If you check the palmarès websites, Neah Evans‘ name first pops up in 2015 – just four years later and she’s performing at world level in ladies’ track cycling as part of the GB ladies team pursuit squad; with her most recent successes coming in the European Team Pursuit Championships and Glasgow World Cup where her squad took gold on both occasions.
High time we had a word…
Tell us about your Tour of Scotland experience please, Neah.
“It was my one and only road race this season.
“The weather on the first day unfortunately caused it to be abandoned before anything really started to kick off.
“The second stage was a disappointment for me, I was targeting the sprints.
“Although I won the first sprint, I then totally over-relaxed on the climb, not wanting to over-exert myself and I found myself in a small group which had been distanced.
“This is where lack of racing cost me and rather than bridging over I waited for us to join the main bunch – which never happened.
“I then had about 100 km to realise what an idiot I had been.”
And you came down on the last stage?
“Yes, it was a tad damp again on the final stage and I was caught up in one of the crashes – I managed a lovely somersault over the ‘bars!
“I wasn’t very happy by this point but managed to stay at the front of the race, I think I finished in the top 20 in this stage and I was just beginning to figure out road racing again.
“Overall I was pleased with my form but my lack of road racing really showed.
“It was a very well organised event and it was a pleasure to race on home roads despite the tricky weather conditions.”
And the London Six Day, which you and Katie Archibald won…
“This is always a lot of fun and this year was no different, although the Friday night didn’t go as smoothly as I would have liked.
“Racing the Madison with Katie really was a blast.
“The format was slightly different than before, aligning slightly more to the men’s racing.
“This meant we won the overall team victory rather than individual placings.
“It will be interesting to see how the format evolves over time.”
Riding in the Glasgow World Cup must have been special?
“It’s such a cliché to say but for me riding at Glasgow is always very special especially at this level of event.
“It’s where it all started for me.
“I love riding in front of big crowds and especially with such an electric atmosphere that we had at Glasgow.”
It must be nice to pull on those European Team Pursuit Champion skinsuits?
“I still feel a sense of pride riding for Great Britain and getting to do it as European Champion just magnifies this.
“Definitely helps my ‘race-day lift’.”
In Team Pursuit qualifying do you ride to a schedule – how is it set?
“Yes, pretty much; in training we will do a few shorter efforts around what we think is achievable and discuss from there.
“We finalise on race day what we want our coach, Paul Manning to ‘walk.’
“We don’t always stick to it but it’s a good starting point.”
The team produced a 4:12 ride – that’s quick; world record is 4:10, that must be a goal?
“Absolutely, but there will be a lot of other teams with a similar one, I suspect.”
A lot of other nations are raising their game in the event – is that because the Olympics are coming up?
“Probably, for us it’s what we have our sights on… I imagine other nations will be in the same position.
“It’s quite fun because you’re starting to see new equipment used in racing, which definitely helps raise the standard.”
The Omnium at Glasgow; a win in the Tempo event but a crash in the Points Race, what happened – and was the podium possible?
“It wasn’t a great night for me.
“I went into the Points believing I could achieve a podium.
“Unfortunately my front wheel was taken out by someone dropping down and there was nothing I could do.
“I bashed my knee up pretty badly and just tried to survive but my race was ruined…
“I couldn’t sprint as hard as normal and I couldn’t get enough of a gap to go for a lap.
“It was so frustrating to not be in the mix due to crash, I had good form but that didn’t matter after the crash.”
Will the Omnium and Team Pursuit be your events at The Worlds?
“I would love that but we will make selection nearer the event.
“As a squad we have huge strength in depth which means selection is tricky.
“It’s a double edge sword; it’s hard to make the cut but if you do then you know you’re going well…”
Isn’t it difficult to train for the Team Pursuit and the Omnium, given the endurance element in the latter?
“As a squad we focus mainly on Team Pursuit; I hadn’t done any specific training for the Omnium in Glasgow and just used the Six Day as a ‘hit out’.”
How do you handle the constant competitiveness within the team – everyone will want to go to Tokyo?
“It is tricky, we are all super-competitive and very driven – else we would have never made it this far.
“Personally, I just keep my head down and do my training.
“I have to trust that the selection is based on picking the strongest squad, so my focus is on being as strong as I can be.”
Does management tell you what they require from you to get to the Worlds and/or Tokyo?
“Yes, we are given targets of where they would like us to be in terms of training numbers but they are only targets and are constantly evolving…
So, for example, if I become a lot more aerodynamic then the required power will drop.”
Hong Kong, New Zealand and Australia World Cups coming up, which will you be riding and in what events?
“None of those; we are in a big training block at the moment and I’m currently in Spain on a training camp, coming back before Christmas.”
Have you ridden one of the new ‘Bat Bikes‘ yet – they look radical.
“Not yet, I am not the tallest of people and so far there hasn’t been a small enough one for me to try…
“I’m very much looking forward to trying one – I’ve heard lots of good reviews!”
What’s on the Neah ‘to do’ list for 2020?
“The Olympics. Everything else is afterthought or to help prepare for Tokyo.
“I’ve never experienced an Olympic cycle before and I’m really looking forward to all the camps and the whole build-up.
“Getting selection will be hard so I don’t want to try and do other things which may deflect from this.
“If I don’t make it then I’ll turn to the road and especially time trialling – after a bit of a disaster at the national TT I would like to try and remedy that.”
VeloVeritas wishes Neah every success in achieving her goal of Olympic selection.