Saturday, April 20, 2024

Lauren Bell – Looking forward to the Sprint Events at the Games

“My main objective is to enjoy the experience, take it all in and not get stressed."

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HomeInterviewsLauren Bell - Looking forward to the Sprint Events at the Games

With the release of the list of Scottish squad selections for the Commonwealth Games cycling events we thought it would be good to catch up with a few of the riders; some ‘old friends’ and some new names to us.

First off, we spoke to 22 years-old Lauren Bell from lovely Forres on the Moray Firth coast; she’ll be competing in the sprint disciplines on the Lea Valley track in London – the Games are being held in Birmingham but to the disgust of many in Brum the track cycling events will be held on the Lea Valley Olympic ‘Pringle’ Velodrome in London.

We ran an interview back in 2019 with former top amateur rider, Dave Viner who was at the forefront of efforts to get a track for the city’s hosting of the Games – but in vain, albeit he’s still campaigning to get a ‘training track’ for his home town. 

Lauren Bell burst on to the GB track scene by winning the 500 metre Time Trial and Keirin at the 2020 British track championships, as well as taking Sprint bronze.

In 2021 there was success at European level with a silver medal in the u23 Team Sprint.

This year’s British Championships saw her lift 500 metres Time Trial silver and Individual Sprint bronze.

But it’s worth mentioning that British Championships are not a priority for riders on British Cycling programs; they don’t ‘taper’ or plan to ‘peak’ for national championships, they train right up to the Nationals – BC have their sights set much higher at European, Commonwealth, World and particularly Olympic levels.

It’s those precious Olympic results which stimulate vital funding, not national championships. 

Lauren Bell
Lauren Bell. Photo©Jeff Holmes

We opened by asking Lauren how she got into the sport:

“It was as a result of a ‘talent transfer’ programme.

“I was originally a runner – a sprinter and hurdler – but they did some tests with me and told me that I had the potential to be a good track cyclist in the sprint disciplines.”

Remind us of your career highlights, Lauren.

“I think the rides that defined me happened before I joined the British Cycling Senior Academy; in 2020 I won the British 500 metre Time Trial and Keirin and was third in the Sprint and Team Sprint.

“More recently I had respectable showings in the sprint disciplines at the Glasgow and Milton rounds of the Nations Cup.” 

Tell us about the workload on your programme.

“I’m on a ‘strength block’ right now, that involves three gym sessions each week, then I’ll be going on to a ‘power block’ with two sessions each week in the gym, less repetitions but bigger weights and four track sessions each week.”

Lauren Bell
During lockdown Lauren Bell improvised as best she could to maintain her strength and conditioning. Photo©supplied

Do you do much road work?

“Not like a road or track endurance rider, it’s more like leg loosening rides.”

Who coaches you?

“It’s Andy Leveton now, it used to be Justin Grace but he’s more with the men’s side of Sprint coaching.” 

Forres to Manchester, a bit of a contrast?

“It wasn’t too much of a shock to the system, I was living in Glasgow when I was with Scottish Cycling, to be close to the track but yes, Forres is rural, close to nature, whilst Manchester is a big city.

“But it means I’m close to the velodrome and when we’re training we can practice drills properly, for example we can use the starting gate every day to simulate actual race conditions when practicing starts.

“The only thing is that the water down here does taste different from back in Scotland!”

You’ve had success in the 500 metres Time Trial, Keirin, Sprint and Team Sprint – which is your favourite discipline and why?

“I like the Keirin because you’re aware that when you line up at the start anything can happen, it’s always an exciting discipline.

“In the Sprint, generally, if you’re quickest then you’ll win.

“I like the Team Sprint because it’s fun that you’re all in it together.

“But I really like the 500 metre Time Trial because there are no tactics involved, you just get on your bike and go as fast as you can; I won the British title in 2020 and was second this year.”

Lauren Bell
Lauren Bell won the British 500m Time Trial in 2020. Photo©supplied

What’s the Scotland team for the Team Sprint?

“Iona Moir is position one, I’m position two and Lusia Steele is position three.”

And who rides what events in the Games?

“I think we’ll all be doing the four disciplines – the 500 metre Time Trial, Individual and Team Sprints, and the Keirin.

“Iona has exams so it’ll just Lucia and I training for the team sprint until Iona joins us after her exams are finished.”

What’s the itinerary between now and the Games, where the cycling starts on Friday 29th July?

“We’re currently training in Derby then we have a warm weather training camp in the south of France before we go to our pre-Games training camp in Glasgow.”

Have you ridden the Lea Valley Velodrome before?

“I’ve ridden it twice; I learned how to ride and race on the Glasgow Velodrome and really like the track but now I’m really familiar with the Manchester Velodrome.

“Lea Valley is similar to Manchester, not as steep as Glasgow.”

Lauren Bell
Lauren Bell training at home in Forres. Photo©supplied

What are your objectives for the Games?

“My main one is to enjoy the experience, take it all in and not get stressed.

“Performance wise I’d like to make the Keirin final and record a personal best in the 500 metre Time Trial.” 

We’ll be bringing you more chats with our Games hopefuls who’ll be seeking to emulate the great success Scottish cyclists enjoyed at the last Games, on the Gold Coast in Australia where Mark Stewart won the points race, John Archibald took pursuit silver, Jack Carlin took sprint silver and Callum Skinner took kilometre bronze.

Not forgetting Katie Archibald’s pursuit gold and points race silver or Neah Evans’ scratch silver and points bronze.