What's Cool In Road Cycling

PEZ-Talk: McCallum At The Tour Of Britain

As well as the Vuelta and the Tour of Polska, there’s also a Tour blasting around Britain at the moment; it even comes to Bonnie Scotland. British Criterium champion and Commonwealth Games medallist, Scotsman James McCallum from the British, Plowman Craven Associates Pro team, will be spending some of his ‘transfer time’, talking to PEZ.

PEZ: Tell us a little about the British pro scene, James.

James: It’s on the way up, now. Next season there will be five or six full-time teams. The money is filtering down from British Cycling, (the Federation), which receives a lot of assistance from the National Lottery. Some of the racing has been televised on Eurosport, which doesn’t do any harm, but I still think that there’s room for it to develop, particularly the criteriums scene, they’re made for the TV.

PEZ: You’re coming back from injury, aren’t you?

James: Yes, I gave my ankle a really bad sprain, I had a thing like an elephant’s foot, for two weeks. It meant that I had to pull out of the Tour of Ireland.

PEZ: I see that your team has recently introduced a programme of blood tests for the riders, does that imply we have a problem in Britain?

James: I don’t think so, but you’re never certain, are you? Our team has introduced it to show that we are doing our bit to show that we’re all ‘clean’. It’s good PR, the media are usually all over cyclng and the ‘drugs thing’, so it’s good to show that we are doing something positive.

PEZ: How was the prologue?

James: A nitemare! I pulled-away from the start and was immediately aware that there was something not right. I looked-down and saw I’d pulled my wheel, I tried to kick it back into line, but as I was riding, it was just jamming-up tighter and tighter. Eventually I had to stop and straighten it. I lost 55 seconds and I heard, after the race that one of the commissars wanted to eliminate me, because I’d lost so much time. Fortunately, there were pictures around of me having the problem and no more was said.

PEZ: Stage one wasn’t great either, was it?

James: No, I had a good stage, but then punctured with around six K to go, I had to negotiate a roundabout on the front rim, as I was waiting on the team car coming up. I got the change, but just as I was kicking away, all I could see was guys crashing – it was mayhem. The team cars started zooming-up and there were doors getting flung open everywhere – so I decided just to ride in safely. The race route has been picturesque, but when you’re on the road with cows and horses – well, maybe that’s too picturesque!

PEZ: Today was better?

James: Yes, there were some big, big hills today; in fact some of the climbs that weren’t even classified were as hard as the K o M climbs. It was very up and down, you were going from 53 x 11 to 39 x 23 in no time. I got in a solid group with Nico. Mattan and a couple of the Tinkovs, so that was good. I’m not sure who won, or got the jersey (Trusov of Tinkov, on both counts), but it’s not Cavendish, he lost six minutes today. (Cavendish won the prologue and stage one)

PEZ: Who’s impressing?

James: Ian Stannard, the English lad, who’s riding stagiere for T-Mobile, he’s doing a power of work for them – never off the front.

PEZ: Has it been a good race for Plowman Craven Associates, so far?

James: I think so, we’ve been making ourselves obvious, getting in moves and showing the name. That’s what it’s about, isn’t it? Marketing and making people aware of us. The team is in good shape, they all benefited from the Tour of Ireland experience. When you first line-up against T-Mobile and Tinkov, it’s a bit daunting, but you soon get used to it and get down to racing them.

PEZ: What was the team’s goal at the start?

James: The race hadn’t gone the way we thought it would, we expected a big break to go on stage one, but it didn’t. If it had, we would have been with it; like I said, we’re here to get our sponsor’s better-known to a wider public.

That’s pro-attitude, and we like that at Pez – James will be talking to us again, on Thursday.

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