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Interview: Owain Doull Q&A

Mark Bailey
6 Dec 2016

Team Sky's latest recruit on being mentored by Sir Bradley Wiggins, winning Olympic gold and his love for the Classics

Cyclist: How does it feel to be joining a cycling powerhouse like Team Sky? 

Owain Doull: It is unbelievable. I’m riding as a stagiaire this year to get a taste of things before I join fully next year.

The most exciting bit so far has been picking up my Team Sky bike and kit. It was a bit surreal to see my name on a team jersey with the little Welsh flag.

For the past year I’ve been focusing on the team pursuit with British Cycling ahead of Rio, and Sky has a similar philosophy to British Cycling so it was an easy choice.

Brad – who I have been riding with on the track for Team GB and at Team Wiggins on the road – said they would be a good fit so it was a no-brainer.

 

Cyc: How big a help was Wiggins during your time at Team Wiggins?

OD: I can’t put into words how much he has done for me.

He is the reason I didn’t take an offer to join Europcar (now Direct Énergie) the other year, saying I should rather join his new team and focus on the Olympics.

If I had gone to Europcar maybe I wouldn’t be Olympic champion and riding for Team Sky next year.

I could have been flogging myself at the Tour du Poitou-Charentes instead of winning an Olympic medal in Rio, so I will forever be grateful to Brad.

 

Cyc: There is a lot of young British talent at Team Sky now, including Alex Peters and Tao Geoghegan-Hart. Do you know each other well?   

OD: It feels as though there is a generation of British cyclists like Cav, Geraint Thomas, Pete Kennaugh, Swifty and Ian Stannard who are all within four or five years of each other.

And it feels like we are now part of a new generation coming through.

There is myself, Adam and Simon Yates at Orica, Dan McLay, Tao who is a bit younger than me, and Alex who I raced with as a junior.

It is exciting to be a part of that group and to see what we can do.

 

Cyc: Was finishing third and winning the points jersey in the 2015 Tour of Britain one of your highlights on the road so far?

OD: The highlight, to be honest.

I knew that I’d be focused on the track for Rio this year, so if I wanted to turn professional afterwards it would be my 2015 performances on the road that would get me a contract.

I went to the Tour of Britain with a real focus but I was really just hoping to get up there on a few stages and draw some attention.

To end up third overall and win the points jersey was amazing.

Continues below...

OWAIN DOULL FACTFILE

Age: 23
Nationality: British
Honours: 2016
2nd, World Track Championships, Team Pursuit
1st, Olympic Games, Team Pursuit

2015 3rd overall, Tour of Britain, points classification winner

2013 1st, European Track Championships, Team Pursuit

2012 1st, National Track Championships, Individual Pursuit

 

Cyc: How special was it to win Olympic gold in the team pursuit alongside Wiggins?

OD: It was strange enough when I started to ride with Ed Clancy as he was a big hero of mine, and then when Brad came back in it was like another level again.

Even Ed saw Brad as a hero when he was younger but I am 13 years younger than Brad so I used to have pictures of him plastered on the wall of my bedroom.

To be mates with him now and to win Olympic gold in the same team… it is almost like it still hasn’t sunk in.

 

Cyc: How did you celebrate in Rio?

OD: There are not many places quite like Brazil and it was nice to have a few nights out in Rio on the emotional high of winning.

For the first three days I was on it all the time but then I thought I should probably have a day off with no alcohol.

But then I woke up at 2am with food poisoning and I couldn’t stop throwing up for about 30 hours.

I was in bed for two days but I managed to pull myself together and get back on it.

I left Brazil on the Saturday after sipping cocktails on Copacabana beach and I was back in Manchester on Monday morning doing a big four and a half hour ride in the rain.

 

Cyc: Were you always a big cycling fan?

OD: I used to play a lot of other sports – football, rugby, tennis – although I always loved cycling too.

I was a winger when I played rugby. I went to a Welsh-speaking school that was famous for its rugby teams. Welsh internationals like Jamie Roberts have come through there.

Rugby was my first love and my family are rugby-crazy so for me to get drawn into cycling was odd, but thank God I did.

 

 

Cyc: How did you get into cycling?

OD: We went on a family holiday to France when I was younger and for the first week we cycled around and our luggage was taken to the next hotel each night so it was like a little tour. 

I loved every minute of it, so when I got back I said to my folks that I’d like to give cycling a crack.

Maindy in Cardiff was my local track. They’ve managed to turn out a few Olympic gold medallists, including myself, Geraint Thomas and Elinor Barker. That’s not a bad track record!


 

Cyc: Is the Welsh cycling contingent pretty close?

OD: I know most of the gang pretty well but we don’t see each other much as we are always at different events.

But when we are all back around Christmas time we head out on the bikes together.

Obviously there are guys like G and then there is Becky James and Elinor Barker from the velodrome, and young guys like Scott Davies, who is stupidly talented, and Dan Pearson, so we have a good crop coming through.

 

Cyc: What races do you want to target in the years ahead with Team Sky?

OD: The Classics, to be honest, so races like Flanders and Roubaix.

Those are the races I love watching but they’re also the ones I am best suited to both physically and in terms of my style of racing. 

 

Cyc: Your career seems to be following the perfect model so far. Did you always have a grand plan?

OD: It is funny because from the outside it looks like I was British Cycling’s model example because I have been through the Talent scheme, the Olympic Development Programme, the Under-23 Academy in Manchester, the Podium programme and now I’m Olympic champion.

Even switching to Team Sky makes it look like the perfect trajectory.

But there were a lot of ups and downs along the way and it was a lot of hard work. All this is not as easy as it looks!

Owain Doull was speaking ahead of the Revolution Champions League: www.cyclingrevolution.com

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