Oscar Onley.

It was back in August when we last spoke to Oscar Onley, with an end to lockdown in sight he was looking forward to resuming racing with his Van Rysel AG2R La Mondiale team.

However, Covid restrictions played havoc with amateur race programmes across Europe and his race schedule wasn’t the one he would have liked, albeit he performed well in a couple of mountain time tests.

The good news though is that for season 2021 he’ll be riding with World Tour Team Sunweb’s u23 development team.

The press release said:

“Hailing from Scotland, in his first year as a junior in 2019 Onley picked up a string of solid top ten results on the British domestic scene but also overseas in France. 

“He followed up seventh place on GC at the Ain Bugey Valromey Tour with eighth in Aubel-Thimister-Staevlot and as the best first-year junior at the Chrono des Nations time trial, where he showed his power over the mostly flat course. 

“Racing has been sparse for Onley in 2020 but he recently caught the attention of many with his win at Tour de Savoie Mont Blanc cycle sportive, a mountain time trial that took place on the same course as the final stage of the elite men’s race of the same name. 

Onley’s time on the mountain would have placed him in 11th place on the stage if he took part in the race, highlighting his future potential on the longer ascents.”

The man himself said;

One of my main motivations to join Development Team Sunweb is that it will be the best environment for me to develop into a well-rounded rider on and off the bike. 

I chose Team Sunweb due to their forward way of thinking around technology and always striving for the best in everything they do. 

I’m looking forward to learning from all the experts on the team as well as my teammates in the different races we do. 

My main goal for the coming year is to learn how these races work and hopefully confirm what type of rider I can become in the future.’

VeloVeritas caught up with him shortly after the announcement was made.

Oscar Onley. Photo©Gus Sev Photographe

Congratulations, Oscar how did the ride come about?

“My coach at Scottish Cycling, Evan Oliphant got in touch to tell me that someone from Sunweb had contacted wanting information about me.

“I did some power tests on the road for them; one, five and twenty minute efforts and it all stemmed from there.”

We were a little surprised, we thought you’d have another year with Van Rysel AG2R La Mondiale?

“I sat down with Evan last October and discussed with him what I’d like from this year and coming to Chambery sounded good but I wanted to keep my options open and when Sunweb approached it was too good an offer to refuse.

“I was happy at Chambery and enjoyed my time there, a great experience, meeting and training with the French guys and learning a bit of the language.”

Where will you be based with Sunweb?

“I’ll be based at the Sunweb ‘Keep Challenging’ campus in Sittard, Limburg where they have great facilities; coaches, nutritionists a gym…

“That’s one of the things which attracted me to the team, they’re so forward thinking and open to new ideas.”

So the team takes over your coaching?

“Yes but I’ll still be affiliated to Scottish Cycling so I can us the gym facilities here or speak to a doctor or soigneur.

“The team email me my spreadsheet schedules and I shoot videos of my activities, the information is all there for the nutritionists and specialist coaches to see.”

Oscar Onley
Oscar kept busy during lockdown with various training ideas. Photo©supplied

Have you started your winter training yet?

“I’ve made a steady start these last couple of weeks, long, steady miles twice or three times each week with gym twice each week.

“In Kelso here in the Scottish Borders we’re at ‘tier two’ on the lockdown scale which means I can use the gym freely.

“I’ve been concentrating on other aspects too – stretching and eating properly.” 

Do you have an idea of your programme yet?

“Not yet but the team’s usual system is to mail out the programme two months in advance so you know what you’re doing well in advance but because of the current situation that may change to just a month in advance.”

When’s the first team get together?

“I don’t have a firm date yet but there will be a training camp in Spain in January.

“We had a video meet the other week where I met all the other riders on the team and the staff too, on line.”

When do you get your bike?

I’m not sure, there are a lot of restrictions in place at the moment regarding transport but I guess they’ll be shipping it out to me; we’ll be riding Scott Addicts.” 

Oscar Onley
Oscar Onley is switching from Van Rysel to Scott Addict machinery. Photo©supplied

Tell us about your ride in the Tour de Savoie Mont Blanc sportive time trial.

“The French Junior Squad for the Worlds were riding the event for training – that was prior to their Worlds getting cancelled – it was from Aix les Bains to La Revard, 15.4 kilometres.

“I posted a time that would have given me 11th place in the Elite race.”

[US rider Gavin Mannion (Rally Cycling) won the stage in the race with a time of 54:48 from noted French climber Pierre Rolland (B&B Hotels – Vital Concept) with another Scottish Borders rider, Stuart Balfour in seventh place, ed.]

We noted you were second in Uriage – Chamrouse?

“That was another uphill time trial, a steep one over 16.8 kilometres; the climb was the Col de Chamrousse which has featured in the Tour de France in the past, I was 15 seconds down on the guy who won it.”

You have an unusual combination of skillsets – climber and time trial rider?

“My passion for the future is to be a GC rider and to be a successful one you have to be a good time trial rider.

“It’s something I’ll be working on and seeking to improve during my time with Sunweb.”

Did you manage to dip under 20 minutes for a ‘10’ yet? 

“Yes, I rode a CTT event at Cramlington on unrestricted gears and recorded 19:41.”

Oscar Onley
Oscar Onley is a great time triallist. Photo©Gus Sev Photographe

What’s season 2021 about?

“The first part of the year is about getting back into the swing of road racing, it’s a year since I rode one; and learning about racing at the u23 level, we’ll be riding a mix of one day races and French stage races.

“And of course, I’ll be riding to help the older riders get results for the team.”

We’ll be observing with interest, great to see a young man’s dreams coming to fruition.