Pro cyclist interview: James McCallum aiming for more Glasgow Revolution success as Commonwealth Games countdown begins

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Interview: James McCallum aiming for more Glasgow Revolution success as Commonwealth Games countdown begins

Scottish star, set to join NFTO next year, believes Sir Chris Hoy velodrome is among the very best

Scottish veteran James McCallum is relishing the opportunity to race on front of a home crowd when the second Revolution Series event of the season is held in Glasgow on November 30.

The 34-year-old sealed overall victory for Rapha Condor-JLT at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome alongside Olympic champion Ed Clancy last season.

And with the city set to host the Commonwealth Games next year, McCallum – who could compete in his fourth Games – believes Revolution will be a huge step towards them.

James McCallum and Ed Clancy will team up for the second round of the Revolution Series in Glasgow on November 30. Picture: © Crankphoto.co.uk

“It’s exciting to be racing there – definitely,” he told RCUK. “I think especially now the Commonwealth Games aren’t far away, it will be great to get some competition going in the velodrome.

“Last time we did it, it felt awesome and everyone now knows what Revolution is up here and what it’s all about. It would be great to, hopefully, have a repeat performance for me and Ed.”

Organisers will be laying on shuttle buses for fans during the event after encountering transport issues last year, and McCallum believes those coming along will be in for a treat.

“I think it’s going to be massive,” he said. “We’ve seen it already off the back of the Olympics, there’s quite a lot of momentum behind it and everyone wants to get tickets to the velodrome to watch it.

“Lots of people are saying to me ‘I’d love to get to see you racing there’. I suppose it’s a big-time sport now.

“People talk about it, and with the Olympics too and guys like Chris [Hoy] and Craig MacLean and Ross Edgar they’ve all helped massively. We’re now seeing the fruits of their labour, so I think it’s going to be massive.”

If McCallum and Clancy – who won three events at the Series’ opener in Manchester – is to repeat his success however, the Scot must get back to fitness after the birth of his new baby girl.

As if to prove her Dad’s point too, she started crying during the interview.

“It will depend on how my track legs are –I’m a bit sleep deprived,” McCallum admitted. “But we’ll be alright!”

Having represented Scotland at the last three Commonwealth Games – including winning a bronze medal in the scratch race in 2006 – McCallum is keen to sign off with a home games next year.

James McCallum hopes to deliver a strong showing on home boards at the Sir Chris Hoy velodrome in Glasgow. pic: ©CrankPhoto.co.uk

“It will be quite nice to do my last games at home in front of the Scottish fans,” he said.

“When I first started out on a bike, I certainly did not think I’d get a chance to, first, compete in four Commonwealth Games and especially not at a velodrome that’s about three miles from where I grew up.

“Even at the British road race in Glasgow, the response riding around was incredible. I heard my name like every 100m and it was like ‘oh my God, who are all these people!?’

“It’s going to be the same in the velodrome too, but it will be more condensed and it’s more interactive for the fans. It’s going to be brilliant!”

And having competed at many different tracks during his lengthy career, McCallum believes Scotland’s new velodrome is one of the best.

“It’s a pretty good track,” he explained. “It’s very different to the ones like Manchester that everybody is getting used to – it’s a different shape.

“It’s more of a sprint track with longer straights so there’s a slightly different technique to use when racing in bunch races and pursuits etc.

“But in terms of the actual arena, as far as velodromes go it’s one of the nicest arenas I’ve ever actually been in. It’s got lots of natural light, and it’s not like a track stuck inside a big shed!

“It’s a nice, big building with really high ceilings and lots of big windows. It’s just a really nice building and it’s great to only have to travel half an hour to the track, rather than three hours to Manchester or via a flight to somewhere in Holland!”

Away from the track, the Scot will be joining Britain’s newest pro-Continental team, NFTO Racing, for 2014, bringing an end to three years at Rapha Condor.

McCallum, who will join NFTO next season, was pleased to have been able to race to his strengths at Rapha Condor, such as at the IG London Nocturne (pictured) Pic: ©Roz Jones

But McCallum insists he is leaving the team with nothing but great memories having joined from Endura in 2011.

He said: “I said when I joined Rapha Condor-JLT, John Herety gave me a second chance at being a proper pro in the UK and I’m very, very grateful for everything he’s done and all the help he’s given me in the last three years.

“I think I just needed a new challenge – I don’t want to be leaving the sport, possibly at the end of next year, and be wishing I had tried something else.

“John has given me that platform to realise more of my own potential and find out what I’m good at.

“That’s one thing John always said – he told me he’d only make me do things I’m good at, and never do things I’m not so good at – like big, long stage races with 20km climbs!”

And, having helped the team to a strong showing at last year’s Tour Series – where they finished joint-second behind the now-defunct Team UK Youth, McCallum believes Rapha Condor are a major force on the domestic scene.

“Being a crit rider, the Tour Series and things like that have really helped me come to the fore, and the programme’s a lot better in the UK now as well,” he said.

“The racing’s just absolutely unbelievable now – it’s so hard and it’s getting harder every year. I’m pretty happy with Rapha being such a great team, and everybody wants to be a part of it.

“I look back now and can see I’ve been there for three years – that’s the longest I’ve ever been in a team!

“And to be in a team for that long, and to learn so much from John and Kristian [House] and Ed and pass on all we’ve learned on to the young guys, it’s been great from that point of view.”

McCallum will team up with national criterium champion Russell Downing, pictured, as part of a star-studded NFTO roster for next season (pic: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com)

McCallum admits it will be a strange feeling to ride against his former team mates next year, but is looking forward to riding with former team mate Dean Downing in a star-studded NFTO line-up next year.

“I’m good mates with him,” he said. “It’s almost like I’m back to being at Rapha when Dean was there!

“I’ll miss the guys, particularly with the Tour Series when you’re really in that pressure-cooker environment of racing, and you all try and help each other get through it.

“With young guys like Felix English and Will Stephenson – it’s going to be weird not having them beside me in the race and instead being up against them.”

Also signed up for NFTO next year are Dean’s brother Russell – who told RCUK of his excitement about the new project – alongside Jonathan Mould, Luke Rowe and Adam Blythe.

Former Team Sky directeur sportif Sean Yates has also been recruited behind the scenes – and while Glasgow 2014 remains McCallum’s biggest target he is excited about helping to get his new team off and running.

“I’ll be trying to do something in Glasgow on the track,” he said. “But then there’s the Tour Series and the National Crits and just basically helping to get NFTO off the ground and hit the road running.

“On paper it’s a great team but if you write all the names down, all you have is a list of names.

“We’ve got to get the results now to back up the billing people are tagging us with now, of being this amazing super team.

“You can have all the best riders in the world in your team but if it doesn’t work and it doesn’t gel it’s not going to work when you’re racing.”

Discuss in the forum

James McCallum will represent Rapha Condor JLT at the second round of the 2013/14 Revolution Series in Glasgow on Sunday November 30. For more information, or to buy tickets, visit http://www.cyclingrevolution.com/the-series.html

Pictures used with kind permission of Crankphoto.co.uk, SWPixcyclingphotos.com, and On The Road Cycling Tours

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