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Callum Skinner – “I’d like to ride all four sprint events”

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The Commonwealth Games in Glasgow 2014 wasn’t really fair to us Scots; our ‘Old Guard’ of James McCallum, Evan Oliphant and David Millar were all nearer the end than the beginning of their careers whilst Young Turks Katie Archibald and Mark Stewart  were still on the way up.

The Gold Coast 2018 is a different proposition with Katie and Callum Skinner now Olympic champions, Mark a double under 23 European Champion and Neah Evans on the top step of a World Cup podium – and don’t forget ‘left fielder’ Jonny Wale, reigning British team pursuit champion and 1:01 kilometre man.

Every one of these riders has a Commonwealth Games medal within their capabilities – and in case you hadn’t realised The Games are now only some four months down the line.

VeloVeritas spoke to all five riders about their 2017 seasons and prospects in Australia come the spring, and we start with the 25 year-old Callum Skinner who burst back onto the scene at the recent Manchester World Cup, posting a couple of extremely fast kilometre times…

What was the post-Rio period like Callum – satisfaction or ‘burst bubble’?

“Harsh reality sets in fairly quickly when you return to competition.

“The guys who went to Rio and were beaten come back hungry and faster.

“The young guys who didn’t make the Olympics burst onto the scene with a similar resolve.

“It’s a tough competitive sport.”

Looking at your palmarès, you last posted results before the Manchester World Cup in March at Alkmaar, is that how you like it or would you rather race more?

“I’d probably prefer to race a handful of times a year and have an absolute stormer.

“You can’t go well all the time so some of the early season races can be tough if you are lacking on form.

“There is a necessity to qualify points in order to race at the World Cups then you have to race at the World Cups to qualify for worlds.

“There aren’t really many options to race less or more.”

Callum Skinner
Callum had lots to celebrate at Rio. Photo©Getty Images

Given the paucity of races how do you retain your motivation?

“I’m quite personally driven, I’m always looking to go faster in training or get stronger in the gym.

“You’ve got to constantly look for gains.”

No Poland World Cup for you – why not?

“I picked up a back injury in the Kilo at the European Championships.

“I felt a ‘click’ in the first four revs but then pushed on to finish the ride.

“Afterwards the whole of my back went into spasm, I couldn’t move with out pain, completely locked up.

“Luckily after a few days things began to relax off and I could tip toe back into training.

“I’m now at full fitness.”

And no team sprint at Manchester either?

“I was riding for British Cycling’s Trade Team ‘100% Me’.

“You can’t chop and change teams during competition so I couldn’t ride in the British Team Sprint.”

The Kilometre at Manchester, does this signal a change of direction?

“I feel like that’s where I can make the greatest inroads for now.

“With it being a Commonwealth event at the Gold Coast in the late Spring it’s a nice target.”

Callum Skinner
Callum in action at the last Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014. Photo©Martin Williamson

An ‘0’ in qualifying then a ‘1’ in the final – good consistent riding, was that ‘0’ a personal best?

“Yes that the first ‘0’ ride I’ve done.

“I feel like I could have managed it in Euros as well if my back had held up.

“The UCI could do with ditching the two rides format and go back to a straight final.”

What’s the programme between now and the Worlds and what will you ride at the World Champs?

“I’m looking to ride the Canadian World Cup coming up soon.

“After that we are off to Australia for some sunshine then its back to Manchester for British Nationals.

“We might do a smaller GP before worlds to sharpen up.”

What are your thoughts on holding form through the World Champs to the Commonwealth Games?

“It’s going to be tricky.

“It might work out, in 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games came first (where I underperformed) then the Euros followed where I became European Champion.”

Callum Skinner
Callum rode the Keirin in Glasgow. Photo©Martin Williamson

Will Scotland have a team sprint team?

“There needs to be a realistic chance of a podium.

“In Jack Carlin we have a solid man one, I can take up man three.

“Man two is a tricky one but we have some promising young athletes in Ali Fielding and Lewis Stewart.

“To beat New Zealand, Canada, Australia and England will be a big ask.”

Which disciplines will you ride?

“I’d like to ride all four sprint events.”

I hear that you’ll be getting the Cervélo Olympic ‘super bikes’ for the Worlds and Games – how much of a ‘lift’ is that?

“It’ll be good to have them back. There are some more improvements expected above what we rode at the Games.

“It makes a big difference.

“The UKSI bike is terrific, its stiff and handles great.

“The Cervélo keeps those characteristics but has a big aero upgrade, you always want to be on the best kit.”

Tokyo 2020 – is it in your mind?

“For sure, the four year cycle is what the programme is all about.”

If you could win just one more bike race, what would you want it to be?

“I’d love a world title.”

VeloVeritas would love that too!

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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