He’s been quiet, that man Mark Stewart, Scotland’s reigning Commonwealth Games Points Race Champion.
But he’s back with four World Cup medals on two continents within a matter of days. Best ‘have a word’, we thought to ourselves…
Congratulations on some great riding, Mark – you’ve been quiet since The Games but back with team pursuit and points race silver medals in the first round of the World Cup in Paris.
“I did the Grand Prix in Poland, that was a UCI Class 1 but Paris was my first big one.
“I was a bit apprehensive about the team pursuit, it was my first since the European Champs in 2017.
“Not so much with the bunch races, you have an idea of how you’re going – provided you don’t destroy yourself too early in the day.”
Although the World Cup is Friday to Sunday, the team pursuit qualifying takes place on the Thursday night?
“Yes, it makes it a long weekend of racing – and it’s almost like training with no fans in the velodromes on the Thursday evening.”
In Paris the team pursuit and points race were on the same day…
“Yes but we take five riders and switch them round to suit.”
What happened in the team pursuit final – very rare to see GB getting caught!
“We messed it up, we kinda waited and Kian caught us back up but went straight past and dropped us all.
“By the time we got it back together the Danes we’re in our wash and on us.”
[Aero guru, Dan Bigham tells VeloVeritas that as soon a team goes a second or two ‘up’ on their opponents they have the benefit of ‘disturbed’ air which is easier to slice through than ‘dead’ air and confers a distinct advantage over the team which is ahead. ed.]
Nice to see you getting a medal in two different disciplines…
“I’m not Kian or Ed Clancy who are super team pursuit riders so I know I have to be good at other things too.
“I like team pursuit but I love the bunch races – Scratch, Omnium and Madison.”
One week between Paris and Milton in Canada for round two of the World Cup – that’s tight with the travel.
“For GB the team pursuit is always the big goal and we were over in Milton on the Monday after Paris at the weekend so we had a few days to get sessions in on the track.
“I was a wee bit ill after Paris and the travel didn’t help either.”
I heard that the Milton track isn’t the best?
“It’s really bad – accentuated by the fact that you’re coming from Paris which is so wide, smooth and fast.
“The turns are tight, it’s a most unforgiving track – I came down in the omnium elimination and that was due to the track.”
You rode the first two races in the team pursuit at Milton.
“Yeah but it was a bit confusing, on the Thursday whilst I wasn’t super in qualifying I played my part, which was a relief because I’d been a little sick.
“But on the Friday I just went so badly, it was weird.
“However, like they say, ‘form doesn’t disappear overnight’ – but that 55′ we did would have been a 53′ if I had been going as I should.
“Then I woke up on Saturday and was fine!”
The level in the team pursuit is coming up all the time, isn’t it?
“Oh yes, Canada did a 56′ and the US team were very quick in the Pan Ams; with France, Belgium and Italy all getting quicker and quicker.”
You put a nice series of rides together to get silver in the omnium.
“Yes, I won the tempo and scratch; I was fourth in the elimination but was on the deck in that one.
“In the points I should perhaps have ridden more defensively; I was on the offensive early and the Frenchman Thomas Boudat timed his move well, taking a lap to get enough points to win.
“But that’s why you ride the World Cups – make the mistakes there, not in the Worlds!
“The thing is that the standard in the GB squad is so high with riders like Ollie Woods and Ethan Hayter that you have to be looking for the podium.”
You and Ollie left it late to get your madison silver behind Denmark.
“I’m not u23 anymore and this is my fourth year of World Cups so if I’m not ‘up there’ it’s disappointing; we wanted to win but whilst the field wasn’t perhaps stacked as high as the Worlds we still had to contend with teams like Belgium and Spain.
“I hurt myself when I came down in the omnium elimination and had to spend a lot of time in rehab before the Madison – Ollie did a good job for us!”
Four medals across four disciplines in World Cups shows great versatility, Mark.
“The worst finish the GB team had in any of the endurance events was fourth over the two World Cups – and don’t forget that we didn’t have Charlie Tanfield or Ethan Hayter on the team.
“I think they’ll be coming in for the Berlin World Cup on November 30th to December 2nd – management want everyone to get a chance to perform across the different disciplines.
“Ethan will probably do the omnium and then the Madison with Ollie.
“I’m not sure if I’ll be in the line-up; I wouldn’t mind if I wasn’t there, I could do with more training to give me a little more ‘punch.’”
At time of writing the official GB endurance selection for the third round of the Tissot World Cup in Berlin was: Ed Clancy, Kian Emadi, Ethan Hayter, Mark Stewart, Charlie Tanfield, Ollie Wood – so we look forward to seeing our boy in action again and wish him ‘all the best.’