Last year it was the British points race jersey which Mark Stewart came away from the National Track Championships with; this year he was runner-up in the event – but he did win the scratch race and was in the winning team pursuit squad – so not a bad old ‘British’ for the Dundee man.
We caught up with him a few days after his medal spree.
A nice win in the scratch, Mark.
“It was a good hard race, I was conscious that we had to make it tough because Kian Emadi [we interviewed Kian after his 58 kilo in Mexico] was riding, he’s shifted from the sprint to the endurance programme but I knew he’d be a danger man if we took him to the finish so we had to get rid of him.
“I got a lap on the field and another four joined me on that lap – the five of us went again and took another lap.
“When we got on the string coming in to the finale I stayed at the back then with around three laps to go I came round everyone – Dibben was coming back at me at the end but I held on to win.”
Then you won team pursuit gold with 100% Me.
“100% Me is the GB Academy trade team, you can’t ride all your races as a GB team and obviously you can’t ride the British as a national squad.
“We knew going in that we should win, it was really just ‘another day at the office’ for us.
“The Scottish teams went well but we qualified fastest in 4:11 albeit I wasn’t in the lineup for that round.
“I did ride in the final where I was man one; we rode 4:06, which we were happy with, we caught the Scottish team so you lose a little having to go round the other team but you get the ‘pull out’ effect when you’re catching them – they’re a target to go for.”
So you didn’t ‘peak’ for the champs?
“It’s a difficult one; we have a big track season coming up so we have to keep training hard for that but I did ‘freshen up’ – maybe trained a little less hard and rested a bit more…”
And still on the Cervélos for the team pursuit?
“Yeah, they’re good machines, very stiff, aero – but I mean, Cervélo know what they’re doing when it comes to frames.”
And a good team pursuit champs for Scotland.
“Yes, ten Scottish riders on the podium shows that that the track in Glasgow is doing a great job, developing riders.
“The Scottish guys rode well in the sprint disciplines too – it bodes well for the next Commonwealth Games.”
You lost your points title though by just three points.
“Yeah, that was disappointing but Olie Wood is an Academy rider and is a strong guy.”
We last spoke you after the Tour of Yorkshire, what have you been up to since then?
“I’ve ridden a lot of stage races – including the Tour de L’Avenir which I was really enjoying.
“I wasn’t going to do anything special but I was confident of getting through it and enjoying the experience until the bearings collapsed in my front wheel and it seized. I was in the gruppo and there was no car team behind so I had no option but to abandon – it was really infuriating to have a finish in a high profile race like that snatched away from me.
“It’s a tough race with everyone there to win; they know that it’s a passport to a pro contract if they ride well.
“I did a lot of learning in that race and it’s helped convince me that I could be ‘up there’ on the road.”
“I have the London Six Day with Germain Burton, that should be a great experience and I’ll be trying to pull out a good performance – then we’re into the World Cup season.
“There are three – Japan, Columbia and New Zealand.
“The GB ‘podium’ guys will ride some of them but not all – just enough to qualify for the Worlds and Olympics so the ones they don’t ride will give us an opportunity to ride.
“Then in December we move our base to Italy, like the days when Max Sciandri looked after the Academy guys out there. Brian Stephens, who was the Aussie U23 coach for years is looking after the endurance riders on the Academy, now.
“He’s Neil Stephens’ (the top Aussie ex-pro) brother and was involved in the development of guys like Simon Gerrans, Michael Rogers and Michael Matthews.
“If I can achieve what the Academy guys who were in Quarrata have – like Mark Cavendish, Geraint Thomas and Peter Kennaugh – than I’ll be happy!”
And what’s 2016 about for you?
“I’d like to continue to develop – and impress on the road.”
VeloVeritas will keep an eye out for Mark through the winter – we might even manage a coffee with him at the London Six Day…