📷 : SWPix
Team GB and Welsh cyclist Ethan Vernon was this year announced for selection for the Commonwealth Games in Australia, where he competed in the 1000m Time Trial, 4000m Individual Pursuit and the 4000m Team Pursuit for Wales, where they finished fourth. We chatted to Ethan a few days before the Junior Track Nationals where he had a great result beating his own National Record and winning the title to claim Gold. Catching up with Ethan, he tells us how his cycling career started, about competing for Team Wales and his training for events.
When and how did your cycling career start?
I started racing BMX at six years of age up until I was fourteen. Picked up quite a lot of injuries over the years so started training at the Welwyn Wheelers outdoor velodrome to assist with rehab and to work on my power and Endurance.
Wasn’t long before I started racing and became hooked on the track. This then progressed on to the road up to where I am now.
What made you decide to take cycling up as a professional sport?
I was racing at the age of six so it’s not something I decided to take up as a profession. I always preferred cycling over school, so it has taken priority over school for the last twelve years.
What’s it like competing for Team Wales?
It was a great experience to represent Wales at the Commonwealth Games. Something that doesn’t happen often and was very proud to represent them over in Australia! The team were a great laugh and certainly made it an experience to remember!
Have you always enjoyed cycling?
Yeah it’s always been cycling I’ve enjoyed. Gave a few sports like Football and Rugby a go when I was younger which was a good laugh and good fun, but had to give them up when the training for cycling got more serious.
What’s the furthest distance you have cycled?
110mile. I grew up riding a BMX for 40 seconds so never trained to do long road miles! I’m still only seventeen and the races are only 70mile maximum so there is no need to ride long distances.
What was your experience like at the Commonwealth Games?
It was a great experience especially with it being so far from home and my first major championship! It felt special to be surrounded by Olympic Champions, but also to get to know them too. The Athletes Village was pretty cool as well!
Have you learnt anything from your time there?
Lots of positives to take away from the Games. It will have definitely settled any nerves for the Junior World Track Champs later on in the year. Also to be only 0.9 seconds off the Bronze Medal with only three to four training sessions together was pretty impressive and something we can build on before the Birmingham Games in 2022.
What’s the reaction been like from people in your hometown when you returned from Gold Coast?
I did a recording for ITV news before I left so I had quite a few of the locals supporting me and watching my progress at the Games.
My school made a big fuss too upon my return along with hundreds of messages on social media.
How do you ensure your bike doesn’t get damaged when travelling for competitions?
I took a hard-shelled bike box to Australia. I prefer these to a soft-shelled case as the box takes the impact rather than the bike. Lots of foam was wrapped around the frame too to protect it!
How long does it take to get accustomed to a new bike?
A new bike not so much. A new position however takes a lot of time to get used to. This tends to happen for me in the off-season so that I am not messing around with my bike leading up to major events.
When you get a new bike, you tend to copy the geometry across from your old bike and therefore it should not take long to accustom to a new bike.
What does training usually consist of, and where do you train?
At the moment, it consists of training camps with Great Britain Cycling Team in Manchester, Newport and Derby which consist of double days on the Track and Road lasting roughly a week. Outside of camps: 4hr road rides, Intervals on the turbo and S&C are in a typical week’s training.
How is training going for the World Championships?
Yeah it’s going to plan at the moment. Power data and track times are significantly better than last year so looking forward to it!
What races are you preparing for this year?
· Junior Track Nationals starting in two days (Monday 23rd July) which last a week
· Junior World Track Champs (15th August)
· Junior Tour Of Wales (24th August)
Which has been the hardest race of your career?
Probably in BMX where I broke my leg on the first jump in the semi-final and carried on riding the remainder of the race to finish third and qualify for the final! That was definitely the hardest race I’ve ever done!
How would you encourage someone to get into cycling?
The Go-Ride scheme set up by British Cycling is a great way for beginners to start. Good fun way to encourage the youths to cycle, but also learn lots of useful techniques which are beneficial as you develop in the sport.
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