Truett really wants to get the team racing abroad.”
Dan Fleeman came to the team from Cervelo, has he been a driving force?
“Well the first time we all got together at our managers house I was sitting next to him and had to go out off the room to ask Rich Handley (another team-mate) ‘hey Rick see that bloke over there, is that Dan Fleeman?’
“It was great when I found out he would be part of the team, it made me feel like I was going to be part of something big.”
The season before you rode for the Raleigh Avanti RT, did this give you a good base to move up a league?
“Yes – we didn’t really work as a team, we all did our own thing which suited me – and they provided me with everything I needed and I got to know the guys at Raleigh who really helped me like Geoff Giddings, Raleigh’s Marketing Director.
“You could really tell the difference between the two years – the Avanti launch consisted of three of us sharing some crisps and a couple of packets of sandwiches and a coke at the Nottingham factory- and the following year I was in a posh hotel with fancy food, lots of photographers and naked chicks – even though Rick didn’t look impressed!”
Tell us how you got to where you are now?
“I’m still trying to get there!”
Have you had any contact with the British Cycling Plan?
“No chance – you’ve got to be willing to do track and it’s not for me, riding round in circles for hours!”
Do you have a coach?
“Yes, Andy Patterson, he lives in New Zealand so it’s dead handy for me!
“Actually, it works quite well because we can do everything over the internet and talk on Skype.”
What about education, you’re 19, college, university?
“Finished college after A levels and the rest is on hold – forever!
“Studying and I don’t really go together.”
Your father, Dave, was a top British amateur and professional rider in the 70’s and 80’s, riding in Belgium for many years as well as in the then burgeoning British Pro scene. I guess he has helped you a lot?
“He’s my Dad and I try to take no notice of him.”
Another son of a famous rider; Tom Barras (son of Sid and ex Viking team mate of Mike’s Dad) is in your team, he had been based in Belgium, is that something you would want to try?
“Hey if going to Belgium allows me to grow facial hair like Tom then I’ll be there tomorrow!
“Yeah, I think I would really enjoy that, but I would want a bit of racing in the sun too.”
Your Dad was always good for a long, lone break and your Mother (Louise) and Grandfather (Jim Ogden) were top time trialists, so solo riding is in your DNA. What kind of rider do you see yourself?
“I do enjoy riding time trials. Time trialling is something that I have always done, my first race was a time trial and I still do the local 10’s and 25’s because I enjoy them, and they’re a great way of training.
“As you say, I have good DNA for long solo riding – it’s just a pity I can’t sprint like Cav, that’s where the wins are at.”
You broke your wrist at the start of May, but after only four weeks you were back mixing in the action with a plaster cast on the arm. Can you tell us about it, or does it still hurt?
“I was absolutely gutted when it happened – I had just started to get some form with a win and a few placings, it was at the Chas Messenger Road Race.
“The lead motorbike went slightly off course and a few of us at the front followed him. I had slowed right down to turn and someone hit me from behind – so I can’t have been going more than a few miles per hour, but put my hand out to stop the fall and cracked my bone in three places.
“Four weeks later I was put in for a Tour Series event whilst the majority of the team was in Norway, purely to make up the numbers.
“A crit can be hairy at the best of times but having just broken my wrist it made it seem worse!
“I managed to scrape ’round them both, even having a bit of a dig in the round in Exeter event, and didn’t really have bad pain coming from the wrist so I was happy to get back.
“Also, I was in the break of a Premier event; the Ryedale GP. Three of us were away at the start of the race for about 40 miles.
“”The race was 112 miles, the first long race after my broken arm.
“I was off the front for 40 miles and stayed with the bunch until 100, but then blew with a vengeance! The plus was the great coverage on the TV for Raleigh when they showed the race, lots of shots of the break, but the bad news was the commentator (sorry Brian) got my name wrong again and again – so a 2nd cat called Stephen Guymer who rides for Raleigh Avanti got his moment of fame, whilst I was the one busting myself.”
The race scene in Britain at the moment is quite big and varied with the longer Premier category road races and the televised town centre crits, what do you prefer?
“Road races – no question!
“Although I did enjoy the Tour Series races – they are very exciting to ride and I think they’re just as exciting to watch.”
The Raleigh team will ride the Tour of Britain, any chance we will see you on the start line?
“That would be the dream – especially as the race goes up ‘Gun Hill’ – a climb about 5 miles from my front door.
“With the broken arm however, I have missed all the stage races with Raleigh – and probably haven’t had the preparation, so I can’t see it happening.
“It’s been a tough first year with the lows and I have yet to experience the highs.”
Armstrong or Contador?
“Can’t beat a bit of Lance – unless of course you’re Contador, then you can.”
What about Cav, Millar and Wiggins?
“Can’t really forge a decent opinion on them because I’ve never met them, but I bought some wheels off Wiggo last year and he did them me cheap so he seems all right.”
Do you have a cycling hero?
Are you interested in other sports?
“Football. I love to play it and love watching it.”
Without being too controversial; Liverpool or Everton?
“Liverpool, been a red all my life.”
Is there a Mike Cuming career plan?
“No not really. I just go with the flow.”
Forget reality, what would be your cycling dream?
“To get to ride a Grand tour, classics, biggest and best races all over the world.
“And to win some as well!”
Young Mike has the DNA and the ambition to get where he wants in cycling, good luck Mike -maybe you will get the facial hair before the Tour win?