(Photo Credits: Joolze Dymond- for the Tour of Britain pics and Madison Genesis for the rest)
I owe Tom Stewart a couple of ‘thanks’ looking back over the last year: Firstly, it was an interview I did with him just before Christmas 2013 that made me first consider getting a site together rather than trying to condense good material down into short opinion pieces for the local press. The second is for an afternoon shouting at the tele with a beer(s) and some mates whilst he battered away in That Break with Dowsett and Brändle in the 2014 Tour of Britain..
I caught up with Tom again at the start of the 2015 season and firstly made sure another team move was not imminent – the first interview went to press pretty much on the day his move from Raleigh to Madison Genesis was announced, the carefully and now former- sponsor placed references I included still make me cringe!
Tom Stewart. “Madison Genesis just seemed like the right option for me, the whole set up with the riders there and the management just seemed like the place for me to take the next step and develop and learn as a rider”
Ciclissimo!. I can imagine working with Roger Hammond is certainly beneficial! How is that? What’s the Hammond philosophy?
TS. “Roger is the most fair and level-headed person I’ve ever met! His experience is key to this- if you are ever unhappy or unsure of something, the best answers and advice always come from Roger. He conducts himself in a very professional manner, he’s a very smart guy; always a strategic outlook in his in his decisions and advice”
C!. You mention developing as a rider was a key factor in the move- have you decided in which way that focus is going to go as yet? You’ve had some good rides in week long stage races last season-is that an aim?
TS. “I’ve not decided on a definite area, really, just keep chipping away as an all rounder right now. As a rider on a domestic UK squad the key is to not be too narrow in your approach- you need to do well in the Friday Night Crit and then do the same in the long road race on the Sunday”
C!. Tell us about that break in the Tour of Britain
TS. “It was surreal and very special! Alex (Dowsett) was just getting stuck in and we were just thriving on the home roads and all the support out on the roadside. A team like ours has nothing to lose in these races and this was just a perfect example of us playing the cards again on that day- we’d ridden aggressively all week and I’m just lucky that it was the move that I was in that stuck and went all the way! I definitely want to race lots more at that sort of level..”
C!. You were racing in November this winter- but not on knobbly tyres! I have to admit that the Tour of Southland in New Zealand was somewhat off my radar when I looked it up after you mentioned it.What was the deal there?
TS. “Haha- yes, that was something to just keep sharp in November when there’s nothing really to do! It’s a non-UCI, lower level event but it is a fantastic race, real once in a lifetime stuff, I really enjoyed being over there, seeing the country, riding the stages. Lots better than sat in the cafe halfway through a cold ride back home!”
C!. What is your favourite race to ride?
TS. “The Lincoln GP has to be a favourite. I’ve been to watch the race since I was about 17 and for the last two years have ridden in it. The race is a common favorite amongst riders. The atmosphere at that race is infectious”
C!. Give us an idea of the workload & regime- how monastic is it? What sort of hard work/ rest period balance is required? I think a lot of club riders over-train with the idea that training is all about battering it as hard as possible every ride and end up plateauing
TS. “I think its one of the biggest mistakes I see amateurs making. Training is only valuable when the body is allowed to rest to ‘soak up’ the benefits. Understandably it can be hard to have a proper rest day when other work and family commitments present themselves. I had this same problem while I was studying but you just have to do the best you can to recover properly from training. The old cliche ‘quality not quantity’ holds very true here. The training can be hard but its only a small part of the regime. Riders need to consider so many other things. Diet is important but not at any cost. Getting ill is one of the worse things that can happen to a rider and preventing this is crucial also”
C!. Are you still a ‘Fan’? do you still get excited at the prospect of watching bike races?
TS. “This sport is far too hard to do for any reason other than a love of cycling. I make sure I regularly have leisurely rides with friends that often include a cafe stop. I train as I need to but that doesn’t stop me enjoying riding my bike. If anyone finds themselves falling out of love with the sport they need to reevaluate their competitive ambitions”
C!. Ok- Any final words of wisdom to all aspiring young racers out there, Tom?
TS. “Train more. Rest more. Eat less.
…Within reason! “