The Scottish road racing season kicked off last Saturday at Gifford and any fears of ‘same old, same old’ were quickly dispelled by ‘Master Tom Arnstein’. The first year junior was too strong for time trial specialist Arthur Doyle at the finish, after spotting the danger in an early break and bridging across.
Tom took time to speak to VeloVeritas, the day after his win.
Congratulations, Tom — that was your first senior road race?
“Thanks, yes… it was a surprise!”
Did you have thoughts of a win at the start?
“No, as I said, I was surprised but I knew I had good legs and had tapered into the race so was well rested.
“I wasn’t struggling at all during the early laps.”
Talk us through that last lap.
“My team mate Robin Wilkins went away through the start of the last lap, it wasn’t part of a plan to give me an easy ride but it let me sit on.
“He was pulled back but went again on the last climb, Arthur and Davie Lines brought him back then Arthur countered and I went after him.
“I rode across to him pretty steady and started the sprint with around 300 metres to go – and Arthur couldn’t get back to me.”
Prior to Gifford what was your best result?
“I’ve had a few reasonable results but probably the best are third in the Isle of Man Youth Tour, last year and I won the Mayo Youth Tour in Ireland in 2010.”
How did you get into cycling?
“I picked up a mountain bike magazine at school and thought; ‘that looks interesting.’
“I saved up, bought a mountain bike and got into racing — I’m quite a competitive person.
“It was my coaches who steered me towards the road and track.
“This is my third proper year of racing road and track.”
Who is your coach?
“Mark McKay coaches me — but not as part of Scottish Cycling, off his own back.
“But I am on the Scottish Junior Programme.”
What training principles do you work to?
“Basically heavy then light session alternating — I’ve put in the odd run up to five hours over the winter but haven’t started any interval training yet.”
You’re from Burntisland?
“Yes, it’s hard to get an easy recovery ride in, there are hills whichever way you go!”
What are your ambitions for 2012?
“It’s my first year as a junior and I just want to learn the ropes, so I’d like to ride the National Road Race series.
“I’ll be spending a month racing in Durango in Spain — Mark McKay has organised that for me.
“And the GB Track Nationals are on the agenda.”
Are you still at school?
“Yes, I’m in my last year at Balwearie in Kirkcaldy.
“I plan to go to university; the University of Strathclyde would be ideal — with the new velodrome opening.
“I’ve been down to Manchester Velodrome to race but it means an awful lot of travelling.
“I rode some of the Revolutions but didn’t do anything special — it was a great experience though and it’s good to get advice from established senior riders.”
And you rode the British Madison Championship?
“Yes, I love riding madisons; we managed 140 of the 200 laps in the champs.
“I’ve done a lot of madison work in training — if you can ride them it equips you for all aspects of track racing.”
Who do you admire as a rider?
“I have to mention Mark McKay; he’s been a great mentor for me.
“I like Classics riders who aren’t afraid to have a go — Thomas Voeckler in particular.”
Does going abroad figure in your plans?
“That’s definitely part of the plan, it’s possible I may defer going to university and go to France or Belgium.”
What’s the next target?
“On March 25 I’m part of the Scottish team which rides the Cadence National Junior Road race series event in Wales.
“I hope to ride four or five of the series, I can’t manage all six or seven.”
And what about the bobble hat?
“That was a joint effort — my mum knitted the hat and did the bobble!”
Well, they do say; ‘if you want to get ahead, get a hat!’
With thanks to Tom and wishing him all the best for the rest of the season.