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Ethan Vernon – Part of the Welsh Team Pursuit Squad “hoping to go sub-four”

"I’ve just got to keep working and racing as hard as I can."

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The Rio Olympics 2016 and GB triumph in the team pursuit, again; Messrs. Burke, Clancy, Doull and Wiggins.

There’s a ‘but’ – where was the ‘new blood’ in the team?

With Burke and Clancy there in the winning team at the previous Games, 2012 in London – and Clancy and Wiggins in the team at the Olympics before that, Beijing 2008.

Perennial rivals Australia, who have won the world title a dozen times since it went ‘Elite’ in 1993 but who ‘sat out’ the 2018 Apeldoorn Worlds in favour of their home Commonwealth Games – where they broke the mythical 3:50 barrier – seem to have an endless succession of fresh blood coming through.

But fear not, GB team pursuit team fans, their winning team in Apeldoorn featured 19 year-old Ethan Hayter, who VeloVeritas spoke to recently.

Also in the mix were sprinter turned team pursuiter, Kian Emadi – who we spoke to a few years back when he dipped way under the magical minute for the kilometre – overnight sensation Charlie Tanfield and, yes, Cybernetic Organism, Ed Clancy.

But there’s an even newer kid on the block, just 17 years-old, the winner of three national championships in 2017, author of a 1:02 kilometre and in the Welsh team which twice recorded 4:01 rides in the recent Commonwealth Games. He’s also an ‘Ethan’; Mr. Ethan Vernon – another man to benefit from riding with Dan Bigham’s KGF track squadra.

Here’s what he had to say to us just the other day…

Ethan Vernon
Ethan showing his KGF influences in the Individual Pursuit at the Commonwealth Games. Photo©Guy Swarbrick

How old are you, Ethan and where are you from?

“I am 17 years-old and from Barton-Le-Clay in Bedfordshire.”

I believe you got into cycling via BMX – what was the progression after that?

“Yes I started racing BMX at six years-of-age up until I was 14.

“I picked up quite a lot of injuries over the years so started training at the Welwyn Wheelers outdoor Velo track to assist with rehab and to work on my power and Endurance.

“It wasn’t long before I started racing and became hooked on the track.

“This then progressed on to the road up to where I am now.”

Are you still at school, we heard you had to be pretty creative to fit in studying and training?

“Yes I am still at school studying for my A levels.

“It’s pretty tricky trying to juggle the two but there are many top riders who have succeeded before me with their education so I am hoping to follow the same route.”

Your 2017 British Junior Track Championship was pretty spectacular, three gold and bronzes…

“Yes, that was awesome.

“I had put some serious training in the lead up to the champs so was pretty confident of getting some decent results.

“It was a real bonus getting to train with the KGF boys in the lead up.

“They gave me some valuable advice and guidance on positioning.

“To win the National Champs jerseys and break the national records as a first year Junior in both the individual pursuit and one kilometre time trial was pretty cool but then to go on and win the points race later that day was something special.”

How did the 2018 British Champs go for you?

“It was great to be part of a strong squad for KGF in the team pursuit.

“Unfortunately we only got to ride a couple of times before the event so didn’t quite get the timing right for the qualifier.

“Still, we won the bronze but we really should have been in the final for silver and gold.

“My kilometre was okay but I know I can go quicker [Ethan was ninth in 1:03:177, ed.]

“My scratch [ninth] and points races [13th] were pretty decent but it was always going to be a bit of a struggle as a junior competing in senior races.

“There are some seriously quick and talented riders in the UK.”

Ethan Vernon
Ethan is a very talented IP, TP and kilo rider. Photo©Guy Swarbrick

The Games team pursuit, 4:01:489 and 4:01:362 pretty rapid times from your Welsh team – less than a second off bronze – are those the fastest team pursuits you’ve ridden and was the team satisfied with them?

“We were hoping to go sub four; but not too bad considering we only rode together a couple of times before the event.

“We were of course disappointed at the time to miss out on a bronze medal by only 0.8 seconds behind Canada but hopefully we will step up for gold medal contention in 2022, Birmingham!”

The Games individual pursuit, 4:27 – perhaps not as quick as you would have liked?

“No, I must confess I was a bit disappointed.

“My aim was 4:20 but not sure where I got that from as it was the first time I had done a four kilometre individual pursuit!

“That is my target time (if not a little quicker) for the Senior Champs in 2019.”

And the kilometre in the Games, 1:02:935; were you happy with that ride – what’s your personal best?

“A 1:01 was what I was aiming for but went a bit light on the gearing.

“My legs were still fresh at the end as you will see from my last lap time.

“I’m confident I can achieve a 1:01 that this year.

“My PB was a 1:02:3 at the junior track champs.”

Ethan Vernon
Ethan’s favourite track discipline is the Team Pursuit. Photo©Guy Swarbrick

Who are your role models in the sport – and why?

“When I first moved from BMX to track, it was Chris Hoy. Chris being an ex-BMXer and awesome sprinter.

“The more I got into track the more I admired riders like Cameron Meyer as an all-round track rider.

“Ed Clancy is another one up the top of my list.”

How did you hook up with KGF?

“I met up with the KGF guys when training at Derby.

“I messaged them after their success at the Track Nationals in 2017 and just became good mates from there.”

But will we be seeing you on a BC programme soon?

“I am in my second year of the BC Junior Academy Programme.

“Hopefully I will be selected for the Senior Academy this year.

“I’ve just got to keep working and racing as hard as I can.”

Ethan Vernon
Ethan is currently on the GB Junior Academy Programme. Photo©UCI

How has Mr. Bigham improved your aero signature?

“Dan is great to be around and have as a teammate.

“He is so knowledgeable and helpful but not just with aerodynamics.

“I think it’s quite clear to see the riders he has assisted with positioning.”

Who’s your coach – what’s the ethos?

“Stuart Blunt from British Cycling is my coach.

“I can’t say enough about this guy; He is so supportive, firm but fair. Work hard and he will give you so much in return.”

You’re very versatile but which is your favourite discipline?

“I love everything on the track so that’s a difficult one.

“Criterium racing is also another favourite.

“If I had to pick one then I would say ‘team pursuit.’”

What’s the long term ambition?

“To represent GB at the Olympics for as long as I can and pick up as many Gold medals as possible along the way.

“Also to join a Pro team afterwards and become their sprinter.”

Maybe Ed Clancy will get to put on his slippers after Tokyo, then 2020?

With thanks to Ethan – VeloVeritas will be keeping an eye on his progress.

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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