Ed’s Back - And Things Are Looking Exciting!
If you’ve been following Ed Clancy OBE’s Olympic journey, you’ll know that although everything didn’t go according to plan, he still remains the most successful Team Pursuiter in the history of the event.
As we at CB have been reporting on Ed’s activities over the last 18 months in particular, it’s only right that we share with you this post-Olympics interview with Ed’s reflections on his cycling career and the exciting plans he has for the future.
You’re back! How does it feel to be home Ed?
The cat forgot who I was! He came to visit me this morning for the first time really, and sat on my chest when I was having a lie down which was nice.
It’s good to be home, it was alright out in Tokyo, it didn’t go according to plan but we had a good go and I tried everything, but that’s elite sport - you win some you lose some. I’ve been lucky that on the previous three occasions I’ve had good form, no injuries and everything was alright so it’s just one of those things.
If I could go back in time I’d do it all over again! But it is a hard, restrictive life. It’s great when things are going well but tough when things don’t go right on the world’s biggest platform! I feel like I’ve seen it all and experienced it all and right now I’m happy to be looking forward to doing other things with my life.
I also recognise that it’s hard for friends and family when you’re an elite athlete. You have to lead a selfish way of life. So many times I’ve missed friends’ weddings, barely seen my own parents, neglected everyone, in pursuit of that elusive gold medal. It’s good for Laura (my girlfriend) and hopefully friends and family that I can be more normal and do normal things now. It’s been ‘Olympic year’ for the last 2 years thanks to Covid, so I’m hoping everyone who’s been involved and made sacrifices will be happy to have me back.
What’s the first week without training been like?
It’s a strange week, the first thing you would normally do is get out of bed and assess how your legs are, how you feel and you’re thinking about breakfast for fuel for a training ride. There’s none of that anymore, it feels strange but quite good to have the freedom!
But it’s been all go really! I’m just on my way back from a school visit to help launch the new Halifax academy, so I’m still busy. Within 12 hours of landing from Tokyo, I was in a meeting talking about plans for the Clancy Briggs Cycling Academy.
How is the rest of the team doing after the dramatic events in Tokyo?
The lads are good - Wallsy won the gold medal in the Omnium, he turned up with great form and good morale, great to see him progress over the last 2 years.
Matt Walls & Ethan Hayter got a silver medal in the Madison. Unlike Team Pursuit which is very clinical and you get the result you deserve, Madison is a lottery so to come away with the silver medal is amazing. I’m glad Ethan got something from the 5 year journey, he’s got a contract underneath him with Inios and I don’t doubt he’ll go on to win the Tour de France. He’s rebellious but he’s got the legs to back it up.
It wasn’t a happy ending for Ollie Wood, Ethan Vernon & Charlie Tanfield, but they’re only young, they’ve got time on their side and I’m sure they’ll bounce back.
So out of the three events, we got medals in two of them and one went wrong - in elite sport, that’s still defying the odds.
What are your thoughts reflecting on the Team Pursuit races?
In the past, Team Pursuit has almost been a more dependable outcome, so it’s a shame it wasn’t to be this time. The track was 500m altitude which is high enough for the air density to be very low, but not at enough altitude to affect human performance, so it was very, very fast.
Over the last 5 years, riders have progressed, coaches have progressed, there’s almost been an ‘arms race’ to develop aero, bikes, skinsuits, helmets, overshoes. Everyone there, all 8 teams, went faster than we went in Rio, which is crazy when you think about it!
We knew it was going to happen, we knew it was going that way. It’s still the same humans pedalling the bikes, it’s just a reflection of the progression in aerodynamics, how fast the track was at that altitude and the atmospheric conditions that make a difference.
It will be interesting to see how things develop in the next 3 years - off the bike, there’s going to be interesting things happening. There’s so much talk around aerodynamics, what’s legal, what’s illegal, it’s become as important as the people pedalling them. For the smaller nations, it’s becoming almost impossible for them to compete due to the investment required, then you’ve got other teams taking short cuts and trying to interpret the rules differently. Like motorsport, the rules are black and white, but if engineers interpret those rules differently, it's complicated.
How is your back doing now?
My back is alright, it’s been an ongoing problem since 2015 and it’s got to the point I don’t even talk about it - I have good days, bad days.
Without Hannah, the Physio, I’d have finished my career in 2015. I hadn’t admitted it to myself, but I’ve never been the same since, so to get that Gold medal in Rio after the surgery I had was my greatest achievement.
This time, I didn’t travel well, and although it wasn’t a huge issue on the bike, I was working at 95% and that’s all it takes. We have a predetermined strategy and if you don’t have the legs, it falls down.
And how is Charlie Tanfield after the dramatic crash?
Charlie’s been on a rollercoaster, he’s such a great teammate. We had to try putting Charlie in but through no fault of his own it’s hard to drop into a full speed team pursuit not having done it for a month, it’s a big ask.
I was watching it in the stands when the Danish rider crashed in the back of him - you couldn’t make it up, I’ve never seen so much drama in one event.
But Charlie never moaned, he stepped up with minimal preparation, he got himself back on for the final and saw it out.
So, what’s next?
We’ve got Ed Clancy week next week at the academy - really looking forward to that, to getting out there and coaching the kids.
I’m in discussions with Pro-Noctis about how we’ll further our career together.
I’m in touch with British Cycling and am scheduled to do some work for the aero team and do some work debriefing some of the Olympic riders from other disciplines.
And perhaps the biggest project right now is the new Halifax academy, which will be a real focus for me over the coming months. Whilst I’ve been pursuing my Olympic dreams, the team in Doncaster have established a really brilliant operation so I’m really pleased to be able to take the formula and the format and deliver coaching excellence in another Yorkshire town.