Friday, May 27, 2022
HomeInterviewsMark Stewart - "I realise AN Post is 'the real deal'"

Mark Stewart – “I realise AN Post is ‘the real deal'”


Mark Stewart
Mark Stewart. Photo©Alex Broadway/

The last time we spoke to Mark Stewart, Scotland’s top endurance track rider, he’d just added to his growing medal collection at the European Championships with bronze in the team pursuit and silver in the scratch.

Some nice road results in the Ronde van Oost Vlaanderen followed where he made his breakthrough from riding as a domestique and/or ‘getting round’ to being a serious contender for stage and overall honours.

But it wasn’t long before he would be back on the boards – he is a trackman, after all.

He missed the 2016 London Six Day where he rode so well last year to win the individual ‘1878’ competition which preceded the main event, then paired with Germain Burton to ride strongly in the actual Six (‘Five’ just doesn’t sound right.)

Incidentally, we’ve lost the talented Burton to the sport, the pressures of full time GB team living and racing proving just too much for him.

Because this season the ‘Madison Sports Group’ which promotes the event want the same ‘National’ teams to ride all of their Six Days – London, Amsterdam, Berlin and Copenhagen plus a one day ‘finale’ in Mallorca in the spring, Mark couldn’t get a ride.

He’s unable to comply with riding all four races in the series due to his national team commitments; so whilst the boards were humming in London he was slogging out four and five hour ‘endurance’ road rides in preparation for the UCI track World Cups.

[vsw id=”b5tM2TWE7yc” source=”youtube” width=”615″ height=”430″ autoplay=”no”]

The Glasgow World Cup saw the Stewart medal collection swell again; teaming up with pursuiter Andy Tennant, former kilometre rider Kian Emadi and Stewart’s regular madison partner Ollie Wood in beating European champions France (Thomas Benjamin, Sylvain Chavanel, Corentin Ermenault and Adrien Garel) in the final in a quick time of 3:58.891 to France’s 4:00.230 for gold.

Mark also lined up for the points race, here he takes up the story;

“We were pleased with our team pursuit times in Glasgow, we did 3:58 twice with 3:58.1 in qualifying; remember that in the Commonwealth Games the Aussies won with 3:57.9 and Wiggins, Clancy & Co. did a 3:59 for silver – so happy with that.

“I rode the points race too but in a 30 minute effort like that it tells that you’ve only been training for the four minute effort of the team pursuit.

“Four of us took a lap and I was in second position ‘til the end when my doors blew off so I just missed a medal.

“I rode the madison too, with Ollie Wood and we finished eighth behind the Spaniards with our endurance the problem again; we were happy enough though, it was a big improvement on the Euros where were 13th.”

Mark Stewart
Mark loves the opportunities he is being given at the moment, and loves winning. Photo©BC

The very next weekend saw the second World Cup of the season in Apeldoorn, The Netherlands where the Stewart/Woods pairing continued to improve;

“We took bronze in the madison behind Belgium’s Robbe Ghys and Kenny De Ketele and the Italian pair Francesco Lamon and Simone Consonni so again, we were happy with the ride – and we were out on the road in the mornings there, too.

“Ollie and I are gelling well, we’re similar riders and it’s coming together for us nicely.

I rode the points race but it was a strange one with no laps gained and it just didn’t go my way.”

Next on the agenda was the Gent Six Day, without doubt the toughest of the surviving Six Days.

“The madisons may not be over 100 kilometres any more but the non-stop programme, tight, technical track and constant dog fights between the Belgians make it as close as there is to a proper ‘old school’ Six Day.

“I enjoyed the experience, the atmosphere is terrific and you’re up there with Cav and Wiggins – but went in tired, it was my third week on the bounce of flights and hotels and the first night just didn’t go to plan with us losing three laps.

“Rod Ellingworth had a word with us, told us to keep calm and chose our moments to go for laps a bit better – so that eased the pressure on us.

“Cam Meyer was recording data on his bike and he told me we were racing 100 kilometres each night – and that’s until 2:00 am then you’re not getting to sleep until 3:00 or 4:00 am, it’s physically very demanding.

Iljo Keisse told me there was one morning he didn’t get to sleep until about 6:00 am.

“The mental side is taxing; it’s not like racing on a big 250 metre track, it’s only 166 metres and you can’t relax for a single second – by the third night we were knackered!”

Mark Stewart
Mark is looking forward to the road season with AN Post. Photo©BC

But Gent was Mark’s last outing on the boards for a least a wee while before the build-up to the World Track Championships in Hong Kong, April 12th to 16th 2017.

“I’ll be doing a ‘power block’ with lots of gym work in December and then in January I have an AN Post get-together in Calpe and I’m riding some of the races at the Challenge Vuelta Mallorca too.

“The next World Cups are Cali, Columbia in February, the 17th to 19th, then Los Angeles 25th to 26th … but it’s still early to be talking about them.

“The Worlds are in April so I’d hope to do some road events with AN Post before I start the Worlds build up.

“I’m aiming for selection for the team pursuit and madison with Ollie at the Worlds.

“But the new ‘all bunched race’ formula in the omnium suits me – but it suits Ollie and Chris Latham too!”

Mark Stewart
Mark just about has time for a quick hello an hour before the first stage of the Challenge Vuelta Mallorca (Porrerres to Campos) before being hurried to the sign-on by Manager, Keith Lambert. Photo©Martin Williamson

After Hong Kong Mark will be able to concentrate fully on the road with AN Post.

“The more I see of and speak to Kurt Bogaerts (manager) and Niko Eeckhout (ex-Belgian Elite Road race champion, beating Boonen and Gilbert to the title and team coach aka ‘Rambo’, ed.) at AN Post the more I realise that the team is the ‘real deal.

“The programme they have is the best possible at that level – the Sean Kelly and Niko connections mean that they get into just about any race they want, UCI regulations permitting.

“I’ll be based in the team house in Merchtem which is right in the cycling Heartland of Flemish Brabant – I’m looking forward to it!”

We wish Mark a good season – it’s going to be very busy 2017 for him.

Ed Hood
Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 47 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, a team manager, and a 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 for some of the world's top riders. 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

Finlay Young – a Junior, winning Senior Races

Junior racing isn't exactly flourishing in Scotland, so it's good to see one of the youngsters getting a bit of the limelight - 17 year old Finlay Young took the honours in the Jack Murray road race at Dunfermline over the weekend.

Katie Archibald – Olympic Team Pursuit Champion!

At an Edinburgh Book Festival event last week Chris Boardman was asked about his experiences commentating at the recent Olympics, and his standout moments and riders. Chris mentioned that he spent some time with one of the riders who he reckons is an amazing woman and a very interesting character. We've spoken to her enough times to agree with that and to add that she's also an incredible bike rider - and we had a feeling she'd do the business in Rio... of course, we're talking about Ms. Katie Archibald, Olympic Team Pursuit Champion.

Luke Ryan – Nipping Over to Belgium and Winning on the Kermis circuit

It’s high time we looked east again, across the North Sea to where bike racing isn’t an aberration, where it’s in the soil and a barrier to hang over with your Jupiler and frites is never far away. A name which we’ve seen cropping up this year is that of Luke Ryan (Richardsons-Trek Road Team) and recently he won a kermis at Torhout. There’s a man to have a word with...

Kyle Gordon – Big Plans for 2020 and Life in the HUUB House

But we’re pretty sure that no 100 mile time trial champion has ever been on the keirin podium? Enter, that man Kyle Gordon – quality time tester, ever-improving pursuiter and now sprinter. We caught up with the man from Alness just before he jetted off to Australia and a round of the UCI Track World Cup.

Kyle Gordon – Scottish 50 Mile TT Champion breaking Obree’s Record!

That Kyle Gordon (RT23) fella marches on; selection for the Commonwealth Games, solid performances on the Gold Coast, the Scottish 25 mile title, a close encounter with the Scottish 10 mile record – and now the Scottish 50 title in a Scottish record 1:41:16, taking 1:48 off the legend that is Graeme Obree’s time and 6:14 off his own personal best. VeloVeritas just had to ‘have a word’ . . .

Davie Whitehall – Versatile Scottish Rider in the ’70s and ’80s

He’s a man we should have caught up with long ago – but one of the few good things about ‘lockdown’ is that it has given us the time to catch up with riders who have ‘slipped through the VeloVeritas net.’ At last; Mr. David Whitehall...

At Random

Scottish Cyclo-Cross Championship 2007

Craig Hardie (Dunfermline CC) disproved the old adage that; "a good big 'un, will always beat a good little 'un," when the 37 year-old from Dalgety Bay left his much-taller rival Dan Whitehead several lengths back to win the Scottish Cyclo-Cross Championships 2007 on a snowy and technical circuit at Plean Country Park.

John Archibald – Silver TT and Bronze RR National Championship Medals

Six seconds, that was the margin between five times previous champion, gold medal winner and former World Hour Record Holder, Alex Dowsett [Katusha] and silver medallist, Scotland’s John Archibald [Ribble Pro Cycling] in last week’s British Cycling Time Trial Championship in Norfolk. There's a 'but'...

Le Tour de France 2006 – Day 8: Stage 5, Beauvais – Caen

I said this morning that I would talk to you from Caen; well it’s actually Lisieux, around 50 kilometres east of Caen, here on Le Tour de France 2006. It took the usual hour to get to the start this morning. Beauvais was ‘en fete’ for le Tour - not the grotty part of Beauvais you encounter en route to Ryanair’s tent at the airport but the nice, old part complete with Gothic cathedral.

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2012

Sep Vanmarcke instigated the main splits of the day in the Het Nieuwsblad 2012, survived the many crashes on the slippy roads, rode strongly in the breaks and the final winning move, foxed and feigned heavy legs beautifully in the last couple of kilometres and finished the day with a fine accelerating power-sprint win over Tom Boonen and Juan Antonio Flecha.

Andrew Underwood – Scottish 100 Mile TT Champion 2019

There’s been a ‘changing of the guard’ in Scottish middle distance time trialling in 2019; Iain Macleod [Aberdeen Wheelers] in the '50' and now the ‘100’ with Andrew Underwood [Carse of Gowrie Velo] topping the podium he stood on a lower step of last year.

Jeremy Greengrass Remembers ‘THAT’ 25

After the excellent articles on Alf Engers competition record published on VeloVeritas, specifically Part 2, but also Part 1, I thought I should try to recall my memories of that day away back in 1978. At 14 years old it's not often that you can say that "I was there" but I was.