Monday, December 6, 2021
HomeInterviewsGeorge Atkins - National Criterium Series 2013 Winner

George Atkins – National Criterium Series 2013 Winner


George Atkins
George Atkins. PhotoRoadCyclingUK

As well as Raleigh’s Evan Oliphant’s recent overall win in the Premier Calendar another national competition was claimed by a rider who has close links to Scotland – 100% ME’s George Atkins regards Edinburgh as his second home and spent time in the capital after he left the BC ‘Plan’ a year or two ago.

A former Commonwealth Games silver medallist on the track and now back with the BC programme he displayed great consistency to win the six race National Criterium Series just as Oliphant was sealing the Premier Calendar.

We caught up with the Sheffield man as he racked up the miles to get his road legs back after all those one hour town centre efforts.

Congratulations, George – was the series a big goal for the team?

“Not a huge one, we ride under an anti-doping message and the crits don’t really fit in with the programme so there was no sponsor pressure.

“I did the crit series because I wasn’t riding the road or track at the European Championships – my girlfriend and parents were my support team for the series.”

Is 100% ME the latest incarnation of ‘The Plan?’

“Yes, it’s basically ‘The BC Academy.’”

The first race was at Otley where Felix English won?

“That’s probably my favourite course; it suits the roadmen and I was able to get in the move and finish fourth – I didn’t quite have the zip at the end but it wasn’t a bad start.”

And then you won at Stockton?

“Yeah, that was a bit of a surprise!

“But because I’d finished fourth at Otley I was on the front row of the grid for this one and that makes a difference, you don’t have to fight your way up.

“I was suffering for the first 25 minutes then I got away and just slipped into time trial mode – it’s a lot smoother riding on your own than it is constantly fighting for position.”

George Atkins
George in action at Stockton. Photo©

And there are sprint points – so if you’re away you pick those up?

“Yeah, but I didn’t realise that ‘til the fourth round!

“I started to pick them up again in the fifth round but had missed out in Wales and at Stockton because I didn’t know they were on offer.

“It’s not a great deal of intermediate points but they do all add up.”

Abergavenny was the third round and Mike Northey won?

“That was where I began to think that I might have a chance of the series, I finished seventh having begun to ride a bit more defensively.

“It was a bit of a negative race and I had ridden the first 100 K of the Abergavenny Grand Prix in the days before and didn’t have the best legs.”

Then Colne where Ed Clancy won?

“I was seventh again in that one which wasn’t too bad but it was a quick race and I didn’t have any team backing to help me – that makes things even more difficult.”

George Atkins
George switched to Raleigh from 100% Me. Photo©Jean Bollaerts

Beverley was round five and Jon Mould won.

“Graham Briggs was my closest rival and Felix English too – but a group got away and I managed second in the bunch sprint for fifth.”

Sheffield was the finale with Dean Downing getting the verdict – but you didn’t have it sewn up …

“It was all set up for me to lose with English, Northey and Clancy all attacking me and their team mates letting gaps open.

“But the Downings were riding to win – Deano took it at the end – and that helped my cause plus I managed to pick up intermediate points as well as finishing ninth to take the series overall.

“It was a pretty stressful night because that race has a scary finish to it.”

Who was the rival who you were most worried about?

“Graham Briggs, he was the most consistent – Clancy and English were good but blew hot and cold with both of them failing to finish two rounds.”

How do the crits fit in with your training for the road and track?

“The track is over for me – at the Commonwealth Games the team pursuit guys will be riding the bunch races.

“Crits fit in with track preparation but aren’t great for the road – during the series I was really just riding them and going for easy rides.

“This last week I’ve been getting back into the groove of long road rides – I hope I can gain selection for the Tour of Britain or Tour de l’Avenir.

“At home things are pretty much wrapped up with the two crit series over and the Premier Calendar finished for the year.”

How has BC been for you this time around?

“Keith Lambert who manages the team has been faultless and it’s a good group of lads.

“But it’s disappointing for me that my main passion – which is the track – is finished for me.

“I may do the track Nationals but as far as the international side goes I haven’t got qualifying points for World Cups so can’t ride at that level.

“If you’re not with BC then the track is a closed road at international level.”

So it’s a life on the road?

“I’d like to ride the Tour of Britain again, I rode last year and got a bit of a kicking, but I’ve moved on since then and would like to show myself in the breaks.

“Despite the fact that it was hard, I enjoyed the race – but 100% ME is a big squad and it’ll be hard to gain selection.

“If I do ride the track Nationals I’ll take time off after them and then start a proper winter of road build up for next season.

“The last two seasons I’ve ridden the track during the winter so it’ll be good to start a road season properly prepared.”

And will you still be 100% ME for 2014?

“No, I’ll be too old so I’m looking for a UK team for next season.

“I think I’d rather be based in the UK with a team which has a good programme and rides races abroad.

“I think that’s what would suit me best.”

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

Chris Fennell – British 25 Mile Time Trial Champion 2019

23 year-old student Chris Fennell [Team Independent Pedaler] is the new British 25 Mile Time Trial champion, beating Phil Williams [Liverpool Phoenix CC] by 26 seconds with regular on Scottish roads, Adam Wild [GS Metro] third with 46:57. In true VeloVeritas tradition we ‘had a word.’

George Atkins – Time Trials, Belgium and Cooking!

George Atkins was a name that suddenly appeared on the Scottish scene back in the summer. And on Sunday the versatile man from Leicester took silver in the British U23 Time Trial Championships, but before his foray into the world of riding 'alone and unpaced', he spent six weeks in Flanders, so naturally we needed to have a word with him, not long before the British Champs.

Cavendish Takes the British Road Championships 2013 Title

Many of you will have been there and will have your own race report inside your head but just to remind you: “Stannard and Fenn go clear on lap one; Millar, Kennaugh, Swift and Cavendish chase and eventually bridge up; those six are the race; Swift and Fenn run out of gas and slide off; Kennaugh gets dropped on the last lap; Cav leaves Stannard and Millar in his jet wash over the last 350 metres in Glasgow Green to be crowned British Champion.” Here’s the VeloVeritas take on our Sunday in the City by the Clyde, or as it goes in The Gaelic, 'The Dear Green Place.'

Dan Fleeman – New British Hill Climb Champion

Cervelo's Dan Fleeman left it late to take his first win of the year; but it took him just 3 minutes 18 seconds to convert late season road form to victory in the most specialist and punishing of races-the British Hill Climb Championship, on the 1100 metre Pea Royd Lane climb near Sheffield, England on Sunday.

Matthias Barnet – British Under 16 Criterium Champion 2014

Le Tour, The Commonwealth Games, The Tam Gordon interview – there’s just been so much going on at VeloVeritas recently that we must have missed something? Ah yes, of course, Edinburgh Road Club’s Matthias Barnet winning the British Under 16 Criterium Championship on the technical Hog Hill circuit at Redbridge, London in July, for one thing.

Joe Skipper – 27mph Average to Win the 12 Hour Championship!

Professional triathlete Joe Skipper, making up for the disappointment of ‘turning short’ and being technically "DNF" in last year’s CTT 12 hour championship has recorded the first 27 mph 12 hour time trial - 325.5 miles in the CC Breckland event in Norfolk. Here’s what Joe had to say just two days after his historic ride.

At Random

Sergio Henao to lead Team Sky’s Colombian debut

Sergio Henao will head Team Sky’s charge in his homeland at the inaugural Colombia Oro y Paz (6-11 February). The Colombian heads a lineup including fellow countrymen Sebastian Henao and Egan Bernal for the new six-day stage race, which will see Team Sky race in Colombia for the first time ever. Debutant Jonathan Castroviejo, Tao Geoghegan Hart and David Lopez complete the six-man squad.

The VV View: Bugging Us This Week – Wiggins’ Dogma and Playlists!

I’ve read Edgar Allan Poe, I’ve seen The Exorcist, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Rosemary’s Baby; I’ve even been to a Folk Festival - so I thought I’d witnessed what true horror was. I was wrong. The Bradley Wiggins Limited Edition Pinarello Dogma F8 is beyond my worst nightmares.

Hugh McGuire

Hugh McGuire, who has died suddenly of a heart attack aged 71, was the Glasgow-born Scot who became one of the top UK cyclists in the 1960s, representing both Scotland and the British Army. He took part with the best of GB riders in the Tour of Britain / Milk Race era, winning stages - and in so doing following the wheels of a slightly older top gun, Jimmy Savile. McGuire became noticed, and in 1962 and 1963, was selected to travel behind the Iron Curtain to participate in the annual Berlin-Warsaw-Prague road race, the co-called Peace Race designed by the Soviets to bring together the world's top cyclists in reconciliation between Warsaw Pact countries and the West.

Lucho Herrera’s Pinarello

To appreciate how big a deal it was for Luis Alberto (Lucho) Herrera to win the 1987 Vuelta, it's best to read the passage in Lucy Fallon and Adrian Bell's book, 'Viva la Vuelta' where they talk about the closing stage into Madrid.

Rick Zabel – All Set For the Classics With BMC

The German Junior Madison Championships came Rick Zabel’s way in 2009 with more track podiums at national junior level in 2010 in the points, team pursuit and Madison. There were a raft of strong junior road results in 2011 with a fifth place in the Junior Worlds as a high point. His first year as a U23 in 2012 saw him lift the national U23 road race title for Rabobank Continental for whom he also won the U23 Ronde van Vlaanderen in 2013. Last year saw him step up to the World Tour with BMC Racing Team and land a share of a win in the Tour of Trentino TTT.

Kuurne Brussels Kuurne Bikes

It was Sean Connery's character in the film "The Untouchables" who suggested you don't bring a knife to a gun fight and it was clear that the weapons of choice at the opening classics weekend in Belgium would contribute to the outcome and individual's performance. Having wandered around the teams at both the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne it became clear there was a lot of nice kit being readied to race.