Sunday, October 17, 2021
HomeInterviewsOllie Wood - "The Tokyo Olympics are the Big Goal"

Ollie Wood – “The Tokyo Olympics are the Big Goal”


The Six Days have changed so much; ‘back in the day’ the specialists would joust with the big road names in up to 17 venues from Copenhagen via Bordeaux and Grenoble to Milan.

Nowadays there are very few of the specialist due to a much reduced Six Day calendar and the road men need astronomic sums to tempt them onto the boards – and that’s if their DS’s give them permission.

Those Six Day boards are a dangerous place and with the season closing in late October (Cav was road racing in Abu Dhabi in early December!) then kicking off again January there’s little time to recover from a crash.

Therefore it’s very unusual to see a man who can finish top four in the Road Worlds in action on a Six Day track.

Step forward, GB rider Ollie Woods; granted it was the U23 Worlds where he was fourth but the race was won by a World Tour rider, AG2R’s Benoit Cosnefroy and of the surviving Six Days, Gent is the toughest and stays most faithful to ‘old school’ Six format, unlike London with its ‘Revolution’ type ‘Six Day lite’ programme.

As he did last year, Wood rode Gent with Scotland’s European U23 Omnium and Individual Pursuit Champion, Mark Stewart.

Ollie Wood
Ollie (l) with Martin and Mark in Gent. Photo©Ed Hood

The Wakefield man comes from good stock; father Alastair was British junior and senior points race champion, senior scratch and twice Madison champion among his total of 25 National medals – he also represented GB at junior and senior level on the world stage.

Like they say; ‘to be a champion you should choose your parents carefully.’

On the track Wood junior has been a consistent top performer with national team pursuit and scratch titles to his name in 2014.

In 2015 he again was in the winning team at national level and added the European U23 team pursuit title.

Last year he was on the European podium in both the U23 and Elite team pursuit competitions – bronze on both occasions.

And this season saw gold in the Manchester World Cup team pursuit.

We caught up with the now 22 year-old – his birthday was the week after the Six finished – to discuss his 2017 season and his plans for 2018 and beyond.

Ollie Wood
Ollie in action in Gent. Photo©Ed Hood

You and Mark rode in Gent last year, how does this year compare, Ollie?

“A bit easier because you know what to expect; it’s a totally different sensation, this track is tiny, a massive difference from the 250 metre tracks we ride in European and World Cup competitions.”

How did you get into cycling?

“My dad raced and was a British champion on the track, he started riding again on his fortieth birthday and I used to go out with him.

“I did a bit of running, triathlon then mountain biking and cyclo-cross, I was in the Aire Valley Cycling Club and it all just grew from there – riding the Scunthorpe Track League then the Manchester Track League.”

And you’ve come up through all of the British Cycling programmes?

“Yeah, I started on the ‘Talent’ programme then moved up to the ‘Olympic Development Programme’ then ‘The Academy’ and now I’m on the ‘Podium’ programme.

“I don’t find it overly regimented, we have our own house and as long as we’re doing the training that’s prescribed we’re pretty much left to get on with it.”

How’s your acceptance here in Gent from the other teams?

“It’s pretty friendly and you have to take time to savour the atmosphere in the place – at World Cup meets it’s much more intense and competitive.”

Ollie Wood
Ollie has produced some great rides at world level on the road too. Photo©Ed Hood

Tell us about 2017.

“I pulled it together with my Worlds result, I broke my wrist in the Giro Bio so I had a late start to my road campaign after the track in the winter – but I did ride the Tour de l’Avenir and Tour of Britain, which were good prep for The Worlds.”

That was a nice ride in Bergen.

“I thought that it might be a boring race once it was on the circuit but not a bit of it, there was always something happening – you just didn’t know what to expect.

“Our plan had been to ride for Chris Lawless but he wasn’t there so we had our options open.

“The last climb was very hard; when Cosnefroy and Kamna got away there was just our Mark Stewart and Pedersen the Dane chasing, if one more strong guy had aided the chase we’d have had them back.

“If you’d said to me before the race that I’d be fourth than I’d have bitten your hand off but when you’re so close to the podium you think about, ‘what might have been.’”

What’s your next race?

“The World Cup in Milton, Canada where I’ll be riding the omnium and madison. (Wood finished second in the omnium and third, with Stewart, in the Madison, ed.)

“Our team pursuit pool is really strong and deep right now, there’s a lot of competition to get in – we’re going to have a really strong team for the Olympics.

“After Milton there’ll be A LOT of training.

“At the Apeldoorn Worlds I’d like to ride the team pursuit, Madison and omnium then at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast the team pursuit, omnium and scratch.”

Ollie Wood
Ollie will be riding for JLT Condor next season. Photo©Ed Hood

What’s the plan for 2018?

“I’m going to have a major training block in then the Worlds are end of February/beginning of March in the Netherlands with the Games at the beginning of April in Australia.

“I’m with JLT Condor for next season and I hope the make the most of the road opportunities I have with them once the Games are past.

“The ride I did in the Worlds along with other road results I’ve had (Wood had a fifth and a seventh on l’Avenir stages and won the Rydedale GP, a major event on the British domestic calendar, ed.) have given my confidence a big boost.”

Is your longer term future on road or track?

“Tokyo is the big goal on the track – and then I’ll turn to the road.”

VeloVeritas wishes Ollie well in Apeldoorn, The Gold Coast and Tokyo.

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

Then and Now – Wembley 1980 and London Six Day 2015, According to Top Soigneur Kris Tolmie

Prior to the recent ‘five plus one’ it’s 35 years since a Six Day string made the London boards hum – albeit different times, riders and venue. We thought it would be interesting to fire a few questions at a man who’s worked both races; 1980 AND 2015 – VeloVeritas’s ‘man on the inside’ and over the years soigneur to some of the biggest names in Six Day bike racing; Kris Tolmie.

Grenoble Four Day 2012, Day Four: Iljo & Kenny Win, with a Doublette!

Watching a dream die is never nice, but if it's done quickly and clinically, then it's humane, at least. Iljo Keisse and Kenny De Ketele were ruthless executioners in the last chase in the small hours of Sunday morning. Bryan Coquard and Morgan Kneisky rode with panache and bravery, in what I believe was a 100% 'straight' finale. Inside the last 50 laps of 180 the Belgians attacked - we were waiting for it.

Havik and Van Schip top the Copenhagen Three Day

From the very first chase there was little doubt about who was in charge of the Copenhagen Three Day 2020; Dutchmen Jan Van Schip and Yoeri Havik were the strongest men on the track. In the recent UCI World Cup in Milton, Canada Van Schip won the Omnium then teamed up with Havik to win the Madison – so we knew they were on form.

Zürich Four Days 2011 – Day One

From the chaos emerged a track centre bar and restaurant, cabins for us, work space for the mechanics - and something to race on. I can't say too much about the track - or Pete will slap me, but it obviously can't be as smooth as a permanent one. The stadium restaurant is good; we get one meal each day - last year it was two. Maybe they figure that since it's only four days we don't need fed as much?

Gent Six Day 2009 – Night Three

The Belgian papers are something else. Whilst you do get superb cycling coverage; in yesterday's 'De Gentenaar' we had to endure a colour photograph of a fatal road accident, complete with burnt out car and mangled push bike; a racist photo manipulation of Michelle Obama as a character from Planet of the Apes and images from a slaughter house, including a cow getting it's head chopped off - I'll stick with the Guardian.

The First Three Nights of the Rotterdam Six Day 2019

Dutch 15 times former motor paced world champion Bruno Walrave is the man with the plan - and the keys; but he's, 'in a meeting... Bruno is pushing 80 years-of-age but let’s just say that; “age hasn’t mellowed him.” Eventually the door opens and we're in business – handshakes, the key, creds and unload the mobile home.

At Random

Giro d’Italia 2008 – Day 5: Rest Day

Rest Day at the Giro d'Italia 2008... "When you hear the tootin' of the whistle, you never have to guess; it's Casey at the throttle of the Cannonball Express" - Dave and I were just debating the lyrics of the Casey Jones 60's TV programme, if anyone can give us the full lyrics, we'd be much obliged. Sorry, on long transfer drives like this, you get to talking about all sorts of things.

Why Not Take the Scottish Road Race Championship 2009 to the People!

The Scottish Road Race Championship; a nice day, a good course - past the village green at Denholm is cool - well marshalled, a full field.

Le Tour de France 2010, Second Rest Day

'How's it goin' Shane?' we ask Skyman Shane Sutton as we cross the car park in search of Michael Barry for a rest day interview at the Le Tour de France 2010. 'Been better, mate!' he fires back between hard draws on his fag - it's difficult for a man who wears his heart on his sleeve to 'spin.'

Gordon Singleton – “My last big race and the one people remember me for”

It was Keirin and Sprint legend Koichi Nakano’s birthday the other day, 65 years-old. His huge claim to fame is that he won 10 consecutive World Professional Sprint titles. Mention of his name got us thinking that he didn’t really win those titles straight and to find out more we spoke to Gordon Singleton of Canada…

World Road Championships 2006 – Day 3: A Little Downtime

Not much exciting so far at the World Road Championships 2006 and its gone 2.00 pm. I awoke to the bells at about 7.30 and was first in the shower room. Breakfast was fine, but there's still no small-talk in there; it's not a bad thing I guess-you are out the door pronto. I was sat in the press centre immediately it opened at 9.00 and I've been writing ever since. I did my piece about Vino, Zabriskie and Cancellara plus their respective bikes and since then I've been getting the old VeloVeritas dairy up to date.

The Tour of Hellas and some Greek Economics

On Wednesday I shall be riding the UCI 2.2 Tour of Hellas which so far as I can tell is basically the Tour of Greece. There are five stages in all and they are all fairly hilly but not too steep, which is good for me (if I am riding well).