When we look through our articles for the year we’re struck by how many of our interviews featured young Scottish riders, going through the National teams or ‘just doing it’ as we put it – making their own way with development squads around Europe and the world. We’ve featured riders such as Matti Dobbins, Stuart Balfour, Hamish Strachan, Sean Flynn, Matthias Barnet, Callum Thornley, Calum Johnston, Finn Crockett, Cameron Mason and Oscar Onley on our pages, and Oscar’s interview encapsulates the potential, the drive and ambition these youngsters exhibit and therefore is our pick for 2021 for ‘The VeloVeritas Years’ collection.
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Oscar Onley – “I can get on with the business of training, racing and seeking to improve”
We recently ran an interview with a young Scotsman who’s ‘just doing it,’ over the in Heartlands of Flanders, France and The Netherlands – 21 years-old Mr. Sean Flynn. Another even younger Scotsman who’s out there in the similar arenas, not to mention Norway, is 19 years-old Oscar Onley.
We last spoke to Oscar back at the end of last year with him looking forward to joining Development Team DSM.
It hasn’t been perhaps the year he would have liked due to injury but DSM are happy with the man, having renewed his contract until 2023.
His bronze medal result in the British u23 Time Trial Championship caught our eye and then we witnessed him put in a solid ride at a savagely hard British Road Race Championship in Lincoln – time to, ‘have a word.’
That was a nice ride in the British Time Trial Championship, sir.
“I wasn’t expecting that result, I’ve only ridden one team time trial this year and not spent too much time on my time trial bike, although I did ride it for all my training rides the week before the race.”
The Road Race Champs looked full-on throughout, your ride was a solid one.
“It was brutal, full gas; I was 21st overall and ninth in u23 category, I missed a couple of moves and had to chase back with my DSM team mate, Leo Hayter who eventually took the u23 bronze.
“I was feeling fine until the last lap; I didn’t find the Michaelgate climb to the finish too bad it was more the four kilometres which came after it, it wasn’t flat, dragging up, a very tough section of the parcours.”
You’ve been based in The Netherlands with DSM this year?
“Yes, in Sittard in Limburg most of the year, to start with it was difficult because of the 90 Day rule, however I have my visa and class now as an employee of DSM, who pay me a wage, and can stay as long as I want.”
I was checking your palmarès for the season and you began by posting a few DNF’s in April.
“Those were in UCI 1.1 races like GP Monsere and Cholet Pays where we were in with World Tour teams.
“Merlier won Monsere from Cav and Elia Viviani won Cholet Pays.
“I only raced once in 2020 with all the races that were cancelled due to the pandemic so it took me a wee while to find the rhythm of racing again.”
And you had time out due to injury?
“I broke my collarbone in May then my first race back was abandoned after 30 minutes due to flooded roads so my first ‘proper’ race back was the Giro Ciclistico della Valle d’Aosta, a hard u23 stage race in Northern Italy.
“I crashed on Stage One and landed on a rib which I’d damaged in the crash where I broke my collarbone.
“That was a hard day, physically and mentally – chasing on my own, I made the time cut by 23 seconds!
“But after that I felt OK on the climbs, it’s my descending which requires a bit of work – but that and improving my positioning in the bunch are both down to practice.”
What would say were your toughest races of the year?
“The races in Belgium don’t suit me so well due to the nature of the parcours so they’re hard.
“The stage races we rode in Brittany were tough; the four stage Kreizh Breizh has finishing ‘local laps’ which are very fast – and in the seven stage Tour de Bretagne the roads are very small, you have to make sure you position yourself well, near the front.”
Which of your results gave you most satisfaction this season?
“Probably my bronze medal ride in the time trial championship but I was also pleased with how we all rode as a team in the Tour de Bretagne; we messed up on Stage One and lost time but we came back to win Stage Two with Leo Hayter and also the last stage with Tobias Lund Andresen, that was a satisfying performance.”
So the DSM team experience is a good one?
“Definitely, everything is provided; we have our coach, a dietician, masseurs, mechanics, advice on the aero aspects of the sport… it all means that you don’t have to think about these things, all you have to do is concentrate on your racing.”
How about your ‘numbers?’
“My 20 minute power is the same as it was last year but all other aspects have improved, I’m still a climber but my ability to ‘kick’ out of corners and accelerate is much better.”
A two year renewal with DSM, that must provide peace of mind?
“Exactly, there’s no pressure on me, I can get on with the business of training, racing and seeking to improve.”
How much time off are you taking before the hard work starts again?
“I’m on the second week of my three week break, I’ll start slowly, a bit of MTB riding and hiking – I don’t like running – and gym work, we do core gym work all year, right through the season.
“I won’t be doing anything intensive until January, the team’s first camp will be then, usually down in Calpe in Spain.
“But I’m also hoping to ride Glasgow track over the winter to keep the rhythm of racing, as I said earlier it took me while to get back into that at the start of this year.
“There’s also the social aspect, it’s nice to see people and interact with them.”
Season 2022, The Commonwealth Games are in Birmingham, is that an objective and what other thoughts do have about next year?
“Yes, it’s in my mind, I’ve seen the race routes and whilst they’re not ideally to my strengths as a rider, whatever the parcours it’s all about riding a bike, isn’t it?
“At the Games I feel I could provide good support for the more experienced riders on the team.
“And hopefully I’ll get the opportunity to ride a few more time trials, races like the Chrono des Nations; I rode the junior edition in 2019 and finished fifth, so I’d like to go back there.”