Saturday, April 20, 2024

Gary Hand – Herbalife’s New Recruit


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Gary Hand - Herbalife
Gary Hand – Herbalife new recruit.

If there’s one thing we admire here at VeloVeritas, it has to be enthusiasm for the sport. Scottish road scene stalwart, Gary Hand Herbalife – has it in spades – so when he emails to say that he’s joined a new team for 2013 and has big goals for the next two seasons, we best get right back to him and get the story; even if it is Boxing Day.

You’re leaving Pedal Power, Gary?

“The team has folded, but I’ll continue working at the Pedal Power shop – I have been, on and off for 10 years.

“Jonathan McBain and Ronnie Coyne have been great with me; they’ve always supported me over the years.

“This year they’re allowing me to work two days each week so as I can concentrate on my training.

“Endura are moving on, so it’s no surprise that they ended the sponsorship.

“Their support for the team has been amazing and I wish the new NetApp-Endura squad all the best for next season.”

Why Herbalife?

“When we knew that Endura was ending the sponsorship, we sent out a whole raft of CVs to potential new sponsors – we had a couple interested, but they weren’t coming up with sufficient money.

“We didn’t have a choice, really and the team folded.

“I started to send out CVs on my own behalf and Herbalife offered me a good opportunity to ride an excellent programme.

“Robbie Hassan was with the team, but he’s off to race in Spain, this year.

“Alex Coutts will be aboard, too.”

Nice Specializeds to ride, I believe?

“We’re getting them mid-January.

“The guys who run the team, Neil Taylor and Geoff Newcombe are very enthusiastic; they drove up to see me and took my fiancée and I for dinner to get to know us.

“They also dropped me off a boot load of Herbalife products and team clothing.

“I’ve been using their ‘Prolong’ drink in training – it has carbs and protein so you don’t really have to eat when out on a run.

“They also do specific post effort supplements – one for after gym work and one for coming off the bike.

“And a meal replacement shake which I’ve been using – I need to get my weight down.

“My best season was 2008 when I weighed 64 kilos; this past season I was racing at 67/68 kilos but I’m down now to 66.5 and want to race at 64, again.”

How’s the programme looking?

“The main things are the Premiers and we’re putting in an application for the Tour Series criteriums.

“Alex Coutts has a lot of contacts from his time in Europe so we’re hoping to organise some races abroad.”

Gary Hand - Herbalife
Gary at the start of the Scottish Road Champs this year. Photo©Martin Williamson

Have you been getting any ‘stick’ for joining an English team?

“A few comments from training partners, but that’s all – Scottish, Welsh, English, it doesn’t matter.

“I’m 31 now and coming towards the end of my cycling career, I needed a good team – and Herbalife fits the bill, perfectly.”

How do you stay so keen, Gary?

“I think the key thing is that I enjoyed riding the bike before I raced.

“I used to go out on the bike with my dad; I enjoyed the club runs before I got into the competition side.

“I think that with a lot of the young guys nowadays it’s race, race, race.

“This will be my 11th season and in the back of my mind is that the Commonwealth Games are coming up in Glasgow – I’d love to ride them as my ‘farewell.’

“Not just qualify, but be to be competitive in the race.”

How was 2012?

“I won the Road Race Series and had top ten placings in the Davie Bell and Drummond against the likes of Rapha and Raleigh.

“But I was nowhere near the fitness you need to ride Premier Calendar races – that’s why I’m going to cut back to working two days, so as I have the training and recovery time.

“To compete with guys like Evan Oliphant and James McCallum you have to be full time on the bike.

“I’ve sold my car to help fund things, cut back to a two day week and joined Herbalife – I wouldn’t have done all of that if I didn’t think I still have it in me.

“When the Games come around, I don’t want to have any regrets.”

Gary Hand - Herbalife
Gary Hand takes a business-like win in a Scottish SuperSix race in 2009 when riding for Endura mark 1, in front of new teammate Alex Coutts. Photo©Steve Falla

There wasn’t much fuss about your winning the Road Race Series.

“I don’t think there was anything on the Scottish Cycling website and there was no formal presentation.

“It was a wee bit Mickey Mouse; the Super Six Series which James McCallum put together was a much better competition with the various leaders’ jerseys and more ‘spectator friendly’ courses.”

Do you still bang in the big miles?

“I’ve definitely changed direction and am more specific about my training – but I still believe in time on the bike.

“I was out on Xmas Day and did four hours today, Boxing Day.

“In 2008 I had the climber’s jersey at Girvan and was getting up there in Premiers; every year since then I haven’t done the same volume of training – I want to get back to that level.

“But I do use Power Tap to record my data and have a Tackx virtual reality trainer for when the weather is really bad.”

Are you tempted by that nice new velodrome in Glasgow?

“It’s definitely something I’m going to explore – I want to explore every avenue in my training.

“Part of the money from selling my Mini Cooper is going towards buying a new track bike.”

Do you ever get twinges about having been one of the driving forces behind setting up the Endura team – and seeing where they are, now?

“Jim McFarlane of Endura was the real driving force – but Jonathan McBain and I made a contribution to the team going to Continental level, yes.

“We did a lot of things which folks laughed at – like having race radios and a team car – but we were just doing what you’d see on the Continent and in Premier Calendars.

“They’ve really moved up and I wish them well – it’s cool to know that I was there at the start.”

Goals for ’13?

“To be back into the top 10 in Premier Calendars and to be knocking on the door of the podium.

“I want to get to same sort of level as James McCallum and Evan Oliphant.

“I’ve got a lot of hard work ahead of me!”