As the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games roll ever closer we continue our series of interviews with the riders who will represent Scotland on the Lee Valley ‘Pringle’ boards in London for the track racing – and the roads around Wolverhampton for the Individual Time Trial and Warwick for the Road Race.
Ellie Stone is reigning British 500 metre Time Trial and Keirin champion – but despite these successes she’ll not be riding either event, rather piloting a tandem in the para cycling events; the Kilometre Time Trial on Sunday July 31st and the Match Sprint on Friday 29th July.
The 21 years-old originally from Aviemore is now Glasgow-based to be close to the velodrome and she took time to speak to VeloVeritas recently.
You were originally a runner, Ellie?
“Yes, I was a sprint hurdler but I transitioned to cycling as a result of a ‘talent transfer’ scheme organised by UK Sport; they test you and establish if there’s another sport you’d be better suited to.
“They said I had good power and the potential to be a good cyclist – I jumped at the opportunity because I was going to be working with coaches at the highest level, people who had coached Olympic champions, riders like Chris Hoy.
“I’d been running for eight or nine years but hadn’t reached the highest level so when the cycling opportunity came along I was happy to make the move.”
What was your first time on a velodrome like?
“That was on Manchester where the programme was based, it was a little scary but I was riding round thinking I’d like to go faster, the coach gave me the nod and I just went for it, I really liked the speed – track cycling is so much faster than running!”
You’re British 500m TT and Keirin champion but not riding those events in the Games?
“Yes, but my times didn’t qualify for me those events at the Games.
“However, my coach said to me that I have the physicality to handle the tandem events and on May 3rd of this year I did my first rides on the tandem.”
Tell us about that first tandem ride…
“Well, it was pretty hard…
“I tried out on the front and the back; when I was ‘stoking’ I had to keep my eyes shut – you have such an impulse to steer the thing!”
Which events will you be riding and who’s your partner?
“We ride the two para events – the Kilometre Time Trial and the Match Sprint.
“I’m paired with Aileen McGlynn.
“Libby Clegg is also riding the para events on the tandem, her pilot is Jenny Holl.
“We’ve been fitting training in around my work over the last five weeks.”
You’re not a full time athlete then?
“Not now, I have a job at Tesco but the shifts are good, they allow me to fit my training in.
“I was with British Cycling but now I’m with Scottish Cycling who provide subsidised accommodation, which helps the financial side of things.
“They also provide coaching and training facilities.”
Who’s your coach?
“David Daniell is our coach until the Games when he’s joining British Cycling on the ‘podium’ programme.”
I believe you do some athletics coaching?
“I still enjoy athletics and felt it would be good if I could help out, try and assist with instilling confidence into young athletes.
“I approached my local athletics club about helping them and they were happy to have me on board.”
How does your tandem training differ from your solo preparation?
“There’s more volume.
“I’m used to training for the 500 metres TT but on the tandem we’ll be riding double that distance so I’ve been doing more road work, exploring Glasgow on my road bike.
“And in the weight room I’ve upped the repetitions.
“Then there’s the aspect of getting used to the machine; we trained on the tri-bars for the first time recently and did work behind the motorbike.”
Have you had much experience of Match Sprinting on the tandem?
“The Games will be our first race experience but we’re doing a lot of drills in training.”
Have you ridden the Lee Valley track?
“Once, as part of my talent transfer experience – but I believe Glasgow is the steepest track in the UK and I’m comfortable on there so that’s not a worry.”
What’s the plan between now and the Games?
“We’ll be concentrating on ‘length’ in training, to handle the Kilometre distance but with two or three weeks to go we’ll be freshening up, concentrating more on speed.”
Your goals for the Games, Ellie?
“I’d like to win a medal; it’s Aileen’s last Games so it would be nice for her to go out with a medal – I think we have a pretty good chance.
“But apart from that I’d just like to enjoy the experience of being part of it all.”
And is Paris and the para events at the Olympics 2024 something you’ve thought about?
“We’ll see how the Games go next month first, I think!”
As with all of the team, VeloVeritas wishes Ellie and Aileen every success at the Games.