Neah Evans is one of Scotland’s most successful ever cyclists with a raft of British, Commonwealth, European, Olympic and World championships medals on the track to her credit, she is reigning British Points and Individual Pursuit Champion.
She’s an integral part of the GB ladies Team Pursuit squad which has consistently been at the forefront in major competitions for a decade and more – only missing the Worlds podium once since the event was launched in 2008.
They are the most successful team in history with six golds, five silvers and two bronzes.
Paired with Katie Archibald she’s also a formidable Madison performer with Six Day, World Cup and European wins as well as World Championship medals to her credit
Neah will be riding the endurance events – the Scratch Race, the Points Race and the Pursuit – on the Lee Valley boards and also hopes to ride the 29 kilometres Individual Time Trial which takes place at Wolverhampton.
Are you still Manchester based, how does that compare to being based in Bonnie Scotland?
“I’m not the biggest fan of big cities but we’re on the outskirts of the city so I get out into the country to ride my bike at every opportunity I get.
“As an endurance track rider we do up to 20 hours each week on the road; some days are split with turbo sessions in the morning then out in the lanes in the afternoon but for long rides – five hours – you can go out into the Peak District which is a lovely part of the world.”
Do you like the Lee Valley ‘Pringle’ Velodrome?
“Yes – but then I don’t have a choice!
“I’ve not ridden an Individual Pursuit on it but have ridden Team Pursuits on it – and the London Six Day.
“It always attracts big crowds and you can use its steepness to give you ‘free’ speed off the bankings.”
Silver in the Scratch Race and bronze in the Points Race at the last Commonwealth Games on the Australian Gold Coast in 2018 – unfinished business?
“I could say ‘yes’ however, as you know, you can go into bunch races on the track with the form of your life but there’s so much can potentially go wrong in these events.
“At the last Games I went in without any big expectations and whilst I’d like to upgrade those medals…”
Which other events will you be riding and will Scotland field a ladies’ Team Pursuit squad?
“I’ll be riding the Individual Pursuit and hopefully, the Road Time Trial.
“For various reasons, one of which is size of the cycling squad, Scotland won’t be fielding a team in the ladies’ Team Pursuit, no.”
The Madison: you and Katie have been very successful in the discipline – is there a Madison in the Games?
“Sadly, no ladies Madison in the Commonwealth Games, the programme doesn’t entirely mirror the Olympic programme where you do have the Madison but then in the Olympics there’s no Individual Pursuit.”
Going back to last season and the Olympic Team Pursuit; you were on the GB team who came out as the silver medallists – whilst the German’s were perhaps ‘surprise’ winners – your thoughts on that?
“Not really a surprise; if you go back to the 2020 World Championships in Berlin they blew up in qualifying but in their round one ride against Italy they rode 4:11:039, which was the fastest of the whole tournament.
“Because they messed up the qualifying they couldn’t race for gold but took bronze easily with a 4:12 ride to beat Canada.
“They have real strength in depth, with the Covid situation restricting road competition they brought in road riders and focused them on the Team Pursuit.”
What’s your favourite event and why?
“Can you ask me that again, after I’ve ridden them?
“My favourite is the Points Race but I do like the Individual Pursuit, it’s a very honest race – albeit horrible!
“You’re sitting there in the race thinking; ‘why am I doing this to myself?’
“In the Scratch Race and the Points Race anything can happen, all sorts of dramas that you can’t foresee – but the bunch races are fun.”
What’s the itinerary between now and the Games?
“I’ve made the decision to focus on training. We have a track training camp at Derby just now before the National Time Trial Championships at Crichton Estate in Dumfries over 22.1 kilometres on Thursday 23rd June. [Neah finished the Time Trial in Dumfries in 24th position. ed.]
“Then it’ll be back to training – and the Games with the track cycling starting on Friday 29th July.”
Will GB be letting you ride one of those hi-tech Hope machines – and what’s your take on them?
“I hope so!
“I’d like to get one for the bunch races and have been told that I can have one but I’ve been twiddling my thumbs waiting on one.
“They ride nice, they’re quick and stiff but when you’re riding one, ‘it’s just a bike.’
“I’ve ridden Team Pursuit on them and they take a little getting used to – your contact points are different.”
What would Games success in 2022 look like for you?
“I’d really like to come away with a gold medal – or improve upon the last time, at least.”
We wish Neah and all her team mates every success on those Lee Valley boards later this month.