Continuing our series of interviews with Scotland’s selections for the 2022 Commonwealth Games we speak to a man who continues to improve, year upon year – Kyle Gordon from Alness, who has taken 26 seconds off his Individual Pursuit time over the last five years, not to mention dominating the Scottish short/middle distance time trial scene.
In the Games it looks like he’ll ride the track – Pursuit, Scratch and Points Race – and probably the road, in the Individual Time Trial after the sad news that Finn Crockett has succumbed to the dreaded virus.
The only problem with this interview was that Kyle was speaking to us on the phone from a restaurant where he was sitting outside – to the delight of a local seagull who was dive bombing his tea…
Where are you based these days, Kyle?
“In Glasgow, the athlete accommodation next to the velodrome – the former Commonwealth Games village.”
And is John Archibald still coaching you?
“Yes, he has an extremely methodical and scientific approach, we’ve worked together for the last two-and-a-half years and it’s been an upward trajectory all through, which is very rewarding for both of us.”
The last time we spoke was July 2021 when you’d just returned from Russia and taken a silver medal in the Saint Petersburg UCI Nations Cup Individual Pursuit, what have you been up to since then?
“I rode the Three Days of Aigle at the UCI HQ velodrome in Switzerland and knocked out a couple of 4:13 Pursuits if I remember correctly.
“Then it was on to the Tissot meet at the Grenchen velodrome, again in Switzerland, where I did a 4:12 for the Pursuit. I also rode the bunch events at both meetings where I did OK but no podiums, I missed out on a Points Race podium by one point.
“It was Portugal next and the Anadia Velodromo Nacional for the UCI C1 where I rode the Omnium and made the top 10.
“The British track Nationals were postponed but when they came round I got third in the Pursuit riding with a 4:12 behind Dan Bigham – and second in the Team Pursuit, riding with an East Midlands composite team, we were only beaten in the last lap in that one.
“Most recently was the Glasgow Nations Cup where I got my Pursuit personal down to a 4:10 – in 2017 when I decided to go after Commonwealth Games selection, my best was a 4:36.
“I have to say that I’m riding a wave right now, I’m happy, having fun and surrounded by an amazing group of people – family, friends, team mates, sponsors…”
Tell us about ‘Sub 7’ project you were involved in.
“The day after the track Nationals I received a call from Matt Bottrill asking if I’d like to get involved as a pacer for the Norwegian triathlete star, Kristian Blummenfelt in his attempt to beat seven hours for a full distance Ironman triathlon.
“It was to be a challenge between Kristian and Alastair Brownlee but Alastair had to withdraw due to injury and Joe Skipper took his place.
“It sounded right up my street, a bit wacky – but then Matt asked if I could be in France for Friday to attend a training camp?
“I agreed and attended the training camp where I met the rest of the pacers, some of whom had no Team Time Trial experience but they learned quickly and we soon gelled.
“One of Kristian’s sponsors is Giant and their Cadex brand so we were all riding the new Giant tri bike; the position was a wee bit different to my usual UCI position, not as ‘slammed’, but I got close to my usual setup. They were nice machines though.
“We were on 12 speed SRAM with Cadex ‘hookless’ tubeless tyres, disc brake and an integrated two litre hydration system.
“Kristian had 10 pacers, one in the pool, one on the run but eight on the bike where it was felt he could make up most time.
“We averaged 53.9 kph for the bike ride but we rode to a certain watts target so that Kristian would still be capable of the 2:25 or better marathon he had to run to achieve the target, there was no point in going too hard on the bike if it meant he was cooked for the run.
“He recorded 6:44 to smash the seven hour barrier – Joe Skipper was under seven hours too – it was awesome to be part of such an experience and make new friends from all over the world.”
What will you be riding at the Games?
“My participation in the Individual Time Trial is to be confirmed; John Archibald is riding it, having achieved the selection standard with the other two places between Mark Stewart, Finn Crocket and me.”
[Finn’s participation is now in doubt since the news came that he has contracted Covid, ed.]
“On the track I’ll be riding the Individual Pursuit, the Points and Scratch Races and, as always, when I pull on a Scotland skinsuit, it’ll be a great honour.
“The whole team is of the mindset that we’re not just going to take part – we want to return with medals.”
You had the British Cycling National Individual Time Trial Championship and I believe you were down to recce the course?
“Yes, it was a good, fun course, a loop rather than the usual, ‘out and back’ format – but then the British Cycling Champs are usually like that.
“Some of the surfaces are a bit ‘grippy’ and it was exposed – harder than I thought it would be.”
[Kyle finished in 16th place, 4′ 38″ down on winner, Ethan Hayter, ed]
Wass that your last race before the Games?
“No, I had the Sandy Wallace Memorial circuit of Loch Leven on 26th of June and then it was on to the track and hard work in anticipation of the Scottish Cycling pre-Games training camp in Glasgow.”
[Kyle was the first winner of the Sandy Wallace Memorial trophy, finishing top of the leaderboard in a course record time of 24-55, almost two minutes ahead of the rest, ed.]
At that, we left Kyle to head inside with his grub to avoid the ‘Devil Gull’ and enjoy his tea – we wish Kyle and all his team mates every success at the Games.