Monday, June 24, 2024

Callum Watson – An introduction to the Rigmar Racers


HomeInterviewsCallum Watson - An introduction to the Rigmar Racers

Rigmar RacersIt used to be that there was just one team to consider in Scotland when it came to track racing, the City of Edinburgh Racing Club – but another velodrome force is emerging, Rigmar Racers.

We decide to have a word; the team’s Callum Watson provides the answers:

Rigmar” is . . .

“Established in 2007, the Rigmar Group has evolved to become a leading international single source provider of asset management and maintenance solutions, primarily to the mobile offshore drilling fleet and subsea industry.”

What’s in it for them?

“The Company has a strong commitment to excellence delivered through investment in staff, having industry leading development programs and modern skills based apprenticeships giving employees real scope to be the best in their industry.

“They are also keen cyclists and are making the most of their cycling sponsorship by having Sir Chris make a keynote speech at the opening of their new Dundee fabrication facility and donating a signed jersey to the Aberdeen Wheelers Charity auction.

“The Racers are keen cyclists too and share the same development ethos of the company in relation to our development riders.

“One of the jersey design requirements was that the Rigmar logo should be visible from every angle, and this visibility that the sponsorship brings translates in to a much wider sphere of awareness than the cycling team’s progress.”

Rigmar Racers
Rigmar Racer Finlay Young, in action at the Edinburgh round of the Tour Series. Photo©Martin Williamson

We believe the team is a breakaway from the City of Edinburgh – why?

“The Racers has been a Scottish Cycling and British Cycling affiliated club since 2001 when it was set up as a kids’ development club by Allister Watson five years before the BC Go Ride initiative.

“Allister was also one of the founder members of the City of Edinburgh Racing Club in 1981, so it’s easy for things to get a bit mixed up.

“Since then the club has had a development role with riders such as Kevin Barclay, Eileen Roe, Callum Skinner, and latterly with Jenny Davis, Louise Haston, Charline Joiner, Kenny Ayre and of course Katie Archibald.

“The Racers was a kids’ club; riders moved on when they were 16/17 and usually joined the ‘City’ where the same coaches would support their development.

“In 2013 the ‘City’ Committee decided not to support rider development preferring to concentrate on their established riders who were ‘potential medal winners’ and to turn down substantial development funding from Rigmar.

“From that point the Racers development experience and Rigmars development funding were a logical match and the evolution of ‘Rigmar Racers’ affiliated to British Cycling as a commercial club with a focus on developing Scotland’s cycling talent in 2014 emerged.

“The club is now the top BC ranked Scottish national club and top West of Scotland ranked club.

“The City of Edinburgh Racing Club goes from strength to strength and will be a force to be reckoned with in the Scottish and British Masters events.”

What are the team’s best performances thus far?

“Having a young lady who is one of our development riders being mistaken for a GB team member when she did her first accreditation session as she looked to confident and ‘just right on the bike’ It helped that Katie Archibald had given her some of her old kit though!”

Rigmar Racers
Earlier this season Finlay crashed at the end of a TT, breaking his arm, and his wheel. Still smiling though. Photo©Martin Williamson

What level of support can members expect – travel, equipment?

“We are fortunate to have a number of very helpful sponsors that help out the club with various methods of support.

“Glen Rental provides the team with cars/vans as required to go down to the racing, Rock 2 Roll cycles helps us out with equipment which does make a big difference, especially for things like track racing against the clock.

“The job of the club management is to try and let the riders focus on their riding as much as possible, without having to worry too much about the ancillaries.”

Do you have your own coaching system?

“The club runs on a cloud based system with less experienced riders being in cloud one, more experienced riders in cloud two, coaches and experts that like going on café rides in cloud three and outside helpers – friends of the racers – in cloud four.

“The aim behind this is to create a knowledge transfer system in order to help all of those involved.

“For example, Callum Skinner is a former British champion, two time Commonwealth Games athlete and full time athlete with British Cycling.

“Undoubtedly a cloud two rider; Callum is available to give Rebecca Dornan – a cloud one rider and aspiring sprinter – some advice on tactics, race preparation and training methods based on his extensive experience as a track sprinter.

“The day to day feedback and mundane questions are answered by the cloud three people allowing Rebecca to get the benefit of some expert knowledge but without Callum getting overloaded with questions that can be answered by others.

“It’s a pretty cooperative system and it’s been working well so far, some riders need a bit more guidance than others and we attempt to provide the resources to achieve this for everyone.”

How do you set the programmes for your riders?

“The riders choose their race programs for the year with additional opportunities provided as they come up eg. Tour Series or Revolution.

“We believe that specificity is the key to success in development and that you’re not going to do well at something as hard as bike racing if you don’t enjoy it!

“The main problem is picking the team for restricted entry events because we have such a talented pool of riders!”

Rigmar Racers
The club’s Steven Lawley hammers the Scottish 25 Mile TT Champs. Photo©Martin Williamson

I believe that the Revolutions carry UCI points now and they’re much tougher than they used to be?

“The standard of competition in track racing both domestically and internationally is increasing all the time and certainly the last couple of years have seen a real spike.

“As far as I’m aware, the actual Revolution Elite Team’s competition does not carry UCI points but there are UCI races run at the same event.

“For example there was a UCI sprint, which Callum Skinner raced in, but it does not impact the standings in the revolution team event.

“It’s going to be a real challenge for our riders, but in order to develop as a rider you need to ride the big events.

“Take Mark Stewart for example, he rode the first Revolution event in Glasgow two years ago guesting for Raleigh. From memory, he had a massive stack but by all accounts learned a lot. This year he’s been ripping it up and I think that experience certainly played a part.”

Are World Cups something the team is thinking about for the future?

“The World Cups are a tricky one, it used to be that there were quite a few and if you paid the entry fee then you could enter a team.

“Now you need to ride UCI events in order to qualify for the World Cups and there are far fewer (I think London is the only European round).

“The travel is the major expense, you need to travel and stay in hotels at the qualifying events then again at the world cups themselves I can imagine it would be a bit of a money pit.

“Never say never though, and opportunities often arise when you least expect them.”

Rigmar Racers
Callum supervises his charges in the warm up at the Edinburgh Tour Series round. Photo©Rigmar Racers

Isn’t the Tour Crit Series very expensive to enter – and will you be recruiting riders to compete in it?

“We rode the Tour Series round in Edinburgh this year and it was a fantastic learning experience for the boys with the general consensus from them being, ‘if I could ride a few of those on the trot, I think we could get well stuck in.’

“We won’t be recruiting riders; I think that we have a massive amount of potential already in the team with guys that will give a really good account of themselves and the team given the chance.

“Though I did read that Theo Bos might be leaving Belkin this year – I think we could sort him out with a jersey.

“Again, it’s not so much the entry fee as the costs surrounding travel and accommodation. When you’re taking eight guys all over the country it gets pretty expensive pretty quickly, like the final round this year in Jersey. Getting eight guys and all the kit from Glasgow to Jersey would have been quite the challenge.

“The Tour Series is an incredible opportunity to expose our riders to top class domestic racing and it’ll certainly be an aim of ours to ride a few more next year.”

Gordon Arms
Steven Lawley wrapped up warm in an early season TT. Photo©Martin Williamson

Which events are you contesting at the British Track Championships?

“At the British we’re riding the Team Pursuit looking for a good performance, we’ve got a really strong group of guys so hopefully that goes well.

“We’ve also got some guys riding in the individual endurance events with big Phil Trodden looking to progress on his top five placing from last year, and Alistair Rutherford hoping to keep hold of that form that took him to the final of the Commie Games points race.

“Callum Skinner is going like a train at the moment and has been winning with the GB squad in Germany recently so he’ll be a force in the sprint disciplines as well.

“It’ll be a really exciting week; we’re all looking forward to it.”

What would ‘success’ look like for Rigmar, long term?

“Success is an elusive beast at best and it’s easy to draw the correlation between success and winning bike races.

“For us I hope that it’s a bit more than that; helping more riders develop towards their goals to go onto bigger and better things is certainly up there in the to do list.

“Also introducing promising new athletes into competitive cycle sport and watching them develop into more confident capable people as well as bike racers.”