It wasn’t ‘til after the ‘25’ Champs that we managed to catch up with Steven Lawley (Neon Velo) – he’s a busy man, netting another two wins since his fine victory in the Scottish National Road Race Championship where he pushed multiple ex-champion, Evan Oliphant (Raleigh) off the top step of the podium.
And in the meantime his team mate, Peter Murdoch scooped the aforementioned ‘25’ title at Irvine.
We first came across Lawley as a member of John Anderson’s Bicycle Works team, coming second to Grant Ferguson at the National Hill Climb Championship a year or two ago down at Stow.
We might have guessed that ex-pro and now coach James McCallum had a hand in Lawley’s transformation to top roadman on the Scottish scene.
Here’s what Mr. Lawley had to say to VeloVeritas the other night as he, ‘oo-ed and ah-ed’ on the massage table at the other end of the phone line.
Congratulations, Steven; basics first – age, where are you from and what do you do for a living?
“I’m 31 years-old come from Hamilton and I work as a forester but I decided to go full time on the bike for a few months to see how far I could go – and it’s certainly working out for me.”
What was the team game plan for the Scottish Road Champs?
“To get me out front on my own with 10 K to go and that’s exactly how it played out.
“The break went and I got across to it but we were brought back with about 15 K to go – I was watching to see who was coming up and could see everyone was tired.
“I didn’t want to give the rest a chance to recover; I asked Peter Murdoch what he thought and he said; ‘go for it !’
“Peter controlled the rest after I went away and that took a lot of energy; ideally we’d have liked first and second but Peter ended up sixth.”
This isn’t your first Scottish title, Steven?
“No, I won the hill climb and criterium champs in 2014 – so I’m currently reigning road race and criterium champion.”
But you came late to the sport?
“Yeah, I was originally a runner – that background is what gives me a big engine – I got into the bike when I was 28/29.”
And you rode the Rás, earlier this year?
“James McCallum, our DS, has been getting us into races at that level – he told us that we shouldn’t worry about a result; it was the experience that mattered.
“That said, I had a few cracks and got a seventh place on a stage and 21st overall, I felt better and better as the race went on.
“On stage six I was in the break with the ex-Sky guy, Edmondson and the Austrian who won overall – that was a nippy experience !”
“James McCallum is the man behind getting me on-board the team; I was with Herbal Life in 2013 and then in 2014 I was KTM but neither of those rides really worked out for me.
“Dan Stevens is the man behind Neon Velo – he has a vision for where he’d like to go…”
We don’t see you in a lot of time trials?
“It’s not something I’ve done a lot but I’d like to – I have a goal of doing a good ride in the Trossachs, one of these days.
“The calendar format doesn’t help – the ‘25’ Champs is on the same day as the Anderside Classic, for instance.”
[Steven won the Anderside Classic and the Squirrel Criterium in Dunfermline mid-week between the National and Anderside, ed.]
Tell us about your training.
“I mostly train on my own; I was doing three hour stints in the turbo all through the winter – savage but I think I’m reaping the benefits, now.
“The way things are at the moment I don’t actually train that much – it’s about racing and recovery.
“I have a friend, John Dargie who’s really clued up on all aspects of training and whilst he’s not my coach he’s always there to advise me – usually to stop me doing too much !
“And of course, James McCallum is always there to advise us; he’ll ask what I’m up to – and he keeps me in check, too.
“I’m really enjoying the new team, working with James and Graeme Herd, who’s our mechanic.”
Who’s your role model as a rider?
“That would have to be Jason Macintyre – I wish he was still around – he was ‘the man’ as far as I’m concerned.
“You hear those tales of him burning out turbo trainers – awesome !
“That’s why I’d like to win The Trossachs at some stage; it would a real achievement to break his course record.”
What’s still on the agenda for 2014?
“I’d really like to get at least a podium finish in a Premier Calendar race; next year the plan is to grow the team and we hope to ride more UCI stage races – events like the Rás.
“In the short term I have the ‘Battle of the Braes’ road race on Saturday and then I defend my criterium title at Stirling on Sunday afternoon.”
Crit Champs ? – it looks as if by the time you read this there may well be another Scottish medal in the drawer for Mr. Lawley.
He’s well on the VeloVeritas ‘watch list’ now – we’ll keep you posted.