Scottish professional bike riders are a bit thin on the ground so when we heard that 20 year-old Fifer, Joe Nally – who’s the youngest man ever to win the British Elite Points Race Championship – had signed with Vitus Pro Cycling for 2020 we thought we best ‘have a word.’
We caught up with Joe recently at his training base in Tenerife where he was on a two week block of base rides.
We last spoke to you in January of this year, Joe – you were on the British Cycling Senior Academy, year two.
“No more Academy for me; around this time last year I decided I was done with the team pursuit.
“It was pointless because they have such a pool of talent, I felt that my chances of being selected for major championships were slim. My coach backed my decision and I changed my focus to the road.”
Are you happy with how 2019 went?
“It was a pretty long season, the highlight of which was my 12th place on Stage One of the Tour of Yorkshire.
“We were up the road all day but didn’t quite pull it off.”
How was it jousting with those World Tour guys?
“On that stage it felt normal but I have to say that in the Tour of Britain when you’re riding alongside real legends of the sport you’re thinking; ‘Whoa!’
“But in the Tour of Yorkshire in the break it was with Pro-Conti guys so it was something I was used to – we only got caught 50 metres from the line that day.”
“I’d be interested, of course and wouldn’t turn down the opportunity but everyone has different interests and it might be pretty difficult to pull everyone together?”
Last time we spoke you’d just had some nice results on the track at Grenchen in Switzerland at the UCI meet where John Archibald rode a 4:10 pursuit; don’t you miss the excitement of the velodrome?
“I do and I don’t… if you’re going well it’s an amazing arena, but it’s not so much fun if you’re getting your head kicked in!
“The other aspect is that if you’re on the Academy track squad, all through the winter you’re under pressure to produce times.
“I’m enjoying this more relaxed build up to my road season.”
We were looking at your results for 2019, it looked like maybe you could have raced a bit more?
“I felt good in January and February, I had the best form I’ve ever had at that time of year.
“But the first race of the year – the weekend with all the storms – I crashed and had to observe a post-concussion protocol, just easy riding.
“Ironically, the race I crashed in ended up being abandoned.
“I rode the Volta ao Alentejo in Portugal in March then some races in The Netherlands and Belgium but was struggling with illness.
“Then it was Yorkshire in early May and by the end of the month I was wrecked.
“I was supposed to be riding the Baby Giro but there was no point given my lack of form.
“It’s been a season to forget; but with lots of lessons learned along the way.”
How did the ride with Vitus Pro Cycling come about?
“With not having the results with the Academy I knew I had to look for a team, I was in contact with Cherie Pridham (Team Owner and Manager) at Vitus and the move has been in the works for a few months.”
We were looking at the team roster for 2020, so far just eight riders on the books for Vitus – down from 14 last year…
“There are still signings to come, you need a minimum of 10 riders to register as a UCI Continental team.”
How do you feel about the UK ‘crit-based’ programme that the team will doubtless pursue?
“It’s true we’ll be largely UK based but I think we will have opportunities abroad – and it’s not just about criteriums, we’ll be riding the Premier Calendar series road races.
“I’m hoping to learn the ropes in those races from the more experienced guys on the squad.
Will you be moving down south to live?
“No, I’m going to continue to stay in Scotland and travel to races – I get a lot of support from Cycling Scotland.”
Did you consider a move to the continent rather than a GB based team?
“Yes, I did, and I had opportunities in France but didn’t think the upheaval was worth it; I believe I can get good opportunities at home.”
Have you got the team machine and clothing yet?
“I get my bike soon.
“We have a team ride at Derby this month and then we’ll be having a formal team get-together and training camp.”
How’s the training going?
“I had a longer break than usual, this year – I was off the bike for five or six weeks as opposed to the usual couple of weeks.
“But I felt a needed a break to recharge my batteries.
“I’ve been on the bike now for six weeks or so with the last two here in Tenerife.”
What’s 2020 about?
“Making a name for myself; trying to get some wins; building my confidence and getting people talking about me.
“The last race I won was my last as a junior – so I need to put that right!”
VeloVeritas will keep more of an eye than usual on the UK criterium scene in 2020 and wishes Joe a successful season.