The last time we spoke to NetApp-Endura’s Scott Thwaites was in the spring of 2013, just after he’d finished in fifth place in the Handzame Classic and seventh spot in le Samyn – both hard races in brutal conditions.
For 2014 he’s already back in the groove again with a podium place on stage one of the Three Days of West Flanders, and he commented on his first podium finish of the season:
“I’m really happy with my 3rd place.
“I was disappointed with my prologue yesterday and was unsure of my form but today I felt really strong and with the help of the team I was able to position well and take third in the chaotic sprint.”
And on stage three he took eighth in another hectic finale.
The 24 year-old but has crammed a lot in – cyclocross, triathlon, MTB, a British Criterium
Championship, a Premier Calendar overall win and Belgian semi-classic arrival.
His first mention in despatches was for third in the British debutants’ cyclo-cross championship in 2005; he was second in the same event in 2006 and second again at junior level in 2007.
Triathlons and mountain biking were next with a win in the British U23 MTB Championships coming along the way.
He turned pro with Endura in 2010 on the strength of that title and exploded onto the British scene with a win in the hotly contested and highly sought after Lincoln GP in 2011.
The rapid progress continued in 2012 with a dazzling UK season; the high lights of which were the British Criterium Championship and the overall win in the Premier Calendar.
In 2013, in addition to his strong rides in Handzame and le Samyn, there were top ten finishes in stages of the Circuit de la Sarthe, Qinghai Lakes and Tour of Britain; similar finishes in the Philadelphia Cycling Classic and British Elite Road Race Championship as well as strong rides in the Brabantse Pijl and World Ports Classic.
VeloVeritas caught up with Scott shortly before his 2014 campaign kicked off with a strong third place in the Three Days of West Flanders which he backed up a week later with his superb second place in the Ronde van Drenthe to Kenny Dehaes (Lotto – Belisol).
Some nice results, Scott – Brabantse Pijl isn’t for the faint hearted.
“I was in good shape for last spring; the parcours suited me and it was ideal because we had Paul Voss in the break – so I could ride in support of him.
“Sagan won it from Gilbert, Leukemans and Chavanel with Paul finishing ninth.”
And a strong ride too in the World Ports race; I’ve heard that it’s savagely fast?
“It’s almost a Belgian Classic; a very difficult race – those were two tough days but I felt OK and had good legs.”
Top ten in Philly, that’s even tougher now with the finish at the top of the Manayunk Wall.
“I really enjoyed that race, the circuit is great – we only had a small team of five but it was an important race for our bike sponsor, Fuji who is based in Philadelphia.
“There were big, enthusiastic crowds but I got a bit of cramp with the heat – I didn’t have big expectations going in to the race so it was nice to get a decent result.
“That hill top finish really sorts thing out.”
And you were close to a win in Qinghai…
“Yeah, that was disappointing; Benjamin Giraud of La Pomme, Marseille beat me for a stage by just six centimetres.
“It’s a difficult race with the altitude and the food isn’t the best – you have to be careful.
“The weather is so variable there, over the two weeks it goes from 30 degrees and baking sun down to three degrees and rain.”
Top ten in Glasgow in the Nationals?
“It was a good circuit, interesting, tough but I was disappointed to miss the split.
“That front group was very strong and there wasn’t enough fire power behind.”
Your programme was pretty cosmo – San Luis, the US, China – and the Arctic.
“Yes, and I was in Turkey, too; all new places to me so very exciting.
“The Arctic race was mainly flat for the sprinters and the parcours was really beautiful.”
Which performance gave you most satisfaction?
“I was trying hard all season for my first win so was disappointed not to get it – but I was happy with how I rode in Brabantse, I think it was a good ride on a tough course against a very high level of opposition.”
And your toughest race days?
“Qinghai; it’s not just the fact that it’s a good race with strong opposition – there’s the travel to get there, the altitude, the food and it’s the longest race I’ve ever ridden.”
Was the end of 2013 frantic as guys tried to get results to get a ride for 2014?
“I think so, it was a hard time for riders coming out of contract and who were chasing a ride with a team – so you had guys giving it everything.”
How did your system cope with 70 race days?
“It was a big step up, not just in terms of number of race days but in the quality of the races and the distances.
“But I’d built a big endurance base over the winter to prepare myself and I felt good right up until the Nationals – then I took a week off.
“Overall the season went well and it gave me confidence for this year.”
Did you take much of a break at the end of the season?
“I had four weeks off then got back into it – I did some hard efforts in December and then began to sharpen up at our training camp in January.”
Have you changed your training now that the level of competition is higher?
“I had a new coach for 2013 and he placed more emphasis on specific efforts designed so that I can cope with 200 K and still have legs at the end.”
At camp do you ‘just ride and get the miles in’ or is it more structured?
“No, it was very specific with every ride having intervals in there at some stage.
“My group was focussing on sprints – but other groups were working on climbing, for example.”
How does the programme look?
“Early season it’s mainly Belgium – but it depends on the invites we receive…”
Goals for 2014?
“I’ve still to get that first win, it eluded me – and I want to race even bigger races.”
Lessons from 2013?
“To look after myself – it’s a long, hard season.
“I’ve worked hard at staying healthy and I want to stay that way!”