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Callum Skinner – European Kilo Champion 2014; “Now the Rio Sprint Team is the Target”

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It’s not just Katie Archibald who was winning European track titles for Bonnie Scotland on that big old concrete track in Guadeloupe – sprinter Callum Skinner rode a 1:02 to become European Kilometre Champion and book himself a Worlds spot in the event made famous by the likes of Harris, Sercu and Hoy.

Hot on the heels of his title he teamed up with Olympic Champions Jason Kenny and Philip Hindes to take victory in the team sprint at the Guadalajara round of the World Cup.

And all of that on the back of a clean sweep of British sprint titles – individual sprint, team sprint, keirin and kilometre.

It’s high times VeloVeritas ‘had a word’ with this gentleman…

Callum Skinner
Callum in his City of Edinburgh RC days. Photo©CallumSkinner

Thank you for speaking to us Callum and congratulations on a series of cracking rides – the inevitable, ‘how did you get into cycling ?’ question to start.

“When I moved to Edinburgh I decided to go down to the local track and loved it.

“The kids club at the time run by Allister Watson was really helpful.”

The team sprint in the Guadalajara World Cup; Germany qualified quickest but you beat them in the final – tell us about the two races, please.

“I had a lot to learn from our first ride and I hope I managed to tidy it up a little in the final.

“Also, the Germans were unlucky with a false start due to a crash by Forstemann plus the changed their line up leaving out Botticher so maybe that helped us too?”

France off the pace – surprising?

“Yes a little, but they are so strong when they are going well.”

Callum Skinner
Callum congratulates World Champ Fran Pervis during a Revolution meeting. Photo©CyclingWeekly

European kilometre champion, 1:02 on a heavy track in the heat – you must be happy with that?

“Very – and surprised.

“I didn’t expect that result.

“The conditions didn’t really bother me – I’ve had worse at Meadowbank in the cold and dark.”

How did you cope with all that travel – Guadeloupe then Mexico?

“The first leg was fine but post Mexico I came down with a bit of a cough and cold, I’m on the mend now.”

A clean sweep at the Nationals; did you do specific training for the kilo – how does that fit in with the ‘pure’ sprint training?

“My training was not that different from last year except I spent a lot more time on my tri bars versus the drops.”

Back on top in the sprint champs, you won in 2012 but no medal in 2013…

“2013 was not the best year for me I had a disappointing; Euros and British.

“I’ve tried a more relaxed approach since then and it’s been more effective, I try not to stress when I’m not going well as it makes things worse.”

Was your third place in the 2011 European U23 Sprint Champs the ‘break through’ ride?

“I wouldn’t say so, 2011 and ’12 were good years but ’13 and the start of ’14 were poor.”

The Commonwealth Games, 10.198 in the qualifying – quick but not quick enough…

“All the home nations were off the Oceanic pace.

“We have a lot of work to do but my focus is with the team sprint and the kilo at the moment.”

Callum Skinner
Callum in action at the Commonwealth Games. Photo©Martin Williamson

Would you have liked to have ridden the kilometre at The Games?

“With hindsight yes but maybe combined with the kind of preparation I had before Nationals ?”

What are your ‘personals’ – 200 metres, 1,000 metres and last lap in the team sprint?

“At sea level; 10.003, 1.01.8 – and I’ll get back to you…”

Are you settled as the ‘anchor man’ for the team sprint?

“Definitely not – with the strength of the squad you need to earn every place at major competitions.”

How big a part does the gym play in your training?

“It’s a staple at least twice a week.”

What’s a typical day like on the Manchester GB regime?

“Either very restful or very hard.

“There’s a good atmosphere between the guys so the day goes by with some good laughs too.”

Callum Skinner
In action for Scotland. Photo©CyclingWeekly

What changes has the arrival of former New Zealand and France coach, Justin Grace made?

“He’s made a refreshing change to the team.

“Not too many changes yet as he sees how we do things, with a view to make some changes soon.

“If we can combine the best of the systems he has worked with and ours then that should be a winning combo.”

Which events will you be targeting at the Track Worlds?

“I have an automatic kilo place as result of winning the Euros so I’m looking forward to that.

“I’d love to be in the team sprint line up but my favourite event is still the individual sprint – however, that’s a bit of a side project for now.”

What are your goals for 2015 – and how much of a part does Rio play in your thinking?

“It’s a big driver.

“The only way to get to Rio is as part of the team sprint; the individual events will be selected based on that team.

“So it’s given me motivation to target the team sprint and hopefully I can sprint off the back of that!”

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.

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