It was 2017 when we last spoke to 19 year-old Scot from quiet Charlestown in Fife, Joe Nally; he’d recently become the youngest ever winner of the British Points Race Championship at just 17 years-of-age.
He was a Hardie Bikes of Cairneyhill man back then but is now part of the British Cycling system.
However this year, until Tour of Britain time, season 2018 hadn’t gone as he’d have liked.
He ‘got round’ the u23 Gent-Wevelgem and ZLM Tour in The Netherlands but was DNF in the two big Italian races the GP Industrio and Commercio and GP Liberazione.
He was also DNF in the Fleche du Sud stage race in Luxembourg but finished in the Paris-Arras stage race before another DNF in the GP Priessnitz in the Czech Republic (also now referred to as the ‘Peace Race’ ed.)
The Tour of Alsace saw him miss the time cut on Stage Three.
However the Tour of Britain saw him finish in one piece against the strongest of opposition and delivered a welcome boost to his flagging self-confidence.
And just the other week, back on the boards, Joe picked up a couple of podiums in the same UCI track meet at Grenchen, Switzerland where John Archibald had the time keepers looking twice at their watches with his 4:10 pursuit ride.
We caught up with Joe after his Boxing Day training ride (I can just about remember those, up into North Fife with Dave Chapman for a couple of hours then home for steak pie at Mum’s), here’s what he had to say:
Merry Xmas sir – and first up, remind us which British Cycling programme you’re on please?
“I’m with the Senior Academy, year two.”
From junior to u23, a big leap?
“An interesting change, yes.
“As a junior you actually do so much more – for example you have school and homework – but now only it’s racing, training or doing nothing so you can recover.
“It takes a bit of getting used to – this tunnel vision.”
A couple of nice finishes at the Grenchen meeting – was that your first racing on the track since the London Six Day?
“Yes but I’ve been training on track, even so I hadn’t expected to do well because I’ve been doing a lot on the road since I didn’t do the London World Cup track – I’ve been getting the winter miles in.
“The team pursuit didn’t go that well, we were second to HUUB with a 4:07 to their 4:02 in qualifying and they caught us in the final.
“But I went well in the bunch races with second in the elite points race and third in the u23 elimination race.”
The team pursuit is the GB ‘flagship’ event isn’t it?
“Yes and the standard to make the team is ridiculously high so I think I would rather focus on the road.”
Tell us about the London Six Day.
“I was a great experience but came during our off season; midway through the race I picked up a stomach bug and was neutralised for a day.
“But the five days I did race were good though, getting stuck in with the guys you usually only watch on the TV.”
You rode some good stage races during the road season; Paris-Arras and the Fleche du Sud, quality events, how did they go for you?
“In Paris-Arras I went well on Stage One but by Stage Five I was on my knees.
“The Tour of Britain saved my season; I rode the Tour of Alsace but it didn’t go well for me.
“I was supposed to ride the Tour de l’Avenir but because my form wasn’t good in Alsace there was no point.
“My coach said that I could either take my holiday or spend two or three weeks training and if I did a good ride in the Ryedale GP at the end of it then I’d get a ride in the Tour of Britain.
“I decided to keep riding – it was good because it was stress free, no pressure and I trained well.
“I took 11th in the Ryedale and made the Tour of Britain team where I just got stuck in and was part of the race alongside all those big names.
“It was a good way to end my road season.”
If that was the hi-lite, what were the low points of 2018?
“How much time have you got?
“In June and July I wasn’t in a good place mentally – I was showing up but not getting round.
“I needed those couple of weeks training which I mentioned – time to myself…”
How has the winter training been going?
“A bit of everything – a lot on the road, training camps, gym, then there was Grenchen and the track nationals start on January 25th with a track meet in Ghent to follow them so it’s a busy winter.”
Is Keith Lambert still in charge of your programme?
“Matt Brammeier has taken over from Keith so it’ll be interesting to see what direction he takes; Keith will be hard to match though – he’s 71 years-old and still goes out on the bike with us !
“Ben Greenwood is also involved in coaching us.”
How’s the road programme looking for 2019?
“It’s not been agreed yet but we have a new coach in Matt so there will be new ideas; but I’d imagine we’ll be doing all the Nations Cup races [season long UCI competition for u23 riders – ed.], the Tour of Yorkshire and there’s a stage race in Portugal we’ll be doing – and we’ll be racing in Belgium in the spring.”
So what’s 2019 about for Joe Nally?
“I want to feature more towards the pointy end of races in 2019, continue to learn and build on how I was going towards the end of season 2018 in the Tour of Britain.”