‘Legend’ is a word which is bandied around lot in cycling; but if you’re familiar with our style of writing you’ll know that we try to go easy on the superlatives – unless we’re talking about Eddy Merckx or Alf Engers, naturally.
But the subject of today’s interview can justifiably lay claim to the title of ‘cycling legend.’
Kiwi, Gordon McCauley has been a round ‘since grass’ and has raced just about everywhere there is to race and seen just about everything there is to see in pro bike racing.
At 41 the man from the land of the long white cloud is still racing and winning – it was Vik who gave us the push to get hold of Gordon – we’re glad he did.
We recently took a wander through his career with him – here’s what he had to say…
How many seasons have you raced, Gordon?
“I started in 1985 so that makes it 28.”
How many wins have you had – I’ve seen 114 mentioned?
“It’s over 750 if you count track and local races.”
You won the Tour of the Southland – NZ’s biggest race – in ’96; how many stages and overalls have you won there, since?
“I’ve ridden it 20 times, won twice; won the green points jersey three times, King of the Mountains twice, 12 stages and been part of the team that’s won the Teams Classification twice.”
You were National Champion first in ’97 – how many national road and TT titles have you won?
“National Road five times 97, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2009; time trial three times and criterium champion once.”
You came to GB in ’99 and rode for Men’s Health – why GB; Men’s Health wasn’t the best, was it?
“GB is English speaking and a good stepping stone to Europe.
“Yeah, Men’s Health had a great bunch of riders and the DS Sid Barras was awesome too – unfortunately the management blew the budget and failed to provide work visas as promised so I left towards the end of the year.”
You won Girvan in ’99 – what are you memories of that?
“Being told off at the bed and breakfast for having sugar instead of salt on my porridge.
“And wearing the kilt and tammy on the podium; McCauley tartan of course and no…I had no undies on.”
Palmans in 2000 as stagiaire – you’d had wins to get that spot; tell us about your time in Belgium.
“I loved racing amateur in Belgium, attacks all day, my style of riding; I won 13 Kermesse races and 4 Inter Club races to earn my trial with Palmans.”
2001 Landbou and at least five wins…
“A big learning year, I raced 120 days and rode Flanders, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, E3 Harelbeke, Het Volk, Wevelgem and generally spent the year getting a kicking!”
Flanders for 2002 and at least 10 wins with podiums in le Samyn and Midtbank – a good year…
“I figured out I wasn’t gonna be big a big player so focussed on smaller races and lower ranked UCI races, it suited me well.”
Schroeder in the US and Giant Asia in 2003, why move from Belgium after such a good season?
“I had reached my limit, I figured it was better to be a lead rider on a smaller team in not so hard races; Schroeder Iron was one of the best teams I ever rode for, I’m still friends and in regular contact with Frank Schroeder even today.”
Monex in 2004, another US team – but still winning.
“I race to win!”
Who did you ride with in 2005 for those five wins?
“Nobody, I stayed in NZ and prepared for the Commonwealth Games, I actually won 52 races in NZ and Aussie that year including the Tour of Southland, National RR, Oceania RR and TT and won the Oceania pro tour ranking.”
Back to Monex in ’06 and a Commonwealth Games TT medal – that must be a career high light?
“Yip, I consider it the biggest result of my career.”
Why come back to GB and Plowman Craven for ’07?
“Tony Gibb offered me a ride and as I enjoy being in the UK I jumped at the chance, it was a fantastic year and I can’t thank Tony and Simon Barnes enough for the chance to ride for PCA.”
You were still winning in ’08, but who did you ride for?
“I stopped for a while and then just club raced for a local sponsor at home.”
You won the Tour of Tasmania in 2010 for Subway, that’s a hard race to win.
“I actually rode for Subway in 2009/10 and won the NZ road and TT titles for them, I also finished 4th in the 2.HC Tour de Hainan.
“I won the Tour of Tassie riding on the Total Rush Team from Melbourne.”
Who were you with in ’11 and ’12? – you were still winning.
“I won the odd race but switched to triathlons in 2011, I actually qualified for my age group for the Worlds.
“I started training again for road in May 2012, I went to Aussie for a bit of racing and won and couple I had two or three offers after that.”
Drapac for ’13 – that was a surprise.
“I guest-rode for Drapac in 2012 when they had injured riders and won a couple of NRS stages, they were happy with my work and offered me a ride for this year.
“My priority is my coaching business so popping over to Aussie to race works well; I certainly couldn’t be based in Europe or the USA anymore like I used to be.”
You hopped about teams and nations a lot during your career, why has that?
“Teams folding, priorities changing, short attention span and silly decisions.”
Which was your ‘finest hour’?
“Meeting and marrying Mrs GMC.”
Who’s the best rider you competed against during that time?
“I’ve raced against Pantani, Ulrich, Armstrong – some would say Bartoli and Coppi!”
New Zealand has certainly come on as a cycling nation during your career?
“Yip, Bike NZ do a great job with the track program providing huge support for up and coming riders, I’d like to see more support for the juniors though.”
Tell us about your coaching business.
“I started coaching many years ago with a few riders and it’s gradually built into a career, I love coaching and seeing riders grow and improve.”
What’s still ‘to do’ for Gordon McCauley in cycling?
“I love my coaching work – and a national road or development coach for NZ or any nation really, is an ambition.
“I have the racing knowledge; and my riders get great results, so believe I have what it takes, time will tell I guess.
“Racing wise, I race because I still love it so why stop?
“I have nothing to prove and don’t win as often as I used to, but cycling still gives me a buzz when I pin my numbers on and get on the start grid – and I can still deliver results when I need to and work hard for my team mates when required, so why stop?”
Check out Gordon McCauley Coaching