VeloVeritas spoke recently to Commonwealth Games Team Sprint Silver Medallist Charline Joiner after her ride at the Rotterdam Six Day.
You were 10th last year in the Rotterdam Six, how did you do this year?
“I finished 11th overall in this year’s Rotterdam.
“Not what I would have liked but the programme was a lot different this year to last year.
“A 50 lap point race was added to the schedule every day; last year the longest race was 35 laps, three of which I did not finish.
“There were also two flying laps in the schedule last year which bumped my placing up – I finished 3rd and 4th in those events having just switched from sprinting to: endurance.
“This year there was only a three lap pursuit on the last day.
“I found that I was under-geared the first four days, unable to attack and finishing the races less tired than the other girls, my legs felt fine after four days of racing which was odd.
“I moved up my gear on the last two days and managed to attack and win some points in the 50 lap points getting 3rd in a sprint in one race and the last day I got two 3rds in the points placing me 7th overall in that race.
“My best result of the 6 day was a 5th in the Scratch race.”
And your overall feeling from the event?
“The learning experience was invaluable in the sense that: believing in my ability, I could push a higher gear.
“I won’t make that mistake again.
“It also allowed me to test out: pre-race rituals.
“I found that for me I need to find a quiet place with my headphones on: to compose myself before the racing begins allowing me to be more focused when on the track.”
Has Rotterdam lead to any other Six Day invites?
“Yes, I have had an invite to the Fiorenzuola Six Day event in Italy.
“I will be going out there to improve on my results from Rotterdam and show off my Italian passion for the sport with my granddad being Italian.”
Why change to endurance?
“I could have gone either way when I started cycling with the sprint gene in my family (my big brother playing winger for Scotland rugby) and endurance (my dad competing for GB triathlon and completing eight IronMan events).
“I chose sprinting.
“After Delhi with the new omnium event, I thought it was perfect for me, it had sprint and endurance events in it and with team pursuit being all about speed and endurance I thought I could also work on this event.
“The Scotland coach Graeme Herd and my dad Mike were both behind me and thought it was a good idea.
“There’s no track to train on in Scotland in the winter [Meadowbank Velodrome having no roof] while every other nation at the top of sprinting has one.
“Changing to endurance meant a lot of my training would be on the road.”
Which events make up the Women’s Omnium at the top-level?
“Points race, Scratch, Elimination, Pursuit, 500m TT and the Flying Lap.”
Which are your strongest and weakest disciplines in the Omnium?
“Having a sprint background I would say the Flying Lap and 500m TT are my strongest.
“Having only focused on road miles and track endurance racing last year I lost a lot of speed but needed to build a base to work from so this year is all about keeping that base and building on it but also working on my speed again.
“After all the timed events are the only ones you can control, the bunch races have more variables that may get in your way of winning.
“I am also building on my pursuit time.”
Will they apply the Olympic rule in the Commonwealth Games where the Omnium rider has to come from the Team Pursuit ‘pool?’
“I’m not sure about that yet, the manual hasn’t been written, but I know for a fact it’s in construction as we speak.
“There will be three athletes able to represent Scotland at each event, it’s just finding three athletes who can qualify.”
Will Scottish Cycling be putting a Women’s Team Pursuit squad together for Glasgow? and is that a discipline you’d like to be involved in?
“This is also under discussion at the moment, whether to put the Team Pursuit in or not.
“I think it will be in and it is definitely something I would like to compete in at Glasgow.”
The Omnium requires a lot of kit that you don’t need for sprinting – will Scottish Cycling help with that aspect?
“To be honest Scottish Cycling hasn’t got a big budget, in fact I know they only have three sets of racing wheels at the moment.
“The athletes have to look for external sponsors for extra kit such as race wheels and: aero bars.”
What are your plans for a road programme? I would imagine that you’d need to ride a good road programme to gain core strength for the Omnium.
“Yes this year’s programme will involve a lot more road racing including the national women’s and vets series in Scotland and Ingilston criterium in the spring.
“With racing in the USA on the track and in criterium in July and Holland August time.”
How’s Dunfermline as a base for training?
“It’s alright, it only takes five minutes to get out into the countryside from where I live but the potholes on the roads are terrible.
“The drivers can be quite unsafe also.
“I finish on a hill after every road session as I live at the top of one, that’s got to get you fit!”
How much difference will it make to you when the track opens in Glasgow?
“A massive difference!
“I’ve heard there is 12-15 hours booked up each week already for the Scottish athletes.”
Have you ever considered being a road rider? – there’s: not a lot of money in women’s track cycling.
“When I was a sprinter I would never have thought I’d say this but recently I have been thinking about it more and more and it is a possibility that one day I will go down the path of road racing – but at the moment my heart and passion is for the track and I’m putting all my efforts and energy into those events.”
And in that vein, it must be difficult for you to fund your sport?
“Yes it is difficult, at the moment I work as a personal trainer for my dad’s ‘at-home’ training business, I have six clients a week and I am going to start working evening shifts at the bank in the: mortgages: department.
“Last year I was funded by the Braveheart fund which made a massive difference and enabled me to go training to Girona in spain for 3 weeks.
“FES FM are my external sponsors and they helped fund my training camp in the USA, racing track twice a week for 7 weeks last summer.
“Cycling is such an expensive sport. I would rather spend the money I get from funding to travel and gain racing experience. This is what I have done in the past.”
What’s the ultimate goal for you – and what are the ‘milestones’ towards that?
“I focus on training 100% in every session, pushing past the pain barrier to get to my goal of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
“It would be a dream to go and win a medal.
“Depending on how I am going after Glasgow, Rio may be in my sights but all I’m thinking about right now is training and improving.”