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Rab Wardell – A Trip Into The Unknown

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Whilst Endura have been getting all the attention recently, other Scottish riders have been looking to raise their game too. Rab Wardell is taking his talent south – to Southport’s Kinesis team. We caught up with him to talk about the move – eventually. (Rab is a fan of having his mobile on ‘silent’ after five pm – but of course, this means he doesn’t hear it when it rings!).

You’re a regional development coach with Scottish Cycling – what does that entail?

“Working with schools and young people to steer riders towards the Scottish youth squad; it’s all geared towards getting kids racing. And if they show promise, get them on the fast track to race success.”

Is there still a “Chris Hoy effect?”

“Cycling is a cool sport at the minute – I’m hoping the hype remains until the summer – you just have to look at the fields for the youths’ cyclo-crosses this winter, they’re through the roof.”

Rab Wardell
Rab in his previous guise as a top MTB’er.

You’re background is in mountain biking.

“Yeah, mostly, I never had any outstanding results but I was always there; top ten. I was top three in the British U23 mountain bike champs and rode for GB, where I got a couple of decent results in UCI mountain bike races in Belgium and Turkey.”

What’s your best road result so far?

“I was fifth on GC in the Tour of the North and was third on a stage – but I should have won that!”

It’s 100% road now?

“Yes, I’m focusing completely on the road from March. I’m training better that I ever have before, maybe less volume but more effectively.

“I learned a lot about training when I was at the Commonwealth Games with Evan Oliphant and James McCallum. I think I used to over-train before, the volume of training I do is down, but I think I’m smarter with my training.

“When I was with the Tayside and Fife Institute of Sport they were big on heavy weights sessions in the gym, to build strength – with that, on top of road training, I was just doing too much.”

Rab Wardell
The Commonwealth Games Road Race bunch – can you spot Rab?

So what’s inspired you to become a road man?

“I came back after a year out and I was really just playing at it, but I did a bit of training for the first Super Six.

“The scene seemed good and it was good to be back racing, part of a team. I’ve become more interested in the road – the distance, the speed, the tactics.”

Why Kinesis?

“I out CVs to folk I know and Kinesis got back to me. It’ll be good to be part of a strong team and to have good support.

“They’re taking a chance with me, but they remember me from my mountain bike days and they know I’m a good climber – most Premiers are hilly, so you have to be able to climb to perform in them.”

Rab Wardell
Rab has performed well this season for Sandy Wallace Cycles.

Isn’t it a contradiction, working for Scottish Cycling then joining an English team?

“I don’t think so; I wouldn’t want to race against Sandy Wallace’s team – he’s been so good to me, ever since I was a junior; and my brother manages the shop.

“I’m going to get access to the best races and I won’t be racing against anyone I’m coaching.”

Kinesis, a frame and bike company?

“UK designed, Taiwan manufactured frames – really nice. I was down at Kinesis and saw the team frames, they’re very light and rigid.

“We’ll be on Dura Ace groupsets; with Oval bars, stem, seatpins; Reynolds wheels and Vittoria tyres. I’m looking forward to having a really top notch road bike; whan I was mountain biking, it was your off road bike that got all the attention and nice equipment – the road bike was your ‘second’ bike.”

Is it a good package?

“Bike, kit, travel, even sun glasses – it’s not costing me money to race.”

Rab Wardell
Leading the bunch in a Super 6 race.

Your programme?

“We’ll be riding the 13 Premier Calendars, the Ras and the Tour of Serbia. It’s five man teams for Ireland and Serbia and I want to be one of the five!

“We’ll be up for Girvan and I’m hoping to get the guys up for some of the Super Sixes; the team’s Canadian riders will be based in Preston, so that’s not too far away. I’ll be also be riding the Scottish Championships.

“My first race will be the Eddie Soens.”

Team goals for 2009?

“We want podiums, whether it’s GC, mountains or stages. We want to race aggresively, get in the breaks and get the name out there.”

Your goals?

“It’s a bit of a trip into the unknown for me, so I want to go in fit. I’m looking for top 20’s in Premiers; I’m hoping to climb well.

“I’m looking forward to the Ras and I’m looking forward to having a job to do for the team – supporting the guys who are going well.”

Rab Wardell
Bike handling skill won’t be a problem on a roadbike.

Despite his “defection,” we wish Rab well and hope it’s not too long before we’re interviewing him again.

Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 45 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, team manager, and sponsor of several teams and clubs. He's also a respected and successful coach, and during the winter months can often be found working in the cabins at the Six Days. Ed remains a massive fan of the sport and couples his extensive contacts with an inexhaustable enthusiasm for the minutiae and the history of our sport.

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