I’ll always remember in 2012 when I first got selected and joined the Great Britain cycling academy. I was coached by a well-known name of the sport, Chris Newton. I respected him straight away, not only because he was my coach but because of his achievements in cycling. He has ‘been there and done that’ in everything – the Olympics, World Championships, World Cups and more. I first saw him when I was a child at the Velodrome, I used to watch the ‘Revolution’ cycling events and thought he was a machine.
I moved into my flat in 2012 with little Simon (Simon Yates, Orica Greenedge) and one of my first big races was an U23 Nations Cup in Zeeland, Netherlands. I came 20th, I was pretty happy with this as it was the longest I’ve ever ridden on a bike and it turned out to be a good result for my age. To be honest I was happy to finish the race, never mind do a decent ride. Afterwards, I sat in the car with my coach, Chris, we spoke about the race and he praised me for my performance.
A few weeks earlier I had completed a lab test and had impressed Chris by being quite powerful. I was pretty chubby (for a cyclist) and had a lot of room for improvement. Chris advised me that, if I lowered my body fat percentage, improved endurance and put power out in the finale of future bike races, then I’d win an awful lot of races.
It takes years of hard work on the bike to build up your endurance. People say cycling is an “old man’s sport” and you get better as you get older, as you will have trained a lot more. I’m still in this process, I struggle a bit with getting lean as I’m quite big and do like food but it’s part of being a cyclist and part of the job. As I’ve got older and matured, I think about what Chris said and apply it every day.