Tommy Bustard
Tommy Bustard. Photo©Martin Williamson

The winner of the first big Scottish road race of the season – in bonnie Gifford – was Velosure-Giordana’s Tommy Bustard.

Velosure is a cycling-specific insurance company whilst Giordana is one of the clothing brands imported by Phil Griffiths – the man behind the team.

Frames are by Pinarello – another of Griffiths import brands – and groupsets by Campagnolo.

The team is managed by Malcolm Elliott and Bill Nickson and is registered UCI ‘Continental’ – a proper set up, in other words.

And if you think the name Bustard looks familiar then cast your mind back to last season’s David Campbell Memorial Race in Fife where Bustard and his then Herbalife team mate Harry Tanfield grabbed second and first places respectively.

On the subject of Tanfield he was the ‘mystery man’ who took third spot in the recent Gordon Arms Hilly TT – looking good in his GB skinsuit.

But it’s Bustard we wanted a word with – we can’t have these Englishmen coming up and winning our races and then not ask them what it’s all about.

If you’ve been paying attention to the ever-more sparse ‘local results’ in ‘Sportives and Road Tests Weekly’ (aka ‘Cycling Weekly’) you’ll have seen that Bustard scored a good win in the early season Roy Thame Cup; a hotly contested road race in the south – so the form was there.

Tommy Bustard
Tommy has started the season in good form. Photo©Martin Williamson

Tell us about your background please, Tommy.

“I was born in Edinburgh but brought up in Middlesbrough, this is my fourth season of racing bikes – I did triathlon at university but got into cycling after I left.

“I met up with Nathan Edmondson – he’s the brother of Josh, the Sky professional – and he took me under his wing.”

Tommy Bustard
Tommy (R) in action at the Davie Campbell Memorial RR last year. Photo©Martin Williamson

You were Herbalife in 2013?

“Yeah, I had four wins but I gave two away to team mates – probably The Sheffrec Spring Road Race was my best result, I beat Dean Downing to win that one.”

And you had a Belgian adventure?

“I had two top ten placings and reckon I could have won one of them but then the guys in the break with me started talking about money! (Sounds about right, ed.)

“It was a great experience and didn’t really want to come home after it.”

Didn’t you fancy Belgium for 2014?

“I’m 25 years-old now and work full time – but if I was younger I’d have loved to have lived and raced there.

“Hindsight is a great thing I get angry with myself thinking about what, ‘I should have done.’”

Tommy Bustard
Bill Nickson is one of the forces behind the success of the Velosure-Giordana RT.

The legend that is Bill Nickson is team manager with your squad.

“Yeah, I’m fortunate, he’s so laid back but really understands what his riders’ needs are.

“The set up is much different to Herbalife, last year – with guys like Bill and Malcolm Elliott on the management staff.

“Bill’s approach is to keep things simple and it works very well – he’s very clever when it comes to talking about the parcours, weather and tactics.

“He was watching me last year – particularly at the Tour of the North in Ireland and that’s how we made the connection.”

Did the team have any training camps?

“Yes, but I couldn’t make them because I was working.

“I work full time and I’ve never had a coach, I’ve never been full time on the bike – I’ve always worked at least part time.

“I make my own schedules and this year I’ve had to concentrate more on quality than volume; in terms of time on the bike I’m doing half what I did last year.

“I was only working part time in 2013 which made it easier to get the miles in.

“I do what I can and don’t put myself under pressure.”

Why come up to Gifford?

“The race programme in England is poor and I’ve always done quite well when I’ve come up to Scotland.

“Last year I rode the Davie Campbell and Anderside Classic – I’m not being disrespectful but it’s very negative racing in Scotland which makes it very hard to win.

“You have to be canny, patient because you’ll get chased down – it’s very tactical racing.”

Tommy Bustard
Tommy did the right thing at Gifford in the face of the tactics – attack. Photo©Martin Williamson

In the Gifford race they thought they’d bring you back to the break on the last lap, but…

“I won the Roy Thame race with the same tactic, if you can get a 30 second lead then you can relax a little, if you get that on the last lap then you know they’ll start looking at each other to see who’s going to chase.

“I was tanking along in the 11 on that last lap and knew they’d have to be going some to catch me.

“I heard that there were guys getting dropped from the break because they were going so hard.

“In the break we were working pretty consistently but I knew that once I was away then they’d stop working together to see who was going to chase me – that’s why you have to learn to keep your powder dry and wait.”

What’s the programme now?

“We have the Circuit of the Dales – that’s a 50 mile mountain time trial (won by Busturd’s team mate James Gullen) – then it’ll be the Tour of the Reservoir (won by Scotland’s Evan Oliphant in 2013) and Tour of the North in Ireland.”

Tommy Bustard
Tommy stayed clear of the chasers for a well-deserved victory in sunny East Lothian. Photo©Martin Williamson

What do you want out of 2014?

“I want to do well in bigger races; I can’t class myself as a ‘big’ rider at the moment – not until I win a big race.

“I struggle a bit in the bigger races but if you give me a little time…”