What's Cool In Road Cycling

Tongey Talks!

This is the first in a series of chats with Chris Tonge, a young pro from Scotland in his second “paid” season on the continent. Chris rides for the Division II Belgian team – RDM-Flanders, and you can see their website at https://www.rdm-flanders.com.

PCN 1. Chris we really appreciate your time to answer our “burning” questions…

What are your main objectives for the season?

CT – I would hope that in my second season as a professional I would see an improvement in performance due to the experience gained last year plus the training I put in during the winter months. I don’t really set specific targets other than to give every race my 100% commitment and effort for the team.

PCN 2. What type of preparation have you done to get ready for this season?

CT – This winter was only my second winter I’ve been able to train full time so I’ve changed my programme almost every year as I get to know what’s right for me. I never really stopped as such from the end of last season as I started gym work at the end of October. My road training started in December when I went out to stay with my good friend Alastair Hamilton and his family in Spain for two months. The terrain and weather make it a perfect base for early season training plus Alastair and Oliva where fantastic as all I had to do was concentrate on the pedalling as they did everything else for me. There’s not many flat roads around there so you’re working on strength the whole time, plus I focused on lots of big gear work on the climbs so to improve in this area. After the two months there I’d racked up 6000km. From there I joined my team RDM Car Systems-Flanders for a week training camp in the Ardennes and directly from there a week in Lloret for some more training, before heading back to Belgium for the season opener Het Volk. I started my first race with 8534km pre-season kilometres in my legs which was excellent.

PCN 3. How has your season progressed so far?

CT – I’ve certainly seen a big improvement on last season and I’ve been lucky enough to ride every classic here apart from Tour of Flanders (team not selected) and fulfilled one goal to finish the Three Days of De Panne, so I’m happy with things so far this season. The team has had a terrific start to the year with two wins and several top tens in the big races this spring and I’m proud to have played a part in that success.

PCN 4. Which of the 3 Grand Tours is your favourite and why?

CT – To tell you the truth I don’t really pay much attention to the Grand Tours as I’ve always been doing my own racing when they’re on. I’ve never really sat and watched them on TV other than to see the highlights on an evening news or something, so to say I had a favourite would be difficult.

PCN 5. How did you get started in bicycle racing and what motivated you to become a professional bike racer?

CT – After University I had several serious jobs all of which seemed a little too serious and committed at the time so I ended up doing something completely different, a cycle courier in Edinburgh. This was my first introduction to bike riding and I loved it, even though the weather and 10hr days sometimes made things difficult in Scotland. Through the couriers I meet lots of new friends who where seriously into cycling and racing, namely John & Andrew @ The Bicycle Works. It was due to these influences over the 2 years that I finally decided to give racing a go and made the step to riding as an amateur in Belgium. The first year in 1999 I came here with little specific training other than courier work and a few races in Scotland. It was unbelievable. I was completely blown away by the whole thing, the racing culture, riders, spectators and the standard of the competition. I returned home to Scotland after that first summer with lots of plans and was lucky enough to be able to go part time at the couriers so enabling me to train for my next trip. Train I did and on returning the next season I started getting some decent results which to cut a long story short led to me being offered a Professional contract for the season 2001. It sounds easy when you put it down like that but I did have to work exceptionally hard to get myself up the levels and there’s been a lot of suffering over the last 4 years!!

PCN 6. What do you learn as a professional racer that is valuable in other areas of your life?

CT – I think riding a bike is similar to many of life’s experiences and I think for me it’s been an advantage having been to University as it’s a very similar working ethic. You’re pretty much your own boss and it’s a will inside that can only drive you to excellence, no one else. If you don’t really WANT it then you’ll always cut corners and as a result your performance won’t be what it should. It’s clichй but what you put in to the sport is ultimately what you get back, and that’s at every level. Plus I suppose in everything we do in life.

PCN 7. If you were not a professional racer, what do you think you would be doing?

CT – Who knows? I suppose I could have been working in the Oil Industry or still delivering packages around the streets of Edinburgh. But I’m not, I’m a bike rider and I’m certainly going to make the most of it while it lasts!

PCN 8. Before a race do you follow any specific routine or ritual for good luck?

CT – I do have a kind of routine but that’s just regards to food and drinks on a time scale. That usual starts with breakfast and then a pre race meal or snack depending in the race three/four hours before the start. That’s all really. You see lots of riders with good luck charms or routines that have to followed a certain way but I’m not really one for that.

PCN 9. Have you visited North America?

CT – I went to Long Island, New York when I was 12 years old to see my Aunty and Uncle who live out there. I travelled all over the North East side up through Boston, New England, Connecticut into Canada, Ontario. Then back down through Niagara and New York State. Of course as a child you don’t really appreciate the whole thing as much but I remember the ski jumping tower at Lake Placid quite vividly and the amazing colours of the endless trees in New England in what the Americans call The Fall.

PCN 10. What advice would you give to a young rider looking to to be successful in the pro peloton?

CT – Give it everything. 110% the whole time.

PCN 11. Do you have a personal website that our readers could visit?

CT – No personal website but you will be able to read how my season unfolds here on www.procyclingnews.com

PCN – Chris – thanks for taking the time to answer our questions – and good luck this season – talk to you soon!

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