Wednesday, October 27, 2021
HomeInterviewsFelix English - Scratch Race Winner at the Glasgow Track World Cup

Felix English – Scratch Race Winner at the Glasgow Track World Cup

"Refreshingly, there was no strategy!"


Felix English gets embarrassed by the memory but he is one of the few men to beat Chris Hoy in a match Sprint -back in 2010, in the 1/16th finals of the European Track Championships. 

He was also a UK ‘Crit King’ with the Condor and Madison Genesis teams; winning in places like Otley, Aberystwyth and Beverley – and taking a fourth place in my home town of Kirkcaldy in Fife, Scotland. 

English also has a 2017 World Cup Madison win to his name with Mark Downey, in Los Angeles.

And now he’s popped back up as a World Cup winner again; in Glasgow he beat some very tasty opposition to take the Scratch Race ahead of men like Seb Mora, Ollie Wood and Leigh Howard.

We caught up with Ireland’s Felix English the day after his World Cup success: 

Felix English
Felix English in his yellow ‘tricot’ at the Copenhagen Six Day. Photo©Ed Hood

Was there a strategy for the Scratch going in to Glasgow – or just ‘play it by ear?’

“Refreshingly, there was no strategy! 

“I was tired going into the event after the racing – and crashing in – the Madison the previous night, so we went in happy to ‘play it by ear’. 

“One thing I was taking into this weekend was my hesitation in previous races which I think sometimes comes down to going into the race with a plan!”

Talk us through your race – European Champion Mora is a big scalp to take.

“The race couldn’t have gone any better for me, really. 

“As I said, I was pretty tired after a late night and not much eating in-between the Madison and the Scratch qualifier/final. 

“I stayed attentive early on and managed to avoid doing any work, then was able to see my moment to take a lap with a group of five. 

“I knew the guys were feeling it a bit so I took the moment to go immediately with Ollie Wood (GB) and Michele Scartezzini (Italy) when they attacked to take a second lap, pretty much straight away. 

“From then, I was ahead of the race and with Mora getting his second lap quite late I felt pretty confident that I was going to win.”

Does this result qualify you for The Worlds and the Olympics in Tokyo?

“Unfortunately not; there’s no Scratch in Tokyo but it does push me right back up in the World Rankings, so I’ll be lining up for the World Championships again in March.”

Did you compete in anything else at Glasgow – if so, how did it go?

“I rode the Madison on Saturday night – it was going pretty smoothly until I came down. 

“Mark Downey and I had purposefully ridden a really quiet race and were planning on getting more involved in the last 60 laps. 

“We tried a late attack with the Germans but it wasn’t to be.”

Felix English
Felix English concentrates on Copenhagen’s Ballerup boards. Photo©Ed Hood

Were you at the Minsk World Cup and will you be participating in any others?

“I wasn’t in Minsk but I am heading to Hong Kong, New Zealand and Australia for the next three World Cups.”

Where do you get your track training in Felix? 

“I live and train in Palma, Mallorca.”

Who coaches you?

“I’ve been bouncing between coaches for the past 18 months but the last three or four months I’ve coached myself on the road and Martyn Irvine has been coaching me on the track. 

“This result was a nice confidence boost in believing in myself as a coach!”

I notice you won the Irish Omnium Championship – where is that held?

“It’s run at an outdoor track in Dublin called the Sundrive Velodrome, it’s a big 458.8 metres tarmac track built in the 50’s and resurfaced in 2009.” 

Your Madison partnership with Mark Downey has produced some nice results together…

“Yeah, we’ve had some successes. 

“We’ve started trying to rotate the squad between races now because last year I had a really heavy run of competition. 

“I rode the Europeans followed by five World Cups on the bounce which really took its toll once I hit World Championships.”

2013 to 2016 you were a ‘Crit King’ in the UK – why the change of focus?

“I just got a little tired of it. 

“I’d started riding the track again and saw myself being about to compete with some of the best guys in the world – not something that was on the horizon in my road career! 

“Although I think I’ll be back to racing a few UK Crits through Spring / Summer 2020 with a new team.”

How do you fare for financial support being outside of a team structure?

“I’m a funded athlete with Sport Ireland – similar to the GB setup with their funding. 

“It’s performance based, so we all need to hit certain criteria which then determines the size of your grant.”

We saw you at the now late, lamented Copenhagen Six Day – is that an experience you would like to repeat?

“I loved Copenhagen Six Day, even if I was a little sick. 

“It was tough going straight from Berlin Six Day but I’d definitely like to go back – maybe next year?”

Felix English
Felix English changes with Mark Downey at the Six Days of Berlin in 2018. Photo©Ed Hood

Still on your trusty Felt I see.

“We recently replaced the five or six year-old Felts with … new Felts!” 

“Different paint scheme this time.”

Those green ‘Irish’ Bont shoes look pretty cool

“Yeah, I’m pretty lucky to be sponsored by Bont as (for me anyway) they’re the best shoes on the market, especially on the track.”

Do you still get asked about; ‘that time when you beat Chris Hoy in a sprint?

“Less often but it still happens occasionally. 

“I find it quite embarrassing as it’s not something that’s easy to be proud of, ha ha! 

“I tend to laugh it off…”

Here at VeloVeritas, we’ll keep an eye on the forthcoming World Cups for Felix in the results.

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.

Related Articles

Eddie Dunbar joins Team Sky

Team Sky are delighted to announce the immediate signing of Eddie Dunbar. Dunbar, who is set to make his Team Sky debut on Saturday at Coppa Agostoni, has agreed a deal to the end of the 2019 season. The Irishman, 22, was contracted to Aqua Blue Sport for the 2018 season, but – following the closure of the team – Aqua Blue and the UCI have granted Dunbar permission to leave his contract early and sign for Team Sky.

Conor Henry – no one expected the 21 year-old from Belfast to win the 1992 Milk Race

The 12 day, 13 stage British ‘Milk Race’ of 1992 was a pro-am affair with Belgian hard men Collstrop – who won four stages including the opening TTT; talented home pros from Banana-Met; the Danish National squad; the Belgian National team; a squad form CIS, the Commonwealth of Independent States – formerly the Soviet Union and the Netherlands National team to name but seven. And a team from Ireland; but no one expected 21 year-old Conor Henry from Belfast to defy some of the best riders in Europe to take final victory. Here’s his story...

Aidan Duff – Part Two; Moving from Riding to Selling to Manufacturing with Fifty One Bikes

In Part One of our interview with Irish rider Aidan Duff we heard about his six years based in Nantes, three of them riding for Jean Rene Bernadeau's top flight Vendee U squad, his experiences riding with Thomas Voeckler in the team, and his wins in the Herald Sun Tour and Tour of Brittany.  We continue our chat by asking Aidan why he stopped racing and how he moved into the business side of the game, as well as the unusual methods involved in producing his custom-sized carbon fibre frames and bike builds...

Frank Quinn – Manager to Roche and Kelly Talks Wheeling and Dealing

The Irish duo of Sean Kelly and Stephen Roche won virtually every major race on the calendar: The Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, Vuelta a Espana, Tour of Romandie, Tour de Suisse, Paris-Nice – Kelly an impossible seven consecutive times - Pais Vasco, Catalunya, Criterium International, World Road Race Championship, Tour of Lombardy, Milan-Sanremo, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Paris-Roubaix... Apart from the nation of their birth and talent, the two men have another common denominator; they were both managed by Dubliner, Mr. Frank Quinn.

Ryan Mullen – Silver Medallist in the World U23 Time Trial Championship

Ryan Mullen’s (Ireland & AN Post) progress through the sport has been little short of meteoric. Mullen won a superb silver medal in the Worlds U23 TT in last year's Championships in Ponferrada with only a heartbreaking 0.48 seconds behind Aussie winner, Campbell Flakemore – who’s now with BMC. We caught up with the Irish flyer early in the New Year as he returned from stocking up at the supermarket in Mallorca where he’s training with the Irish track squad.

Shay O’Hanlon – Irish Rás Multi-Record Holder

Ireland’s ‘Rás,’ a cult bike race; Marcin Bialoblocki, Tony Martin, Stephen Roche and Scotland’s own Jamie McGahan number among the GC winners. So who’s...

At Random

Le Tour de France 2017 – Stage 3: Verviers – Longwy, 212.5km. Peter Sagan is just too strong

Peter Sagan’s quote of the day? “What is pressure?” As team mate Marcus Burghardt said; “he was such power in his head and that’s what makes the difference.” Despite pulling his foot in the sprint at the top of that nasty finish climb he was just too quick for everyone...

Dean Downing – Exceeding Expectations

One good thing to come out of the washed-out British Madison championship at Meadowbank over the weekend was that there was plenty of time for VeloVeritas to talk to one of Britain's best roadmen, Dean Downing. The 32 year-old from Rotherham had originally intended to kill two birds with one stone; ride the champs and show his fiancee the sights of Edinburgh. The way it worked out, his fiancee had a wedding dress fitting and the race was rained-off. Never mind, he got to talk to us instead.

Charlie Quarterman – National ’10’ Champion and a Two Year Contract with Trek Segafredo

It’s been a big week for 20 year-old Oxford man, Charlie Quarterman; he won the British 10 mile time trial championship, promoted under Cycling Time Trial rules and just days later it was announced he has a stagiaire ride with Trek Segafredo for the remainder of 2019 running through into a two year contract.

Bryan Steel – One of the Original World Class GB Team Pursuiters

We’d expected to be able to hang this interview on another English team pursuit gold in Glasgow – but not so. And for the first time since 2009 the GB team failed to make the podium in the track Worlds back in the spring – probably no big deal in the overall scheme of things where The Olympics are what really count to BC these days. How times change. The GB team pursuit Renaissance began in 2000 in Manchester, and Bryan Steel was an important part.

Brian Temple – Scotland’s First Commonwealth Games Cycling Medallist

Brian is the man who won Scotland’s first cycling medal back in 1970 when the Commonwealth Games came to Edinburgh for the first time. Australia and England were the top cycling nations in the competition with riders like Englishman Ian Hallam (who won the pursuit) and Australian John Nicholson (who won the sprint) and were expected to dominate the 10 mile; but a break comprising Vernon Stauble (Trinidad), Jocelyn Lovell (Canada) and Temple sneaked away from the Big Guns and stayed away.

Close Run Thing (TdF 2012 Stage 5)

Close Run Thing... the “Guaranteed” Bunchie that I mentioned yesterday did indeed eventuate on stage 5 today, but it was looking touch-and-go as to whether they’d be sprinting for the win, or lower placings! People always ask why teams get into a break if they know they’re only going to be caught in the lead-up to the bunch sprint, and today’s stage was a great example of the answer: you never know.