What's Cool In Road Cycling

BritTour07 Inside: Down But Not Out

Most Scottish heather is of the ‘bonnie purple’ type, but there’s also the rarer, white heather; that gypsies used to sell as ‘lucky white heather’. Nowadays, the phrase has entered the Scottish vocabulary in an ironic fashion, meaning; anything, except good luck! Somewhere, there’s a field of the stuff with James McCallum’s name on it.

Pez: We heard you had flying lessons yesterday?

James: Tell me about it! The stage had gone well for me and we’d decided to see if we could get Tony (Tony Gibb, former world track silver medallist in the scratch race) and James‚ (team mate at Plowman Craven) up for a top ten place. Somebody flicked, I think it was Mark Cavendish, Simon Clarke took my front wheel away and down I went on my left leg and bum (that’s ‘booty’ for our US readers). I broke my helmet and my bike, but worst of all, I could see the bunch bearing-down on me, I thought; “oh no! I’m gonna be at the bottom of this lot!” But I was lucky and didn’t come out of it too badly. Matt Goss of CSC took the stage and Trusov kept the jersey.

Pez: It’s not the first time I’ve heard that Mark is a bit wild in a sprint.

James: It’s as if he goes into a trance – anything to win, but I guess that’s how he’s had ten wins in his first year.

Pez: How was today?

James: It was the first time I’ve had any good luck in this race!
I had been taking a bit of a pasting early-on – it was just so fast, 50 kph.
Then it was neutralized for 33 kilometres and I got a nice rest!

Pez: Neutralized?

James: The story is that the Chief Constable of North Yorkshire had been on holiday and he hadn’t signed off the permissions to allow the race through his area; he insisted that it was neutralized until it cleared his territory.

CSC’s Matt Goss took the stage 3 win into Wolverhampton.

Pez: How did it affect the outcome of the stage?

James: A group was about 20 seconds up the road when the neutralization came about and they were allowed to go, with the same gap, once we cleared North Yorkshire. I had been talking to Evan [DFL pro and PEZ diarist, Evan Oliphant] and he had been told by Nico Mattan that the group was planning to blitz it at the restart, so most of us were ready for what was coming – or at least, that’s what we thought! Just after the restart, there was a crash involving two police motorbikes and Hamish Haynes (DFL pro, who was 2006 British elite champion) seemed to be among it, it transpired that he’s been in the lead group, but had slid back from it to help his team mate, Daniel Lloyd, who was lying seventh. It was all really confusing, there was a hesitation and then it went savagely fast; despite that, the group was taking time – 30 seconds, 50 seconds then a minute-plus. They stayed-away until the finish, despite the fierce pace. On the last climb, I just let it go, I’m thinking about the last stage into my home town of Glasgow on Saturday and didn’t want to come in completely wasted. The Spanish guy Adrian Palomares Vilaplana from Fuertaventura-Canaries, took the stage and the jersey, I don’t know much about him or his team, but I think they must have taken a lot out of themselves today.

Pez: So you’re looking for a result on stage six?

James: Yeah, I’m just happy to be here after my injury, I was just trying to get through yesterday and today – they were the hardest stages. Tomorrow I’m going to try and keep as low a profile as I can, I want to be as fresh as I can for the finish in Glasgow. On my background, it’s not as if I can be up there overall, but I can maybe pick my moment and get my team exposure, like I said the other day, that’s what it’s about – marketing.

Pez: What are your overall impressions of the race?

James: For the team, it’s been a great experience and I think it’s really helped us gel and become more of a unit. None of us are delusional, we can’t expect to win, but we can produce a good showing for our sponsor, by getting into breaks and showing our face. The actual race route has been a bit strange on some occasions – the roads are just too narrow and out of the way. There have been a lot of long transfers too, it’s hard-going after a stage, sitting in the team car for a couple of hours. The actual racing has been very fast, there’s no big team in control, so the attacks go from the gun. I think Tinkoff are done-in after today, so there’ll be even less control tomorrow.

Pez: Good luck with the last two stages and I’ll see you in Glasgow on Saturday.

James: Cheers Ed, oh – I forgot to tell you, the race ambulance sandwiched me against a wall on Tuesday and I grazed my arm, it was bleeding at the finish.

Somehow, that doesn’t surprise me! I‚m going to be really careful not to get too close to James when I interview him at the finish, in Glasgow, on Saturday.

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