Continuing with our series of interviews with Scotland’s Commonwealth Games cycling medallists, VeloVeritas chats to Neah Evans who returned from the Gold Coast with two medals from the points and scratch races, despite illness prior to The Games.
Although she prepared specifically for the track events she also rode the individual road time trial and road race.
These were always going to be a challenge given that she would be up against time trial specialists in the former and regular road performers in the latter. Despite this she brought home two top 10 finishes.
Congratulations on your two medals, Neah. Let’s start with points race bronze: was it always the plan for you and Katie Archibald to ride your own races?
“We did have a rough plan going into the race.
“I have had time off due to illness and it was unknown how I would manage and Katie had the IP in her legs, so it was about being adaptable.
“We believed that we could both medal and we succeeded with that.”
Any ‘with hind sights’ on the race; albeit Elinor Barker looked very strong – she would have been hard to beat?
“For me the race was a little bit of a blur (I wasn’t feeling too good during it.)
“There will always be moments which I would like to change but that’s how it went on the night.”
Scratch silver – again, any ‘what ifs’?
“Again I haven’t managed to watch the race back yet but I chased more then I wanted to and was too far back recovering when the Aussies started the sprint lead out.”
I thought you may have ridden the individual pursuit?
“Originally I planned to ride it but I have had some training time off due to illness, so I decided to prioritise training for the bunch races.”
What did you think of the track – how did it compare to Glasgow?
“I liked it a lot, it was really fun to race on; it’s not as steep or aggressive as Glasgow.”
How was the Aussie crowd towards “outsiders”?
“I thought the crowd was fantastic, they got behind the races rather than just the Aussie riders.
“It probably helped to have so many Scots in the crowd also.”
Eighth in the time trial – were you happy with that ride?
“I had zero expectations or ambitions for the time trial so; ‘yes.’
“My preparation was for bunch races in the track and with just a day’s turnaround I knew I wouldn’t have a fantastic ride and then there were some issues just before the start.
“I had to race without a radio which had a big effect on me.
“So considering everything, I would say it’s a good benchmark to improve from.”
Eighth in the road race too, just off the lead group, were you happy with that?
“Again I knew my preparation wasn’t ideal and after riding the route the day before I had doubts that I would even finish.
“I started cramping up badly just over half way through, but I wanted to try and help the team out so stuck at it and then somehow managed to stay in the front group ‘til the final climb.
“I’m annoyed with my positioning coming into it but realistically I should be happy; my last road race was the British Nationals last year and I just haven’t been doing the appropriate training for road racing at that level.”
A hard day in the road race with the climbs and wind?
“Yes, they were punchy power climbs so do a lot of damage.
“The pace was often slack between the climbs as no one was willing to work into the head wind.”
When you see the result of races like the Tour of Flanders do you think; ‘I’d like to be part of that?’
“Nope, I would like to do more road in the future but for now track will be my main focus.”
Looking back, anything you’d do differently in your build up to The Games?
“Not really, due to illness it was a bit of a juggling act, taking it session by session which isn’t ideal but it’s how I had to do it.
“Luckily the coaching staff were sympathetic and adaptable to this.”
What’s next on the race programme?
“I believe I’m on the start list for Tour de Yorkshire with Storey racing, which will be a shock to the system!
“Then I’ll go into the Tour Series whilst trying to build my road fitness.”
Will you be continuing as a full time athlete or resuming your career?
“I’m part of the GB programme and I’m happy to continue with this.
“I will have plenty of time to continue my veterinary career once I have finished cycling.”
Is it nice to re-acquaint with the Scottish climate?
“Yes and no.
“I really enjoy training in Scotland but I was getting a little frustrated with the snow which we had shortly before heading to Australia so I was forced to do more turbo then I would have liked.”
With thanks to Neah and wishing her ‘all the best’ for Yorkshire.