The top 20 of the recent, hard fought GP Monsere in Belgium saw a name familiar to VeloVeritas but unsung in the UK take a fine top 20 placing in the company of top opposition: Ollie Robinson, who we interviewed last year.
He’s now with a Ukrainian UCI Continental team, Lviv so we thought a catch up chat was well in order.
Let’s go back to season 2018 and Team Wiggins, how did you get the ride and what was the highlight of the season?
“Team Wiggins was an amazing experience and I learned a lot there.
“I was asked to ride for the team by our DS when I was in my last season as a junior.
“I had some good results and they said they wanted me in the team.
“The highlight of the 2018 season was getting third place in a pro kermis where second place went to one of my idols, Sep Vanmarcke.
“I remember lining up on the start line and being overwhelmed to even being in the same race, let alone complete.”
Season 2019, your second season with Wiggins, how did that go?
“My second season with Wiggins wasn’t amazing, I didn’t achieve what I wanted to that season.
“I had some good races but not as good as I was hoping for.
“I did enjoy the time we spent in Belgium at the end of the season however, we had a lot of fun then.”
Season 2020 and Indulek Doltcini Derito, how did you get that ride and what was the team like?
“At the end of the 2019 season I was looking for a ride because the Wiggins team folded.
“As I hadn’t got many results in the 2019 season it was quite hard for me to find a ride.
“I always wanted to race in Belgium and live there for the year so I started sending emails to Belgium teams; Indulek Doltcini Derito stood out to me because a lot of British riders had ridden for them and their calendar was good.
“So I was lucky enough that Pascal at Indulek Doltcini Derito wanted me in the team.”
Before the 2020 lockdown you had some nice results, remind us about them.
“Yes, I had a good start to the season last year, I was feeling strong in the first few races.
“Unfortunately I only got to ride four races before lockdown happened; my best results being fifth in a pro kermis where I spent the day in the break and then second in another kermis.
“I felt like I could always be on the attack in the early season.”
How was the lockdown period for you?
“Apart from not racing I really enjoyed the lockdown period, it allowed me to things that I wouldn’t have been able to do if racing was on.
“I did a few rides with friends that I would class as ‘epics’; we were able to plan massive rides to places we wouldn’t usually go.
“The best ride was when we decided to do 320 km (200 miles), this was actually only decided the night before so in the evening we were rushing to make sure we had eaten enough and bike was ready.
“This was probably the best ride I have ever completed, just a couple of mates doing a big hack.
“We ended up doing 400 km because… well, why not?”
How did the post lockdown races go?
“The races after lockdown weren’t great, I didn’t have much luck with them, crashes playing a big part.
“We did this one race that had plenty of gravel and cobbled sections, the weather was awful and I crashed three times and came back to the peloton each time.
“I didn’t get any results but I had a lot of fun living with some really good guys.”
This year, season 2021 and Lviv Continental, a Ukrainian team. How did you get that ride and tell us what the team is like?
“I was actually going to stay with Indulek Doltcini Derito until around Christmas when I got a call from Luc the Lviv team DS.
“He said that they were looking for one more rider to complete the team and they wanted me.
“I was over the moon to get back into a Continental-level team and doing some big races.”
Where are you based and what’s the setup?
“The team is Ukrainian registered but is actually based in Belgium, with most of the staff from there.
“This is really good as I’m used to living in Belgium and I love to race in here.
“The team is setup to support younger riders and help them move up in the sport so it’s a perfect fit for me.
“As I’m the only Brit in the men’s team I was very nervous about joining but as soon as I met my team mates I was fine.
“My team mates are amazing and we are having a great time so far.”
Tell us about your coaching arrangements…
“For last two years I have coached myself, I think a coach would probably help me but I haven’t looked for one.
“But coaching myself is good, I know what I need to be doing and how to get fit for the races; I know my weaknesses and strengths more than anyone so I can plan my training around improving my weakness and strengthening my strengths.”
Your top 20 in the recent GP J-P Monseré was a nice result, tell us about that.
“Yes, that was a really good surprise for me.
“I went into the race not knowing how I would go because my winter training wasn’t great having had an injury which meant I was way below where I wanted to be.
“I was able to save energy in the race and the finish was pretty hectic. I tried to get myself in a good position but it was hard on my own.
“I managed to end up with 17th though, which I was really happy with as I’m not at my top fitness yet.”
The race looked a bit of a ‘crash fest’?
“Yes, it sure was!
“I think it was because the race wasn’t too hard and everyone had plenty of energy at the end so more people were taking risks to get in a good position.
“I was lucky enough to avoid all the crashes, I think what helped do that was this year I’m on disc brakes.”
What other races have you ridden this season and how does the programme look now?
“The next race – Liege-Bastogne-Liege u23 – is a while away because most of our races have been cancelled due to the Covid restrictions.
“It’s going to be super-hard and it doesn’t really suit me but I’ll give it a good go.
“We have a lot of good races to do later in the season when hopefully the restrictions have ended.
“I’m really looking forward to the stage races.”
What’s season 2021 about?
“It’s about getting some good results, this being my last year in the u23 I have some big goals and I’m really motivated after my first race.
“I would really love to move up to the next level in 2022 so this season is all about showing myself.”