We didn’t make it over to the Scottish Road Race Championships – which this year included the Sam Robinson Memorial Race – but thought it only fair that we catch up with the man who was crowned champion, Matti Dobbins of the Wheelbase CabTech Castelli team.
Prior to this success Matti’s strongest result was probably the silver medal he won with Alex Haines in 2019 British Madison Championships behind Rhys Britton and 2022 Tour revelation, Fred Wright who’s now with Bahrain Victorious.
We last spoke to Matti in 2021 when the prospect of a Scottish Team Pursuit squad riding the Birmingham Commonwealth Games seemed realistic – that never came to pass, despite Wales, Canada and India fielding teams as well as the ‘big three,’ medal winning squads of England, Australia and New Zealand – with Matti having hopes of being part of that sadly unfulfilled project.
Matti’s season 2022 has been blighted by illness but form has arrived just in time to give him a much needed big result and morale boost at last.
Congratulations, Matti – remind us of the basics about you first, please.
“I’m 21 years-old, I live in Bridge of Weir, I work as a lifeguard at Linwood and ride for the Wheelbase CabTech Castelli team.”
You were an RT 23 man last time we spoke?
“Wheelbase offer a very good level of support, they supply a nice Cannondale bike with the latest Ultegra Di2 and solid race support – it’s a good set up.”
Was the Scottish a big goal for the season?
“Not really, I was obviously keen to do well in it but I couldn’t afford the luxury of building up to it and tapering into it.
“This season has been two steps forward and three steps back with illness for me – I’ve had Covid and tonsillitis; it’s only recently that I’ve been feeling like I have something like form.”
Talk us through your race.
“It was a really good course, the Dukes Pass came early to warm us all up; I actually thought the race would split there but it didn’t really.
“My Wheelbase team mates were active in attacks and I went away at 40 kilometres to go with Ciaran McSherry [The Cycling Academy]; it was still a long way to go so didn’t want to commit, ‘all in.’
“But then Louis Moore [Vanelli Project Go], Alex Ball [Zappi Racing Team] and Joe Shillabeer [05:03] came across to make it five so I thought it was time to press on.
“My team mate, Logan Maclean also got over to us and we were then a group of six – but McSherry and Ball were dropped so that left four of us in the mix, working well together until the last K when it got cagey.
“Logan and Joe both attacked but came back – then it was just a drag race to the line.”
Does this result encourage you to go down and ride the Premier Calendar races in England?
“I’ve actually been doing them, all except Stockton but my performances have been lacklustre due to my struggles with illness.
“Last year I had an 11th place, a 14th place and a 17th place in Premier Calendar races – the Ryedale is in three weeks, that’s the one where I was 11th and now that I have some form again I’m hoping to go well in that.”
Do you have any international opportunities coming along?
“With Wheelbase we have a trip to Belgium to race for a week or two coming up at the end of August.
“But not with Scottish Cycling, I didn’t meet the Commonwealth Games selection criteria so they let me go – I was suffering from tonsillitis at that time.”
Is a move to the continent to step up a level something you’ve considered?
“It’s definitely something I’m looking into.”
The last time we spoke we discussed your possible involvement in a Scottish Team Pursuit squad for the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, it must have been a disappointment that it didn’t come to pass?
“I don’t think it would have taken them long to gel as a good unit?”
You’re a handy man on the track, dominant in the league at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, is that still something you want to pursue?
“Yes, definitely, I’m still keen to ride the track but with Wheelbase the only real opportunities to compete at a high level are the Scottish and British National Championships now that I’m not on the Scotland squad.”
Who coaches you?
“I was coached by Scottish Cycling but now that I’m off their programme I’m coached by Simon Kessler of ‘Simon Says Cycling,’ he’s a South African ex-pro who lives in Colorado, he’s coached the likes of Daryl Impey.
“He has access to all my data and gives me a personalised programme, I’m enjoying working with him.”
What’s next on the agenda?
“I have the Ryedale Grasscrete Grand Prix at Ampleforth Abbey on Sunday 21st August – where I was just outside the top 10 last year; and there’s the Beaumont Trophy in Northumberland on Sunday 18th September.
“In between those I have the Belgian trip with Wheelbase so there’s still plenty of racing to do this season.”
What’s your ultimate goal in the sport?
“The dream would be to become a continental professional.”
VeloVeritas wishes Matti well with his ambitions but to realise that dream he’ll have to head over to Europe and ‘get noticed.’
It’s not impossible, just look at Calum Johnston who’s in the thick of it with Caja Rural at the Volta a Portugal as I write this.
With thanks to the photographers, Ben Fitzhugh, Joe Cotterill and Ellen Isherwood.