Le Tour, The Commonwealth Games, The Tam Gordon interview – there’s just been so much going on at VeloVeritas recently that we must have missed something?
Ah yes, of course, Edinburgh Road Club’s Matthias Barnet winning the British Under 16 Criterium Championship on the technical Hog Hill circuit at Redbridge, London in July, for one thing.
This was the second year in a row that the ‘ERC’ provided the champion in this category, with last year’s winner Ben Forsyth not lining up to defend his title.
‘Back in the day’ you had to qualify to ride the British Schoolboy Champs by gaining a high place in the Scottish Champs but Matthias explained to us that it’s now down to qualifying points to get into the race.
It’s still on restricted gears though, 52 x 16 with 120 prospective young Cavs on the start line hunting that nice red, white and blue British champion’s jersey.
We asked Matthias if there was a plan before the start;
“I was going to sit in for the first two thirds of the race and just watch the good riders.
“I put in an attack at half distance but sat up at the top of the hill after about 200 or 300 metres – then attacked finally with two-and-a-half laps to go.
“Daniel Tulett (Hargroves Cycles) came with me – he’s won the title before and is on the Talent Team – and we worked together but as the finish approached I sat on and then came past him to win.”
Tulett is the current ‘wonder kid’ of British Cycling – granted a place on the British Olympic Development Programme two years earlier than is the norm and billed as the, ‘next Bradley Wiggins.’
Time will tell.
Matthias’s title win didn’t attract a lot of attention in Scotland but did merit a feature in the Evening News.
When we spoke to Matthias there had been no approach from British Cycling about joining any of their programmes and here in Scotland there’s no official programme for youngsters, to our knowledge.
The story of how got into the bike is a good one.
In 2009 his dad – who’s a tennis coach – took him to a Kraftwerk concert at Manchester Velodrome;
“Kraftwerk were playing in the track centre with a light show as the Olympic team pursuit squad lapped the track on the their low profiles with disc wheels in – it was so cool that I was hooked by it.”
Since then Matthias has built an impressive support network;
“My parents have been hugely supportive and I’ve had good guidance from my club mates, Ken Whitson in particular.
“But as I’ve progressed I’ve received professional coaching from NFTO rider, James McCallum and from Richard Davison who’s a sports scientist and physiologist and used to race himself.”
Back when VeloVeritas rode schoolboy events we cobbled together our re-sprayed Andy McNeil frames with cottered chainsets, steel Campag Gran Sport gears and Mafac brakes.
As a matter of interest I Googled ‘Andy McNeil’ it appears that Andy built a good frame but had a bit of a drink problem in latter years – that explains a lot.
But I digress, Matthias rides a Giant TCR Advanced SL with Dura Ace Di 2 ‘customised’ by Velo Ecosse from 11 down to 10 speed.
Changed days; we were on five speed – I can still remember the joy of going up to a compact six speed freewheel.
Matthias’ performance in the British was only one of a string of good result – he was second in the Scottish Youth Tour prior to the British and rode strongly in the Tour of Donegal.
And his talent isn’t confined to the road; he’s a regular at Meadowbank track and the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome with particular interest in the omnium and pursuit for the future.
But whilst he doesn’t mind riding time trials, he admits he’s no ‘tester.’
The midterm plan is to make the Olympic Development Programme then get on to the British Under 23 squad.
We hope to catch up with Matthias again at the season’s end to hear how he did in forays to Germany, Ireland and the Sainsbury’s School Games in Manchester.