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James McCallum – on His Third Place at Rutland

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We always like to celebrate great rides by great riders, particularly when they’re friends or we feel a connection with them for one reason or another, so when VeloVeritas regular James McCallum (Rapha Condor Sharp) bagged third place in the super-tough UCI Europe Tour-ranked Rutland – Melton International CiCLE Classic yesterday, we knew we had to find out what happened.

We interrupted James’ bike cleaning session today to get the low-down on his great result…

James McCallum
James (L) on the podium, with Blain and Sparling. Image©Larry Hickmott/VeloUK.net

Your old teammates in Endura piled on a ferocious pace right from the start?

“Yeah, I knew that would be the case so I stuck near to them…

Did you make the initial split of over 20 riders?

“Yes, I went across with Zak Dempster.”

“I think the ended up with four Endura guys in the first split.”

You’d go into a race like this expecting there to be lots of crashes and mechanicals – was it like that?

“It was pretty chaotic once you hit the unpaved sectors, but you have to be ready for anything and be proactive all the time.

“I spent the race just telling myself ‘go forward, race from the front’.”

The road surfaces and weather wasn’t exactly great – only 22 finishers and 132 non-finishers!

“It was kinda hit and miss.

“The Somerberg was actually better than last year when it was dry, and other sections were worse.

“Just shows that the weather plays such a key role in races like this.”

You were doing the ‘Merckx thing’ and riding without gloves?

“Ha ha, yeah, I’m weird as I actually like the cold and wet conditions – I felt like I was riding a ‘cross race!

“But in all honestly once I took them off I felt like a racer – they were also making my hands colder due to them holding about a litre of water each!”

James McCallum
James, on the left of the shot, pushes the pace on the unpaved section. Image©Larry Hickmott/VeloUK.net

You were the one to attack out of the chasers to go after Blain?

“Well yes, I had attacked before the climb.

“I looked back and he was sprinting flat out so I tried to match him and was holding him.

“I had a look down at my computer which said 40km to go so I thought ‘let him hang in the wind and the group should be able to hold him’.

“However, we got over the climb and it was only myself, Pete Williams and eventually Jamie Sparling that were doing any pulling.

“Then the commisaire moto came up and shouted that the course had been shortened due to flooding of the final sector and it was now only 20km to go…

“I then knew that I had to go, but ran outta road (and luck, with the late puncture)…C’ést la vie.”

Blain’s a quality rider, isn’t he?

“Alex is class. “You don’t ride for Cofidis if your a numpty. “I think Endura have also given him a new lease of life and I’m happy for him.”

Then you punctured just a few k’s from the finish…

“Hmm, yeah, that was my second puncture of the day – and at the worst moment.

“To rub salt in to the wound it happened on the smoothest bit of road on the course!”

Do you reckon you were good for second place if it hadn’t been for that?

“Yes, I was pretty confident of that.

“I had had a quick wheel change, but I still lost around thirty seconds by the time I got going again.

“I chased back to within four bike-lengths in the end, but it wasn’t quite enough.”

James McCallum
James leads the break on the Somerberg. Image©Larry Hickmott/VeloUK.net

We’ve spoken to you recently and you were saying you had a great winter – do you think you’re starting to reap the benefits now?

“Definitely, I just hope this is the hard work starting to pay off.”

How was Normandy?   Looked pretty tough…

“Pretty brutal to be honest!

“It was my first real race of the year, with 1000km at an average speed of 45kph… go figure.”

The Tour Series kicks off in Scotland in a fortnight, you excited about that?

“Aw man, I canny wait!

“It’s been a long time coming to Scotland so should be a great night.”

Is the Tour Series a major target for the team?

“For sure.

“It’s probably one of my main goals this year, I’d love to win a round.”

It’s pretty full-on, with 11 events in the space eight weeks – you won’t have much time to train, with travelling and racing and recovering…

“Nah,  it’s pretty much race and rest really.

“You need to do all the hard work before the Series so you’re ready and it’s ‘in the bank’.

“Then you just have to be careful how you ‘spend your pennies’.”

How are the youngsters in the team shaping up?

“They’re doing really well – in particular the two Aussies and Rich Handley, they have stepped up right away and I’m pretty sure that the others will raise a few eyebrows before the end of the season.

“They listen and want to learn, which is a massive bonus.

“It’s also great to work with such a talented group.”

What’s the plan for the next couple of weeks and beyond?

“I’ve got a few races up here on my build-up to the Tour Series, then it’s the usual National series crits, Smithfield and so on.

“I’ve actually not thought any further ahead than that though, bu I do know I’ll be hitting the track and ‘cross hard over the winter!”

With special thanks to Larry Hickmott at VeloUK.net for the use of the his images.

James McCallum
Heeere’s Jimmy! Image©Larry Hickmott/VeloUK.net

Result - Rutland - Melton International CiCLE Classic 2012