Welsh track star Jon Mould believes his home country will be a force to be reckoned with at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow next year.
Mould, who rides for the Welsh Team USN on the track and won a bronze medal in this month’s World Cup scratch race in Manchester, is one of a number of cycling medal hopefuls for the principality next July.
A strong Welsh team could include, double world champion Becky James, team pursuit world record holder Elinor Barker and double Olympic gold medallist Geraint Thomas, who is likely to ride the road race and time trial in Glasgow.
And, despite a winter switch from the now-defunct Team UK Youth to Britain’s newest road team, NFTO Pro Cycling, Mould admits the Games are his biggest target in 2014.
“It’s really all about the Commonwealth Games in 2014, in Glasgow,” Mould told RoadCyclingUK. “That’s the whole point of the trade [track] team, USN, to help us Welsh riders prepare for the Games.
“I’m going to ride the track a bit more than I did this year through next summer as well, just to stay on top of it. It is all about the Commonwealth Games.
It’s really all about the Commonwealth Games in 2014 – I think we’ll surprise a few, it should be good
“It should be really good. On the track we’ve got a strong team – there’s Elinor, and Becky James of course for the sprint, then there’s Owain Doull, Sam Harrison and me for the track and then on to the road.
“We’ll all be behind Geraint there. I think we’ll surprise a few, it should be really good.”
Having completed his road season with a debut appearance at the Tour of Britain, Mould went on to secure a national champion’s jersey on the track in the omnium, alongside strong showings at Revolution and the World Cup meeting in Manchester.
And the 22-year-old Newport-born rider admits his switch back from the tarmac to the boards has been almost seamless.
“It’s been a pretty good return to the track,” he said. “I came off the road straight from the Tour of Britain, and everything from the year had been good.
“It was a case of back to the track, and what I had always done before, so it was just the process of getting back on it, getting back used to the bike and then just getting back on with it. The whole year that was behind it has helped.
“It’s been fine switching back to the track, I’ve done it for as long as I’ve been on the bike really. I don’t know any different to be honest.
“I’ve been asked about it before, and people are like ‘wouldn’t a full winter on the road be better for the road season?’ but I just tell them I don’t really know because I’ve never done anything different.”
The former British Cycling academy rider won the national championship omnium within a week of the Tour of Britain finishing, having won three of the four events in the competition.
“I just got stuck into it and then won it,” said Mould, having had little time to prepare for the track due to his commitments on the road.
He carried that form into the first round of this winter’s Revolution Series, an event he believes is growing in stature every year.
“Revolution has become massive, especially now with the UCI races as it means a bit more,” he said.
“The amount of people that are there now watching – it’s getting bigger and better every time I do one. I’ve done one every year since 2009, and I think there just getting better and bigger as the years go on.”
His performances in Manchester saw him win the points race and finish second in the elimination race against a strong field which included double Olympic gold medallist Ed Clancy (Rapha Condor JLT).
Those results helped place Team USN fourth overall after the first round, and while Mould will miss the second event in Glasgow, on November 30, he admits he has found his forte in bunch racing.
“I think they just suit me,” he explained. “I seem to know how to ride them quite well and I just enjoy them.
I think bunch races just suit me. To be aware while you’re on your knees is hard at points, but they are just my favourite
“I just enjoy the whole part of it – you’re racing flat out but also having to concentrate on what’s going on.
“In the points race, for example, you’ve got the 150 laps with sprints every ten – to be aware while you’re on your knees is hard, but they are just my favourite races.”
If evidence of the effort required was needed, the World Cup scratch race provided it as Mould, Spaniard Albert Torres, Italian ace Elia Viviani and Russia’s Ivan Kovalev attempted in vain to catch lone escapee, and eventual winner Andreas Muller.
Mould admitted he had not expected Muller’s break to succeed on the day, but was nevertheless delighted to have won a bronze medal.
“I was really chuffed with the World Cup bronze medal,” he said. “It was a really hard race – we really were just on our knees going for the line. It was nice to hold on for the bronze at the end, because I’ve watched it back now.
“In my mind, I looked at it and we were using the Austrian as a bit of a carrot to chase. I did think we were going to catch him, but he was just too strong in the end.
“It’s really good for him, he did a hell of a ride. I did think we could have caught him but we were all flat out as I said and he was just going as fast as us. He did really well to hold on.”
Away from the track, Mould also enjoyed a successful road season in 2013, with Team UK Youth winning the overall Tour Series title – with the Welshman securing an individual victory in Colchester.
It was disappointing they couldn’t find a sponsor but Nigel Mansell has funded it for the past four years, all from his own pocket, and I think there has to be a time when he can’t be putting out that amount of money
Mould believes the team’s success was down to the all-round strength of a squad put together under Nigel Mansell, and he admitted it came as a surprise when the former Formula One world champion was unable to find a new sponsor, causing the team to fold.
“The year was really good,” he said. “Everything was covered that could have been and the success was gained from it.
“We were a group of lads as well, and all had a good laugh while we were doing it. It was a strong team all round and we had every base covered – for sprints, breakaways or any eventualities. It made the team come together, so it was really good.
“It was a bit of a shock for everyone. It was disappointing they couldn’t find a sponsor but Nigel Mansell has funded it for the past four years, all from his own pocket, and I think there has to be a time when he can’t be putting out the amount of money he was doing.
“It’s fair enough for him, it was just disappointing we couldn’t find another sponsor in time, and for another year. A lot of the lads wouldn’t have thought about going anywhere else. A few of the lads haven’t even got a ride for next year yet, it’s up in the air.”
Mould is one of the fortunate ones who has and will ride for John Wood’s NFTO team next year as part of a strong roster which includes the Downing brothers and for BMC Racing rider Adam Blythe.
Based in Hereford, the team is relatively local to Mould’s Newport home and with a lot of friends in the team he is relishing the opportunity to ride with them in 2014.
And with former Team Sky directeur sportif Sean Yates part of the backroom staff, he believes it will give him the chance to continue his development on the road.
“For me, it was an easy switch,” he admitted. “I was thinking about it anyway, even if the team hadn’t folded, so it should be really good. The racing programme this year should be really good and I’m really looking forward to it.
For me, it was an easy switch to NFTO. I was thinking about it anyway, even if Team UK Youth hadn’t folded
“Sean Yates has gone from shouting at Chris Froome in the Tour, telling him to slow down, and telling Bradley Wiggins what to do to telling us what to do!
“We’ll definitely learn a lot from him so it should be good.”
And while the Commonwealth Games remains his biggest target in 2014, Mould hopes the move will provide him with more opportunities to shine on the road.
“I’m hoping to do the same on the road next year,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll do the Tour Series again and another win there would be nice in an individual round.
“I’ll be building up to the Commonwealth Games in July but after that I’ll be back on the road again. Hopefully I can do the Tour of Britain and there will be a lot of opportunities.
“I think we’ll be doing a lot more racing around the place, so I’m going to take the opportunities when I get them.”