Sunday, October 17, 2021
HomeInterviewsCraig Maclean - Trackside at the Worlds

Craig Maclean – Trackside at the Worlds


Martin: “Here! Ed! Shouldn’t we be doing a piece about the World Track Champs?” Ed: “They’ve never been the same since Daniel Morelon retired and Hughie Porter had that crash, then they ditched the big motors and…” Martin: Hold on – go and speak to Craig Maclean!

Ed: Aye, right, he’ll know a bit, being an ex-world champ and all…

Craig, thank you for taking the time to talk to us; are the qualifying criteria too strict for the Worlds now — we seem to have lost a lot of the characters?

“It’s been like that since they streamlined the Worlds in the mid-90’s; I don’t think it makes any difference to the eventual winners.

“But outsiders can still make it through; Olga Panarina of Belarus, who was fourth in the Women’s sprint was in on a wildcard, she only rode one World Cup.”

Craig MacLean
Much of the racing took place in front of small audiences.

What happened to the fans?

“Apparently it was sold out over the weekend but there were a lot of no-shows; they certainly weren’t a vocal crowd.

“It seems that it was hard to actually get your hands on the tickets until immediately before the events; a lot of people didn’t want to take the chance of travelling and not getting their seats.”

A good track?

“It looks good; Nimke’s kilometre record certainly showed the potential.

“The way it’s designed, it’s hard to come from the back; the transitions are difficult if you’re trying to get over someone who’s on the black line.

“Once the riders had figured that out, you could see that they wanted to go from the front.”

Craig MacLean
Who knows what would have happened, were it not for the crash.

Would Kennaugh and Cav have won the Madison if there hadn’t been the crash?

“People could see how the race was unfolding as well as I could; they certainly didn’t seem to have taken a grip of the race, like the Danes did, but maybe they were biding their time — who knows?”

Cav’s 7th place in the scratch was a bit disappointing.

“I think he was just using it to find his track legs for the Madison; but maybe he was just a little over confident – I thought he made a lot of little moves, instead of saving himself for one major attack.”

Phinney, Wiggins; hugely impressive – but hasn’t the pursuit lost it’s cachet since the big road stars stopped riding?

“I think that it gives it more credibility that guys can’t just come off the road and win it — if it was that easy then it would demean the event.

“We’ve moved into a different era now; specialisation – if you don’t specialise then you can’t win.”

Craig MacLean
Taylor Phinney will break many more records, when he gains strength and uses the big gears that everyone else does.

Phinney, pursuit gold, kilometre silver — special!

“He’s an awesome athlete, but I think that the UCI might be looking into that suit he was wearing, he could hardly move his arms; it looked as if it was designed to hold him in the perfect position.

“If you look at his kilometre time, it shows you how much he has in reserve when he goes through the first kilometre of a pursuit.”

Daniel Davie; a 1:02 kilometre, but we saw a 1:01 from him in a World Cup — a disappointment?

“I don’t think so, he hasn’t trained for it; he hasn’t done the lactic tolerance training that’s required for a kilo.

“He’s trained as a sprinter and won’t have gone beyond 500 metres; that shows because his first half is very quick.

“I think he has a lot of sprint potential; he did 10.1 at a Revolution meeting at Manchester.

“With the kilometre not being an Olympic event, British Cycling isn’t going to spend the money on training for it.”

The sprint seemed more tactical this year — less ‘drag racing?’

“It was a good series; but if you look at the qualifying now, it takes a 10.2 to get through — it used to be 10.6.

“And there’s very little between the times of the qualifiers, that means that you can’t just ‘take off’ and leave a guy, it’s too close for that, you can’t be certain you’ll beat him.

“The silver medallist, Awang from Malaysia was very exciting, he’s got a big future ahead of him; he made one error against Bauge and paid for it — but I think he’ll be world champion, one day.

“He’s trained by John Beasley in Melbourne and has a lot of track time with the Aussies.”

Craig MacLean
Awang has arrived – and has a big future ahead of him.

What’s your take on Theo Bos going to the road?

“It was something he talked about as long ago as Athens; if he’d won there, I think he’d have made the move.

“He’s not getting any younger and, if he wants to do it, it has to be now because it’ll take him a year or two to get fully into it — I also think that Chris did his head in with his performances at Beijing.”

Silver for the GB team sprint, will they be happy?

“Yes, it was a good time and Matt Crampton rode a sound third lap; but they were never going to beat the French.”

Only fourth in the team pursuit.

“They’ve had a few problems — Ed Clancy broke his foot and they had a food poisoning scare.

“Their times weren’t exactly slow (4:00); I spoke to their coach and he reckoned that the potential of that line up if they’re all on song is a 3:57 — given that their eye is on the London Olympics in 2012 and they have four years to work on it, I don’t think they’ll be unhappy.”

Craig MacLean
This one was for her.

Vicky Pendleton was tearful after the sprint.

“It meant a lot to her, previously she’s always felt obliged to win for someone else, but his time it was for her self; that was why she was so emotional.

“She took three medals from three events and so did Lizzie Armistead; those were very gutsy performances.”

Will David Brailsford be happy?

“He’ll be more than happy — he’s already said so.

“He was adamant that they hadn’t come here with domination in mind, but they took away nine medals.”

Could the SKY road team launch and hype cause team GB to take its eye off the track ball?

“I don’t think so; they’ll draft in the management to handle it; I think Shane Sutton will be very happy to be involved with the road again and there’s a full structure of coaching and management in place for the track.

“To a large extent, the riders drive the programme now, anyway; they want their place on the plan, the competition, the medals.”

Did you enjoy commentating?

[Craig worked for the BBC during the Championships, doing trackside with Gabby Logan and in the box with Hugh Porter – ed.]

“Yeah, it’s different, quite stressful, you have a narrow window to say something concise and relevant — I don’t think people realise how difficult it really is.”

With thanks to Craig for his time and insights.

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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