Tuesday, July 27, 2021
HomeInterviewsCallum Skinner - Olympic Champion!

Callum Skinner – Olympic Champion!

-

Katie ArchibaldWe’ve interviewed him as a World Cup winner, British and European Champion – and now we’re very pleased to be able to interview him as Olympic Team Sprint Champion – not to mention Individual Sprint silver medallist.

Mr. Callum Skinner …

Congratulations sir! That 42.562 – a perfect start to the team sprint campaign, Callum – did you expect qualifying to go so well for the team sprint?

“Philip did, I didn’t expect to go so well.

“Our first ride was a bit of a stab in the dark.

“We had gone well in Newport however there are so many variables that influence our time.

“On competition day it’s better to see how you measure up against your rivals opposed to targeting a time.”

That start you made must have been a huge boost for the whole cycling team?

“Our first ride going so well was so important. Personally, I got on, plus I knew I had more in the tank.

“We genuinely believed we could win it from that point on.”

Callum Skinner
Callum Skinner. Photo©Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

How long were you in Rio before the Games – you obviously acclimatized well?

“Just over a week, we had three training sessions.

“They didn’t go particularly well; maybe it was fourth time lucky.”

What was the track like – new tracks can be a bit ‘sticky’ because the resin in the timber hasn’t dried out.

“I’ve not encountered that before. The track was very dusty.

“I think the nations who arrived earlier had more of an issue with that.

“The more people who ride a new track the less dusty it becomes.”

Callum Skinner
Callum has lots to celebrate from Rio. Photo©Getty Images

The ‘round one’ ride against Venezuela – you have to be fully ‘on’ to get the time, don’t you?

“Yes you always have to be fully on; otherwise your time will be substandard as your energy expenditure is so high with a large gap. For our ride against Venezuela we played it safe.

“All we had to do was win the heat and post at least the second fastest time overall to proceed to the gold silver ride.

“We knew we had the legs to do it and with disqualifications common in team sprint a conservative ride was what was required.”

The final, 42.440 – is that fastest you’ve ever ridden; I heard you were going quick in training?

“I believe it’s the fastest we’ve ever gone as a trio. If it’s in training it doesn’t really count to my mind.

“It wasn’t just winning that made our rides so special to us. It was the manor by which we achieved it.

“In the first round we set the Olympic Record, in the second round the Kiwis beat our record.

“In the final we got it back again and that time will stand until at least the next Olympics.”

As anchor man in the team sprint are you aware at all of what’s happening across the track?

“No not ever.

“When I was a junior I received a very memorable telling off from Jan [Van Eijden] one of our sprint coaches.

“We were at the Junior Europeans and in our team sprint ride I was man three and they could see in the video I looked over to the other side of the track during my ride. I understand now why they were so annoyed – it makes no difference where the other team is, I needed to give it 100% regardless.

“Also turning your head can sacrifice your technique and aero drag.

“So ever since then I haven’t dared look to the other side of the track.”

The new bikes, how do they compare to the UKSI machines?

“The stem flows nicely to the top tube; this makes the bike more aero but also the top tube a lot higher.

“This takes some getting used to as early on it can catch your knees.

“Otherwise they ride more or less the same.

“The biggest difference with this bike was an aero benefit whilst maintaining the stiffness of the UKSI machines.”

Callum Skinner
Callum’s not allowed to talk about the gears he used but if you zoom in you can maybe count the teeth… Photo©Getty Images

Are the new skinsuits as slippery as we hear?

“Possibly, we really are kept in the dark with how much of a difference certain bits of kit make. There’s also the trouble of what do you compare it to, there are so many skinsuits out there.

“We know our standard ‘World Cup’ and ‘World Champs’ skinsuits are significantly slower. I noticed a lot of commonalities with our skinsuits compared to the other nations, the stitching on the arms for example.

“Other nations even made gains we failed to achieve, for example with pin-less numbers. Our skinsuits are a pain to get into especially when you are sweaty also the neck is very tight.

“However we believe it’s worth it. Unfortunately we don’t get to keep them, they are back in Tony’s Room-X as it’s now called.”

Can we ask about gears in the team sprint or is that on the secret list?

“It’s a secret; Phil has admitted he has geared up since the Worlds.

“I was between 100” and 106” as were most of my other competitors.”

Did the time hang heavy between the team and individual sprints?

“Not really, we finished the Team Sprint quite late.

“Partially our own fault as we volunteered to do a dope test in order to ratify our Olympic Record.

“So it was a late evening with an early start.”

Did you expect to go quite so quick in qualifying for the individual sprint – was that 9.703 a personal best?

“I expected to go a little quicker in hindsight.

“I think there was a high 9.6 in there. I had the legs but my technique wasn’t great.

“Yes it was a personal best on my time from worlds.”

Are sprint qualifying and match race gears open for discussion?

“I think qualification was around 124” – I raced through the day on various gears from 104” to 112”.”

Were you surprised by how ‘ordinary’ the French seemed – Bauge was a shadow of himself.

“I’m sure there have been plenty competitions in the past where we have looked ordinary at World Cups and Worlds. It’s just the ebb and flow of competition form.

“We do as much as we can to peak for the Olympics, we don’t apply that high level of attention to detail to any other competitions. We always hold something back in reserve.

“It’s all about the long term picture and the four year cycle.”

Callum Skinner
Callum and Jason room together and are good friends, but raced to win. Photo©Getty Images

Tell us your feelings about your keirin campaign.

“Mixed.

“I feel I really found some good form on the day of the Quarters and Semis in the sprint.

“On the day of the final against Jason I lost that momentum.

“On the Keirin day my legs felt even worse.

“Team Sprint had been our primary focus. I gave it absolutely everything I had on Team Sprint night. Anything else from there on was a bonus.

“I’m disappointed with my tactics and my form in the Keirin but that’s something to work on for next time. It’s tricky as the opportunities to ride Keirin at an international level are rare. There is only one spot at World Cups and Worlds as GB doesn’t have a trade team. In the Olympics we have two spots.

“For the next cycle I’d like to see us have a trade team in World Cups for the benefit of the rider who is second in line for that selection.”

Is the post-competition party able to be enquired about?

“Yes, anyone who follows me on Snapchat probably would have had a little window into those parties. I’m writing this on day six of a continuous night out schedule.

“I’ll be glad to get some sleep on this flight.

“Most days follow the same procedure; drinks at the local hotel or a corporate house (Omega, Oakley, GB) from 9pm until 1am. Then head to either another corporate house with more of a club atmosphere (Dutch, French, sometimes British and the best being Red Bull!) or if that’s not working out, a local Brazilian Club, all are open until about 5-6am.

“Then we walk/stumble back to the food hall have some breakfast then sleep.

“Then repeat until closing ceremony!

“Some of the parties have been incredible. I’ll just leave you with the bare bones for now.”

What now – holidays?

“I’ve got a week in around the UK with sponsorship and media commitments.

“Then I’m off on holiday for two weeks – I’m road tripping around the continent with my girlfriend.”

We’re not sure if that trip is to recover from the racing or the partying – but an Olympic gold and silver is certainly worth celebrating.

With congratulations and thanks again to Callum.

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

Craig Hardie

It was with great sadness that we learnt this week about the passing of Craig Hardie, a living legend in Scottish cycling and beyond as a successful rider, true character, and popular bike shop owner, but so much more than that too. Originally from Dalgety Bay in Fife, Craig was a long-time member and stalwart of the Dunfermline Cycling Club and enjoyed a stellar cycling career.

“The Flying Scotsman” by Graeme Obree-Putting the Record Straight

Let me first say this is firstly a review of the Graeme Obree autobiography, the book - not the film - "The Flying Scotsman", and also my version of the events at the world cycling championships in Sicily in 1994. I was the Great Britain team mechanic for those championships, but Mr. Obree didn't remember to mention this fact in his book. You could call this the bitter out-pouring of a man scorned, but rather it's just my memory of what happened.

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.’

John Archibald – on breaking the Scottish 10 Mile Time Trial record

It’s hard to believe that since I started cycling in 1971 nearly four minutes have been hacked off the Scottish 10 mile time trial record; when I started it stood at 22 minutes and 14 seconds: 1971  P.Templeton  (Dundee Thistle R.C.)  22 mins 14 secs. It now stands at 18 minutes and 38 seconds thanks to that man John Archibald (Pro Vision) - a time he achieved this morning on the fast dual carriageway tarmac beside the River Clyde at Westferry.

John McMillan – Scottish Star of the 60’s and 70’s

When I started cycling back in 1971 I quickly learned that there were five men I should stand in awe of; Belgians, Eddy Merckx - no explanation necessary - and Patrick Sercu, world sprint champion, Olympic kilometre champion and Grand Tour stage winner; Danish super stylist, world hour record holder Ole Ritter; British 25 mile record holder, Alf Engers and long term Scottish 25 mile record holder, John McMillan. Over the years I’ve managed to get my picture taken with Eddy and Ole, interviewed Alf and have even had the odd chat with Patrick.

Martin Coll – Part 2: “Graeme Obree was special, introverted – a genius…”

In part one of our interview with Martin Coll we discussed his career – but any chat with Martin wouldn’t be complete without mention of the times he spent with his brother-in-law; the legend that is Graeme Obree. Martin became The Flying Scotsman’s manager, confidante, driver and personal assistant during the period when Graeme and ‘Old Faithful’ were much in demand on the continental boards.

At Random

Wayne Bennington – Looking back at his Pro Teams; System-U and ‘Z’

With all the recent exposure Philippa York has had we recently came upon a mention of a man who trained and raced with York in his days as Robert Millar. Wayne Bennington is the man; he rode for Systeme-U and ‘Z’ – both big players in the day who didn’t dispense contracts to just ‘any’ rider. We spoke to Wayne a year or two ago but this piece has never before run on Velo Veritas, here’s his story.

Introducing Two of my Astellas Teammates

Two of my Astellas teammates are Ryan Aitcheson, 25, from Kitchener, Ontario (Canada) and Olly Moors, 19, from West Sussex (England). Ryan is one of the best criterium racers in North America. He is also my longest standing teammate. Olly has only been on club teams up until this point. He’s now a professional and he and I are teammates; Ryan and I passed Olly on the way home from our ride and he told us about a racing memory, because I asked.

The VeloVeritas Years – 2006: Jason MacIntyre, the British 25 Mile TT Champion

2006 in Bonnie Scotland we had a lot to cheer about as the late, great Jason Macintyre had a fantastic season, winning the British Circuit TT Championship and the 'Blue Riband,' the British 25 Mile TTl Championship to join the likes of Alf Engers, Sean Yates, Chris Boardman and Graeme Obree on the roll of honour.

The ‘Tour Series’ Edinburgh Criterium, 2016 Goes to Graham Briggs

The thing with riders like JLT Condor's Graham Briggs is that they are very good at what they do, training specifically for these one hour efforts and riding bikes adapted to crit racing with high brackets – it’s hard for English road pros to beat them never mind Scottish riders used to slogging across the moors in wind and rain. But for a crit to be spectacular it needs to be gutter to gutter, handlebar to handlebar – the circuit used for this year's Edinburgh Tour Series event does not produce that kind of race. And like Willard says to the GI in the movie ‘Apocalypse Now !’ – ‘do you know who’s in charge here, soldier?’

Le Tour de France – Day 8: Stage 20, Cerilly to Saint-Amand-Montrond

The Salle de Presse in Saint-Amand-Montrond, 17.30 Saturday 26th July and Carlos Sastre has just won the Tour de France, it won't be official until tomorrow after the big show on the Champs Elysee, but it's won. Personally I'm happy with the result; at least Sastre took the race by the scruff of the neck on L'Alpe D'Huez, an 'exploit.' Evans strategy of following may have been dictated by the weakness of his team, but it would have been hard to be enthusiastic about him as a Tour winner.

Joe Nally – in France for 2021, with Team Elite Restauration 89

Joe Nally is a resilient lad. He's gone out and got himself a ride with French Division Two équipe, Team Elite Restauration 89 based in Toucy for season 2021. Not a bad move in our opinion; the French scene may not be as strong as it once was but it’ll certainly provide more and better racing than Joe would have access to in the UK.