Following in the footsteps of Scottish track stars Mark Stewart and Katie Archibald, we believe Scotland’s Joe Nally to be the youngest ever winner of the British Senior Points Race Championship at just 17 years-of-age.
The race was held at the Manchester Velodrome but Nally is another product of Glasgow’s beautiful indoor track; taking bronze in the team pursuit to go with his points gold.
‘Best have a word with the man,’ we thought ourselves here at VeloVeritas.
Nice ride, Joe – give us the basic info first please.
“I’m 17 years-old from Charlestown in Fife, I’m at school, in sixth year, ride for Hardie Bikes and am on the GB Junior Academy.”
Tell us about the Junior Academy.
“It’s training camp based so we stay at home but go down to Manchester roughly once a month for a four or five day camp.”
You won the championship race by ONE point – what was your expectation going in to the race?
“I’d have been pretty chuffed to make top ten before the race and to start with, I played it how I usually do in a points race and did nothing for the first 40 laps.
“I just waited and soon after the 40 lap mark a move went clear and I joined it – we took a lap and that put me on the leader board.
“I started to ride to defend my place on the board and as I did that I moved up after every sprint.
“With three sprints to go I felt comfortable; it was sprint points every 10 of the 120 laps with double points on the last lap.
“It was that final sprint which got me up there; I was doing the maths as we rode and pretty confident that I’d done it but it wasn’t ‘til I saw it up on the result board that it truly sunk – it was a bit of a shock to see my name up there.”
But you didn’t make the Scratch Race final?
“No, I put that down to a bad night’s sleep – I was disappointed but given that I won the points and we got the team pursuit medal I can’t be disappointed with my championship.”
Bronze in the team pursuit…
“Yes with Andy Brown, Angus Claxton and Evan Oliphant – it’s something we’ve trained for, but due to school commitments I could only train once each week whilst the rest of the team have been doing two sessions.”
Can Scotland field a strong team on the Gold Coast in the XXI Commonwealth Games, next year?
“I’d like to think we can, this summer I can start making a bigger commitment to training getting through for both of the training sessions.”
And you won the Scottish scratch and points championships earlier in the winter.
“Yes, in November; I actually found the step up from youth to junior relatively easy to cope with; I was never great over the short youth distances on the track and in criteriums – I always preferred the distances to be that bit longer. “
How did you get into cycling initially?
“My parents were into all sorts of sport and I used to go cycling with them.
“And then when I was eight I joined the Carnegie Cyclones club in Dunfermline; it’s for under 16’s and I trained – or maybe I should say ‘mucked about’ – with them riding MTB and ‘cross.
“I got my first road bike when I was about 11 years-old.”
How much difference has having the velodrome in Glasgow made to you?
“It’s made a big difference; it puts us on a level playing field with the guys down south – we’re not playing catch up with them anymore.
“I go through twice a week, once for team pursuit training and once to ride the track league – on a good night it takes about 50 minutes but if the traffic is bad then it’s about 90 minutes.”
Track bikes aren’t cheap anymore; carbon frames, deep section carbon rims, discs – do you get help?
“Yes, it’s not a cheap sport – but our club sponsor, Craig Hardie has been very good, helping out and giving me equipment at cost price.”
You’ve had some nice road results on the continent?
“I was 17th in the junior Gent-Wevelgem after a crash and 11th in the junior Paris-Roubaix.”
(Both are Nations Cup Races, the UCI’s season long junior international road racing competition, ed.)
Road or track, which do you prefer?
“I still prefer road – that’s where I always wanted to be.
“With the Academy it’s 50/50 road/track; we have a good road programme prior to our preparation for the European Track Champs in June – we ride the junior versions of Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, Gent-Wevelgem, Paris-Roubaix and we have a race in Limburg.
“Last season was quite hard going with having exams then all the travelling – this year we’ve tried to structure it with less travelling for me. “
Who’s your coach with the Academy?
“Stuart Blunt, the approach is relatively old fashioned; we only do two power tests per season at this stage – a lot of it is simple stuff with how I feel playing a big part in what I do.”
What’s 2017 about?
“Stepping up – it’s all geared to get me into the senior academy.”
And if you could win just one race?
We wish Joe every success for the future – and incidentally, that road along through Joe’s home village of Charlestown was one of the favoured training runs of pro grass track legend, the late Jock Ward.
Back in the mists of time I’d ‘cross’ Jock, me on my Campag equipped 12 (or was it 14?) speed Harry Quinn, the great man on his fixed ‘gress’ bike with NO brakes – they don’t make them like Wardie anymore.