Scotland’s Michael Nicholson was in fine form for the four stage Tour of the North, held over the Easter weekend in Ireland.
He took eighth in the stage one prologue, seventh on stage two, won stage three and was 11th on stage four to give him a final second on GC behind VeloVeritas blogger, James Moss (Node4-Giordana).
Before Michael came home to Bonnie Scotland to prepare for his trip to the Emerald Isle, he took time to talk to us about his 2012 campaign with the Flanders team.
How did the winter go, Michael?
“I worked in Dooleys shop in Glasgow over the winter. Graeme Herd is coaching me, now – less hours but more specific work on the road and on the turbo.
“The turbo is a last resort, though – I can do blasts on it but couldn’t sit there for hours.”
We saw you in action in the Gifford road race – not a great result for you?
“It’s the only race I’ve done in Scotland, this year.
“I felt all right but there was a bit of the ‘chase the chasers’ syndrome going on – and I did notice my back wheel was covered in snotters at the finish.”
When did you cross the North Sea?
“I wasn’t going to go ‘til April but I decided to go over early to get in shape for the Tour of the North at Easter.
“I’ll be riding with Jack Barrett, Taylor Johnstone and Rab Wardell as Scotland U23.”
Where are you based in Flanders?
“I’m in Callum Gough’s flat in Oudenaarde with Taylor, who’s racing over there, too.
“Oudenaarde is pretty much the centre of the cycling world just now.
“There’s a De Panne stage finished there and the Ronde finishes there too.
“But unfortunately, I’ll be at the Premier calendar race, the Tour of the Dengie Marshes that weekend.
“But if you want to go to see the big races, it’s no bother in Belgium – everywhere is just a short train ride away.”
Remind us of your best Belgian results in 2011 please, Michael.
“I had a best of fourth in a kermis and a seventh and an eighth in Inter Clubs.
“They’re the bigger races and if you win one of them then you’ve made the grade.
“I was close last year but this year the goal is pretty much to win an Inter Club.”
You’ve had some decent results, already.
“I had a fourth from a 150 field and a 7th the other day – but I missed the split.”
What are the goals for this year?
“In the kermises I have to win a couple and I have to get on the podium in the Inter Clubs.
“I had an offer to ride for the Geofco-Ville D’Alger Continental team – but the trouble with that is it restricts which races you can ride.
“But getting back to Inter Clubs, you just have to look at the previous winners list on the programmes to see that they’re the stepping stone in to the pro ranks.”
How does the Flanders programme look?
“It’s developing – I’ll be able to ride the Inter Clubs, but the rest isn’t certain, yet.
“There’s talk we’ll ride the Triptyque Ardennais, again.
“We rode that last year, the list of previous winners is scary – Basso and Nibali are in there.”
Do you have to watch for over-racing?
“I tend to race ‘til I’m buggered then have a rest!”
Were Endura or Rapha an option for you?
“I contacted Endura but didn’t hear back from them – the programme they’re riding would be ideal for me.
“You have to race in Europe to get the quality of racing to get the best out of yourself.”
Do the Commonwealth Games figure in your plans?
“Yes, with Andy Fenn on the team I’d like to be involved – to be part of that would be good.”
Will we see much of you in Scotland, this year?
“I’ll be home en route Ireland for the Tour of the North, but it’s expensive to travel, it uses up the funds.
“I did enjoy the crit champs in Paisley and would like to come back for that.
“I’m on the Scottish programme for this year, like I said, Graeme herd is coaching me – but I’m pretty low maintenance!”
With thanks to Marian at Cycling Ulster for the images of Michael at the Tour of the North.