Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Sean Flynn – “The Games Road Race is almost a home race for us”


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Sean Flynn

Continuing our series of interviews with Scottish Commonwealth Games cycling team selections we speak to a man who’s been producing quality results in the colours of the Fabian Cancellara-backed, Swiss continental level Tudor Pro Cycling Team, Sean Flynn.

‘Tudor’ is the famous Swiss watch company and they’re thinking big – the goal for 2023 is to go ProTeam, the bikes are by BMC and the presentation and image would do a World Tour team proud; a nice set up to be part of.

Congratulations on Games selection, Sean.

“Thank you, it’s something you dream about from a young age, representing Scotland at a high level.” 

The team was Swiss Racing Academy but is now backed by the Swiss watch maker, Tudor with Fabian Cancellara involvement?

“Yes, Tudor came in as sponsors, they have links with Fabian and wanted to get involved in the sport.

“Nothing has changed about the team just that now there’s extra funding – the plan is to go up from Continental to ProTeam level in 2023.”

Sean Flynn
Sean Flynn. Photo©supplied

You were with SEG last year, how did the Tudor ride come about?

“SEG still have their rider agency, I’m still with them and they got me the ride at Tudor.”

Do you see much of Monsieur Cancellara ?

“Yes, he was at the training camp in Calpe, it was nice to meet a legend of the sport – he’s one of the biggest names of recent times.

“He’s an impressive person to be around and gives us good advice, he really has invested his time in the team.

“His is a name which opens a lot of doors for the team.

“At one of the Belgian races earlier in the year there was wind and rain and cross wind, I made the split and he was in the team car.

“It was surreal to be riding and have him speaking to me out of the window of the car !”

The BMC team bikes look cool.

“I know I’m supposed to say it but they really are good machines.

“We’re on SRAM RED eTap which took a wee bit of getting used to but is really good once you do.

“We’re on DT Swiss wheels which are first class too – and the backup from BMC is very good, we did a factory tour, it was cool to see the set up.” 

[And I have to mention the Schwalbe ‘Cancellara Special’ white tyres on Sean’s bike – very nice. ed.]  

Sean Flynn
Sean Flynn’s white tyred BMC. Photo©Ed Hood

Who coaches you?

“I’m coached by the team, Guillaume Bonnafond is one of our DS and he coaches me, he was a pro for 10 years with AG2R and Cofidis, riding the Grand Tours so he knows the sport.

“He lives close to me which is good – and takes me out motor-pacing.” 

You started the season strongly; a stage win and GC podium in the Istrian Spring Trophy.

“I was fifth in the Porec Trophy before that, those races in Croatia were nice to start the season with, not ‘in at the deep end,’ but still at a decent level.

“It was good to get an early win and to finish third on GC in the Istrian race.

“Since then I’ve improved a lot physically and tactically although I’m getting a bit anxious about getting another win – but I think it will come.” 

Sean Flynn
Sean Flynn held the lead at the Istrian Spring Trophy. Photo©supplied

You had a good ride in the ‘cult’ u23 Belgian stage race, the Triptyque des Monts et Chateaux. 

“I had two top 10 stage placings and was ninth on GC but I’m more proud of those results than they may look on paper.

“I’d been down with a chest infection and it wasn’t even sure I’d be riding – I got those results when not physically at my best.

“I made the winning moves which was good for my confidence.”

A result I missed but which is impressive; fourth in the Strade Bianche di Romagna. 

“It was the first edition of the race, it’s a UCI 1.2U race and has gravel sectors and an uphill finish.

“It’s in a different region – Romagna, not Tuscany – to the pro race but it mimics it, having the same organisers.

“It’s a race which suits my skillset, coming from mountain biking.” 

Sean Flynn
Parcours like the Strade Bianche suit Sean Flynn. Photo©supplied

The Baby Giro – how about those mountains?

“It was hard, those longer climbs are a weak point of mine, I don’t mind the shorter climbs, I can get over them and they shed some of the heavier sprinters.

“I had three top 10 stage finishes so overall I’m happy with my fitness – although I missed a couple of opportunities.

“But it’s a really nice race and one I’ve wanted to ride ever since I turned u23.”

What’s the programme now?

“I have the National Championship Road Race then a training/recovery period. 

“I think I also have the Valle d’Aosta five stage race in mid-July before the Games, it’s a hilly one but I’m hoping that there will be a couple of days where the racing isn’t just about climbing.”

Is your team OK with you taking time away from their programme to prepare for and ride the Games?

“Yes they’re quite happy, they realise it’s an important thing for me.”

Sean Flynn
The Tudor Pro Cycling Team are happy to have Sean Flynn ride for Scotland at the Commonwealth Games. Photo©supplied

Have you had the chance to study the Games Road Race circuit?

“Not in detail; it’s fairly flat but technical, it’s like a Belgian kermis parcours.

“I’m quite happy with that and I think it will make for open racing – we have a strong Scotland team and it’s almost a ‘home’ race for us, we’ll have friends and family by the road side.”

Will this be the first time you’ve ridden in a Scotland jersey?

“If I recall rightly I rode the junior Tour of Wales in one but that was an inter-regional event.

“This will certainly be my first time at senior level.”

As with all Scotland’s Games athletes VeloVeritas wishes Sean well for Birmingham.