Monday, July 26, 2021
HomeInterviewsJames McCallum - "This year is about development and mentoring"

James McCallum – “This year is about development and mentoring”


As James McCallum (Rapha Condor Sharp) prepared for the recent Tour of Normandy (won by Europcar’s Jerome Cousin) he took time to talk to VeloVeritas about his hopes for the 2012 season – his sixth as a professional.

McCallum first caught the eye in 2001 when he won the Scottish kilometre championship and over the years he’s built a solid block of track palmares, including omnium silver in 2004 when he finished behind Ben Elliott in the British championship on Meadowbank velodrome and Commonwealth Games scratch bronze in 2006 behind a certain Mark Cavendish.

But latterly he’s flourished as a criterium and road rider, with his finest hour coming in 2007 when he won the British criterium championship and just days later blasted a top quality field to take the Smithfield Nocturne in London.

And despite having the field all over him like a rash in Scottish road races, he’s proved very hard to beat on home roads.

James McCallum
James looking uncharacteristically serious. Image©Dean Downing.

Your 2011 highlight please, James?

“James McCallum: Our Rapha Condor Sharp team won the Tour Series criteriums and we had good results in the National Criterium Series.

“And it was good for me in the sense that nothing negative happened to me!”

How did you spend the winter?

“I did quite a lot of running; I was out three or four time each week.

“I also did some cyclo-cross races – it’s very different mentally to what I’m used to.

“But it’s a good work out at lower speed on the ‘cross bike.”

James McCallum
James made good use of his ‘cross bike in the winter.

Did the team have training camps over the winter?

“Two – we were in Lanzarote for 10 days.

“It was more of a meet and great for the new, young recruits to the team.

“But we did drills to start instilling the team mentality.

“That’s what the team is about – the group, and John Herety is a master at team building.

“Then we had another camp, a couple of weeks ago.

“The full team was there and it was more race specific, to prepare for the Tours of Taiwan and Normandy.

“Team spirit is John Herety’s big thing.”

What about the revamp in the squad – the emphasis is on youth?

“The team this year is about development – Dean Downing, Kristian House and I all have a mentoring role to perform.

“John has worked with the National team to provide a bridge for young riders between the UK and Europe.

“The team has been very successful at ‘growing’ riders – look at Jonathan Tiernan Locke and Zak Dempster, there’s little doubt they’d be in Pro Tour teams if the money situation wasn’t so tight, all round.”

James McCallum
James and the some of the team enjoying the sunshine at the training camp. Image©Peter Fowler.

What are the team goals for 2012?

“To keep the team as successful as it was in 2011; which will be hard because we’ve lost a couple of good guys.

“Dean Downing and I have the responsibility in the televised crits, but I want to do more stage racing.

“I rode the RAS last year; I got four or five top ten placings and came out of it in great condition.”

How’s the programme looking?

“Short term, after Normandy we have the Tour of the Dengie Marshes, the Tour Doon Hame and the Rutland.”

Will we see much of you in Scotland?

“Apart from Doon Hame, I’d like ride and win the Davie Bell, again – I like racing at home.

“Whilst it’s hard racing in Scotland, it’s good training because I get so closely marked!”

James McCallum
James near the front up Tweed Brae during the Peebles Criterium. Image©Chris Bryant.

Is there much room for track in the programme?

“I’ll be riding the British track championships as an experiment – thinking about preparation for the Commonwealth Games in 2014.

“The Glasgow track opens in October and I’m very excited about the prospect of riding there.

“Track work where you’re riding at 35 mph has to be good for you!”

You’re sixth season as a pro, what’s changed on the scene?

“There are a lot more teams; and they now ride as organised squads making the Premiers faster and more strategic.

“And there’s a more even spread of talent across the teams now, with riders like Ben Greenwood having their own teams.

“When I started it was really just Plowman Craven and Rapha.”

Do you have a coach?

“No, but I’ve had a relationship with Graham Herd for three or four years where we float ideas past each other but not specific coaching, as such.”

And you’re coaching, now?

“I have 14 riders who I coach; and last year I started helping the riders on John Anderson’s Bicycleworks team.

“It’s not that I’m signed up to anything; I just like to help the young riders and teach them about racing.”

James McCallum
Cornering at warp-speed. Image©Gordon Goldie.

Who’s going to surprise us from Rapha in 2012?

“Richard Handley, the ex-Raleigh rider is going well – don’t forget that he almost won a Tour of Britain stage.

“Oliver Rossi is a big strong lad; he had wins in Belgium, last year and was the national junior time trial champion.

“He’s very quick in the sprint – he’s been coming round Deano and me in training.

“And we have the Aussie riders, Ben Grenda – who’s been Aussie under 23 criterium champion – and Richard Lang who’s been Aussie omnium champion and won a UCI race last season; the Trofeo Banca Popolare Piva in Italy.”

Has Jonathan Tiernan Locke’s amazing season start surprised you?

“No, he’s always been good – I remember when I was in the Plowman Craven team with him he was going very well in the early season races in Mallorca.

“John Herety has to be given credit for doing a lot to build Jonathan’s confidence.

“One of his big faults was that he seemed to always be in the wrong part of the bunch – not now, though!

“I just hope that the right things happen in his career from here on.”

James McCallum
James sorts out a puncture on a training run. Image©Renner.

And if you could change one thing about the UK race scene?

“I’d like to see more Premiers in Scotland.

“But the Tour Doon Hame has been cut to two days – financially, times are hard and I guess that we have to be happy we still have one Premier Calendar race in Scotland.”

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.

Related Articles

Dan Fleeman – Moving from Racing to Coaching

'There's a time to come and a time to go,' the words of Danny Stam when he announced that he would retire at the end of this winter season, the Dutchman is 39 years-old. But whilst the former British under 23 road race champion, twice British hill climb champion and Tour of the Pyrenees winner, Dan Fleeman is 10 years younger than the six day man, he's arrived at the same conclusion.

Richard Davison – “Personalised coaching employing genomics is the coming thing”

It’s not often we have a professor in the pages of VeloVeritas but that’s exactly what Richard Davison is; as well as Assistant Dean (International) at the University of the West Coast of Scotland. He was also instrumental in the setting up of British Cycling’s current coaching system and does ‘one on one’ coaching with riders. Richard was also a successful rider on the Scottish scene a year or two back – and that’s where our interview starts...

Aldo Sassi – Our 2009 Interview with the Late, Great Coach

In these times devoid of racing it’s that much harder to produce content so we look back at work we’ve done in the past for inspiration. A decade ago I was fortunate to get an introduction from professional - and now DS with EF – Charly Wegelius, to the late, great, Aldo Sassi one of the most respected coaches of his generation.

Dan Fleeman – Coaching in a Lockdown

In these ‘Strange Days of COVID-19’ if you’re a racing cyclist, what do you do about training? We asked ‘Dig Deep Coaching’ founder, Dan Fleeman for his advice on how to train in these trying times. Fleeman is a long-time friend of VeloVeritas, past winner of the British u23 Road race Championship, the Tour of the Pyrenees and rode as a professional with DFL, AN Post, Cervélo and Raleigh...

Jon Sharples – the man behind Trainsharp’s “Perfect Bank of Knowledge”

Coaches, everyone has one these days and a name which keeps cropping up when we interview riders is that of Jon Sharples and his ‘TrainSharp Cycle Coaching’ company. In time honoured VeloVeritas fashion we ‘had a word.’

Jody Warrington – How Riders Can Cope in a ‘Lockdown’

In the overall scheme of the world’s current predicament, guys not being able to race their bikes doesn’t even register but if you’ve been training all winter to realise goals you set yourself for the season and overnight they’re plucked from your grasp it’s not easy to handle. We spoke to one of the most respected coaches in the area, Jody Warrington about how riders can cope with ‘lockdown.’

At Random

Heinrich Haussler – “everything is good with me at the moment”

He’s back; IAM’s Heinrich Haussler was ‘quiet’ last year but in January he grabbed the first major result of 2015; the Australian Elite Road Race Championship. IAM stepped up to Pro Tour status for 2015 and this season could hardly have started on a higher note for HH, with a win in the Australian Elite Road Race Championship – never an easy race to win given the number of Aussies in the Pro Tour and the high standard of their domestic racing. He followed his win up with a whole host of top ten stage placings in the Tour Down Under and in the Tour of Qatar.

La Volta a Portugal 2012 – Stage Ten: Sintra-Lisboa

Stage Ten of la Volta a Portugal 2012 started with a ceremonial 37km where we pottered along behind the winners. I felt awful.

The Escape Artist by Matt Seaton

"The Escape Artist" by Matt Seaton, the critically acclaimed memoir about his obsession for cycling and how that obsession was tamed. For a time there were four bikes in Matt Seaton's life. His evenings were spent 'doing the miles' on the roads out of south London and into the hills of the North Downs and Kent Weald.

Bremen Six Day 2019 – Nights Four, Five and Six

The Bremen Six Day 2019 is done and dusted. If truth be told, it wasn't the worst final I've ever seen but I have seen better. As expected, Iljo & Jasper took the victory with the best points total AND a lap.

Le Tour de France 2012 Prologue: Liège ITT, 6.1km.

It's here. Le Tour de France 2012 Prologue. The endless analysis is finally over, there's rubber on tarmac, folks hanging over barriers and commentators getting their facts wrong, already.

Giro d’Italia 2007 – Day 3: Stage 2, Tempio Pausania – Bosa

It's 06.30 on Monday morning and we're in Macomer, Tempio Pausania, Sardinia. It's going to be another beautiful day; there's not a cloud in the sky and the sun has begun its climb. Yesterday was one of those days that makes you realise, you only think you know about pro bike racing.