Sunday, December 5, 2021
HomeInterviewsTom England - u16 French Champion in the Madison

Tom England – u16 French Champion in the Madison


For the first time in many a year VeloVeritas didn’t make it down to Grenoble for the Four Days on the battle scarred boards of the winter track where Post, Merckx, Sercu, Clark, Moser and Thevent have all lifted the laurels.

How I miss Bar Clémenceau, Pizza Natalie and the wee bakers where the baker always give me extra croissants ‘for luck.’

Tom England
Ed’s favourite watering hole in Grenoble.

‘New Wave’ French strong men and World Madison Champions Morgan Kneisky and Vivien Brisse took the honours from tough Spaniards Muntaner & Torres with Iljo Keisse limbering up for Gent in third spot with countryman De Buyst.

Grenoble ‘record man’ with six wins in 2001, ‘03, ‘04, ‘06, ‘09 and ’10 Franco Marvulli took fourth spot – but this is his last season and he doesn’t have the same fire inside him that Bruno Risi did which made him want to go out on top.

Tom England
Franco Marvulli has been a fixture of the Six Day scene for years and holds the records for wins in Grenoble.

VeloVeritas still had a spy in the French camp; as well as the professionals in the Elite event there are races for youngsters.

One of the coureurs is actually English; Tom England by name, he raced there last year and in our absence his dad, Rob kept us in the picture about what’s been happening in the ‘Capital of the Alps.’

Tom England
Tom packs a lot of power for a young rider.

What took you and the family to France, Tom?

“We’re from Cornwall, but wanted to try a different lifestyle while the children were young.

“We intended to stay for three or four years but would now find it hard to move back to the UK after 12 years.”

Tom England
Tom in the Champion of France jersey.

Tell us about Tom’s cycling career.

“We went to see the Tour de France and they were holding some kids races.

“Tom was just 12 and rode his mum’s bike – he won it easily in front of a big crowd and was hooked.”

What’s the French track scene like – did Kneisky & Brisse winning the Worlds madison give it a boost?

“We mostly train and race in winter in Switzerland at Aigle and Geneva – then in summer in Lyon and Grenoble on the outdoor tracks.

“We are not part of the cycling scene, and have no cycling background.

“Tom was next to Kneisky and some top guys, including all the Belgians at Aigle but we didn’t talk to them.”

Tell us about how Tom faired in Three Days of Aigle – what was the field like?

“He won at Aigle.

“The category was U17 (he was 15, he’s just turned 16) so included some juniors and also the Swiss U16 champion, and a French U16 national champion.”

Tom England
Tom with the winner’s flowers in Aigle in March.

And Grenoble – what was the format for his racing?

“There is a qualifier in early September for Grenoble with the top 10 selected to race.

“The U16 riders race on three nights; each night they do a 70 lap points and an eight lap scratch – Tom won it overall.”

Has British Cycling shown any interest in him?


[That figures, if BC can’t boast about bringing a rider up through their system then they don’t want to know, EH]

Grenoble – how was the crowd compared to last year?

“Similar – the stade was pretty much full every night; even though there’s almost zero publicity or promotion.”

Tom England
Las Folies are part of the show in Grenoble.

What was the band and cabaret like?

“The same – good fun!”

[It was never the same for me since the days of the curvy chanteuse in the sparkly mini dress – she couldn’t sing but it didn’t really matter. EH]

And was the track centre restaurant as busy as usual?

“Yep, lots of lobsters being consumed!”

Tom England
The famous Grenoble Six buffet.

What’s next for Tom – and does he see himself as a track or road rider?

“He finished first in the French South East Regional road championships.

“He’s small (55kg) and comparatively young so road will suit him best – but he loves track, and produces ridiculously good times for his size.

“Another five or six kilograms of muscle will help a lot as he matures.”

Tom England
Tom is u16 French Madison Champion.

French cycling; they’ve lost Sojasun – but Bouhanni, Coquard, Demare, Pinot are all on the way up, what’s your take on the scene?

“As I say we are simply not part of the track ‘scene’ and have no cycling history. The French system is very dated; it’s mostly dads and their kids, and some enthusiastic amateurs.

“The organisation is a joke, and there is little to no coaching. Selection is last minute on results.

“Tom trains on his own, apart from at Aigle where he trains with the Swiss riders.

“But we live in a beautiful region, traffic friendly, near the Alps, and Tom just loves riding his bike.”

Tom England
Tom training hard in Aigle.

Loving the bike is at the heart of it all; Rob asked if we’d name check Tom’s sponsors:

  • Cannondale
  • Bush Healthcare
  • VC Annemasse
  • Velotechservices UK (Rotor)

One of these days I’ll get myself down to Grenoble in October and sit in the track centre restaurant – drink red wine, watch the racing, eat too much and remember the days when I used to have to seek out the best blue cheese for Franco to have for his breakfast.

One of these days…

With thanks to Tom and Rob.

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

Gent Six Day 2010 – Fourth Night, Big Bob and Danny Take Over

I'm working at the Gent Six Day 2010, and last year's Under 25 winner, big Aussie, Alex Carver just landed on the boards, somewhere close to my right ear.

Lotto Zesdaagse van Hasselt 2007 – Day 5

I've arrived; Matt Gilmore said "hello" to me today here at the Lotto Zesdaagse van Hasselt 2007 - wow! It's the Chocolate Jacques team presentation during the six tonight and Matt is here as part of that gig. "Rambo" is here too - Niko Eeckhout, last June in Antwerp at the Belgian elite champs he was in the break with Boonen; the Tomeke fans had their man as a cert to win.

Copenhagen Six Day 2011 – Day Two, the Famous ‘Par nr. 7’ Tricots

Saturday, 13:20 - the afternoon sesh starts in a few minutes but there's a distinct lack of riders; this reflects in their (and their runners') lack of enthusiasm for afternoon sessions - but more of that tomorrow. Again, it wasn't the greatest of madison racing last night, our guys in their Par nr. 7 tricots, but it's hard for the guys to raise their game if most of the house seats are empty. Michael reckons that ticket sales for Saturday night are good - let's hope so.

Norman Hill – Part One, Six Day Racing in the 60’s and 70’s

With just about everything on ‘hold’ awaiting le Tour kicking off in Yorkshire, we thought we’d slip back through the decades to a different era. One where the ‘big motors’ were still the thing; Six Days packed them in and pave didn’t just come in two kilometer packages. You may not have heard of Englishman, Norman Hill – but he has the T-shirt, video and DVD as a ‘stayer,’ Six Day man and kermis rider on the hard roads of Flanders and The Netherlands.

Zürich Four Days 2011 – Day One

From the chaos emerged a track centre bar and restaurant, cabins for us, work space for the mechanics - and something to race on. I can't say too much about the track - or Pete will slap me, but it obviously can't be as smooth as a permanent one. The stadium restaurant is good; we get one meal each day - last year it was two. Maybe they figure that since it's only four days we don't need fed as much?

Lotto Zesdaagse van Hasselt 2007 – Day 3

Lotto Zesdaagse van Hasselt 2007. It's 18.00, the juniors are up and keeping the red cross busy. At a time when any sensible person is contemplating a movie then a nice pasta and bottle of red at their favourite Italian restaurant in the company of their sweetheart, we're just about to start work.

At Random

Adam Blythe – “BMC is a great team for me to develop on”

Yorkshire rider Adam Blythe first grabbed the big headlines when he won two stages and the GC in the 2010 Circuit Franco-Belge; a UCI 2.1 stage race with a history stretching back to 1924. Blythe became one of the youngest-ever winners in the event, beating Sep Vanmarcke (Topsport Vlaanderen) by six seconds and Jakob Fuglsang (Saxo Bank) by seven.

Big Race: Small Race

Big Race: Small Race. Mid June has been and gone, and I find myself up in the northeast of Italy once again (Arona to be precise), this time at a couple of tiny one day races. We came through the same area for the finale of the Giro, where Ivan Basso turned the screws over the final few days to win the overall.

Neah Evans – “I wouldn’t necessarily say I’ve made huge leaps this year”

It was at the Berlin Six Day a few years ago that we first saw Neah Evans in action on the boards. She’s made a lot of progress since then and the 27 year-old was recently part of the successful GB team pursuit squad at the Manchester World Cup. High times we ‘had a word.’

Magicshine MJ-816 Review – Front Light Set

Here in the UK we've been hammered recently by the weather; for the last few weeks Scotland in particular has resembled an Arctic landscape, with blizzards, white-outs, and motorways frozen closed for days - any bike riding that's been done has been in the garage on the rollers, or spinning down the at the gym. The last few days however, have seen a significant rise in temperature and the resultant thaw has us getting the overshoes looked out again, and the lights back on the bike, ready for recommencing the daily commute, training, and some off-road night riding too.

Giro d’Italia – Day 8: Stage 19, Legnano – Presolana/Monte Pora

Buon giorno di Legnano! Another German stage win and the Gazzetta front page says - "three days of truth waiting to attack Contador" - old Jens doesn't get so much as a mention until the fourth page of Giro reports, deep in the paper - like I said yesterday, the Italians just love the Germans winning their tappas...

Chris Smart – Scottish Olympic and 10 Mile TT Champion for 2016

Yours truly didn’t make it to the Scottish Olympic or Ten Mile Time Trial Championships; unlike our editor, Martin who took excellent pictures at both races and framed reports. ‘I’ll interview both winners,’ said I, to make amends for life getting in the way of cycling. So my thanks extend to Chris Smart (GTR) for winning both events and making life easy for me.