Sunday, September 19, 2021
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Martin Lonie – Double Masters British Champion

"It was a bit of a relief to win the Scratch Race Champs at Newport ... I managed to win four silver medals in British Masters Championships last year."

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Two British Veterans’ Championships this year – and recently (after we did this interview) the Scottish Criterium championship on the Lochgelly circuit too? Best ‘have a word’ with that man Martin Lonie…

The basics first please, Martin: where are you from, age, married/single, profession?

“I’m from Glasgow, I’m 39 and married to Anna.

“I’m a Business Development Manager for a French render manufacturer.”

2019 has been good for you with two British Masters Championships – tell us about those.

“It was a bit of a relief to win the Scratch Race Champs at Newport. I’ve been second a few times and managed to win four silver medals in British Masters Championships last year on road and track.

“I had heaped a lot of pressure on myself to win a stripy jersey in the build-up to the race.

“I attacked a lot and spent 10-15 laps solo, I kept having little digs anytime it slowed up. I wasn’t sure about coming to the finish with Jonathan Harris who is the current World Masters Scratch and Points Race Champion.

“With five laps to go I got a little gap with James Perkins and we took full advantage.

“I knew I had it won with two laps to go and it was nice feeling when I kicked clear and had time to sit up and celebrate crossing the line.”

Martin Lonie
Martin Lonie wins alone. Photo©AMW Photography

“The Criterium Champs at Hillingdon in London was a completely different story.

“Matt Bottrill went clear with my team mate Chris MacNamara on the second lap of the race. They are both incredibly strong riders with some amazing time trial times. Chris doesn’t have much of a sprint so I knew I had to get across to them.

“I averaged 740W for a minute to catch them and struggled to recover to give them a spell.

“After I took one turn Matt attacked so I made sure I was fresh for my next turn. He attacked again and I knew if he got rid of me there was a good chance of him winning so I didn’t do another turn the full race. Matt and Chris rode a 2 up TT with me in tow.

“Chris had a go at getting away which Matt chased him down. Matt had several goes at getting away but never really got a gap.

“We were a minute clear and Chris TT-ed the last two laps with Matt on his wheel with me sat in last place.

“I left the sprint late because there was a headwind and came past Matt pretty comfortably to get my second jersey in two weeks.”

Martin Lonie
Martin Lonie on the top step of the Masters podium. Photo©AMW Photography

You rode the Junior Worlds, ‘back in the mists of time’ – tell us about that.

“Yes, in 1997; the San Sebastian worlds.

“I didn’t have a great race as a couple of laps in there was a crash on the barriers on the climb and a Columbian rider got his handlebars locked through my back wheel. He kept pulling his bars in a panic and I needed the slack to free my bike from his.

“I got close to the back of the bunch but never got back on.

“I did another lap getting cheered on by the massive crowed before I got dragged off the course to do the walk of shame back to the GB tent.”

You were with the ill-fated McCartney team for a spell, what was that like?

“It was a great learning experience. The first race we went to in February we got told just to bring socks and underwear to the airport.

“All our kit, new bike, shoes, Oakleys, helmet, leisurewear, luggage, bike bags, was at the airport waiting for us. It was like Christmas.

“The race was a UCI stage race that was televised and I remember getting a bollocking that none of us had been on TV or done anything of note in the race.

“The next stage I attacked from the flag and was six minutes clear when we hit the first mountain. I got caught on the KOM line, double punctured on the decent and couldn’t get service.

“I had to ride the last two mountains of the 170km stage in a 13 cog to find out I was called to doping control. When I came out of control the car was waiting to motor pace me to catch up with the team which had set off on a two hour training ride.

“I remember thinking ‘this this brutal’, but it soon became the norm; I’m sure we did 165 miles the first day of the Girvan.

“Another highlight was racing with TDF stage winner Max Sciandri. I had to help him and my job was chasing and sitting on David Millar. David was raging and kept losing to plot shouting and swearing at me.

“Then later on you find the guy ripping your legs off and shouting abuse at you for not coming through is full of EPO. 

“Shane Sutton was a good coach and that year I got to race in lots of places, all over Europe, America and Australia.”

Martin Lonie
Martin Lonie leading World Points Race Champion Chris Newton on Stage 2 of the Girvan 3 Day. Photo©Phil O’Connor

Tell us about your time on the continent?

“I loved racing in France. I raced for three French teams in different years, the first when I was 19.

“That was a terrible set up which saw me dropping out of more than one lead break when I couldn’t get a bottle in 35°c heat. I would give them loads of Team Scotland bottles and my French team mates would get them.

“I snapped one day when I was in the lead break of five and I got handed a milk carton with dirt and grass floating in it… they had filled it from a stream or puddle at the side of the road! By the time the bunch came past I was chasing the DS around the team car with my shoes off.

“Gregg Imlah was my team mate and he nearly fell of the bike laughing at me trying to catch the DS, who wasn’t a nice character.

“The next team – based near Lorient – was class; they looked after us really well and my Australian team mate and I kept getting great results.

“We got win bonuses, were well looked after and had a good set up, they treated us like family.

“One week after my Aussie buddy won we asked for a big TV for the house and we got it two days later. Next we asked for a satellite system and again, it arrived two days later. We didn’t ask for much else but they always took us out for meals and brought us fresh food.

“I really enjoyed it right up until I broke my arm and had to go home.”

Martin Lonie winning the GP De Pacè six days before his accident. Photo©supplied

“The last team was what made me quit Cycling.

“It was the final straw in a really hard time. I was getting some form back but I wasn’t like before my accident. It was in-between operations on my arm.

“I stepped off after winning KOM in a race in the Alps and didn’t sit on a bike for something like six years.

“They were parading me around their sponsors bragging about me riding for the Linda McCartney team while practically stealing my prize money and they hadn’t paid my rent.

“I was quite bitter when I left the sport and I didn’t talk to any cyclist and I didn’t even own a bike.”

I’ve seen it in print that you rode for one of Jean Rene Bernadeau’s teams?

“Well, not quite… it was Team Europcar before it became Bernadeau’s Team Europcar; they stepped in and sponsored me after I lost my lottery funding.”

Your career was curtailed by a bad crash at Lorient – requiring five operations over three years… 

“As per usual these things never happen when you are creeping.

“I was stringing together some great results and I remember calling John Herety who was the GB Manager to tell him about my last four French race results: 8th 4th 6th and a win.

“I started a French stage race and got 3rd in the prologue and took the KOM jersey on stage one.

“On Stage Two I soloed across a large gap to a break with 10 miles to the finish. The last rider heard my freewheel and looked around in surprise. He moved across and took out my front wheel.

“When I came to a halt I tried to push my glasses back on my face but my hand never came near my face, I could see blood jetting up in the air and my white Mountains Classification jersey turning red. When you close your eyes and put your hand in front of your face and open your eyes it’s a shock when it’s not there…

“Eventually I saw the long bone sticking out and I thought my arm was missing. I tried to move and realised the arm was behind my neck folded where it shouldn’t be.

“All my teammates stopped and I still remember the look on their faces.

“My hand was completely paralysed because of nerve damage for about three months after the second operation. It took six months to get it moving properly and my arm has never been able to straighten since.

“In total, I’ve had five operations, some wire, 21 screws, 3 metal plates and a bone graft from my hip.”

Martin Lonie’s arm injury. Photo©supplied

When did you ‘comeback’ after your crash?

“I kept trying to race between operations before quitting in 2003.

“I started cycling again in May 2010 when I hit 15 stone.

“I went into Dooleys Cycles who had always helped and looked after me and got a bike.

“I was in the break in the Dundee Two Day road race six weeks later and won the Billy Warnock 3rd & 4th Cat. race in August that year.”

You were with Clay Cross 2017/18 – why an English team?

“They were the closest team to my brother’s house in the Peak District and I was going out the odd training ride with them. They asked me to join and ride some of the midlands series and stage races with them.

“It was a shame when the team folded.”

Then Nuun-Sigma Sport-London RT this year, again, why an English outfit?

“Cameron Fraser asked me to guest for them in the Masters Mallorca stage race in 2017.

“We dominated the racing with my team mate Robert Moore wining the Overall and me taking the Points jersey.

“I had five man lead-outs for the sprints and we all rode really well to defend the yellow. I get a lot out of helping a team mate and when they win it feels like I’ve won.

“They’re a great bunch of guys and it’s a really great set up, we have all the best sponsors and brands available in the sport.

“It’s nice going to race at all my big events this year knowing I’ll have team mates there.”

Martin Lonie in the Green jersey of Point Classification winner at the Mallorca Masters. Photo©supplied

You’re performances have stepped up this year, what would you attribute that to?

“I’ve been more focused.

“It’s the easiest thing in the world to finish work and be tired so I would go out with the Bundy or a chaingang instead of doing a specific focused training session on the turbo.

“I know an hour on the turbo is better quality than smashing the bunch for two.”

Tell us about your training, do you have a coach?

“I’ve been lucky enough to be coached by Robert Millar, Brian Smith and Shane Sutton over the years.

“Back in the day I did 4000 km in four weeks but now I train about 10-13 hours a week. Trainsharp are one of the team sponsors which I work closely with.

“When I left school I studied sports science and I’ve always been a numbers geek. I do all the training peaks webinars and I’m constantly trying to improve my knowledge.

“I’ve had some success coaching a few riders and it’s really rewarding when I help someone achieve their goals.

“I’ve kept the coaching I do really small and a bit of a secret because it takes a lot of time to do it correctly you have to tailor it to the demands of the specific event or even course and couple that with a riders strength and weaknesses.

“The coaching highlights this year have been seeing my wife, Anna win her first race and seeing Andy Bruce win a British Masters title while setting a British Masters three kilometre individual pursuit record. I can’t wait to see what he can do at the worlds in October.”

Martin Lonie
Martin Lonie riding in the colours of Nuun-Sigma Sport-London RT for 2019. Photo©Ewan Thacker

What’s still ‘To Do’ on the Lonie List in cycling?

“The big target is a Worlds Masters title on the Track in October.

“I have silver and bronze from previous years so hopefully I can complete the set and get a set of masters rainbow stripes.

“I’m also closing in on my 100th win – I don’t count TTs and track races in that total, it’s pretty much just road races, crits and APRs, so I guess it will be nice to do that.”

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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