‘Wonder Kids.’ Belgium has Remco, Spain has Juan Ayuso, England has Tom Pidcock, the USA has Magnus Sheffield – and Wales? They have 18 years-old Joshua Tarling.
The tall young man from Aberaeron just taken the biggest win of his young life – the World Junior Individual Time Trial Championships in Woolongong by 19 seconds from Hamish McKenzie of Australia at 49.395 kph.
Josh first appears on the palmarès websites in 2018 when he was making the podium in Belgian cyclo-crosses.
But it was last year when things started to go spectacularly. The British junior Points Race went his way – a feat he repeated this year in the senior race – and he also took medals in the junior Madison, Scratch and Pursuit.
At European level he won the European junior Team Pursuit and Omnium titles.
There was silver in the BC Individual Time Trial championships and he grabbed the same colour of medal at the Worlds Individual Time Trial in Flanders.
He was third in the UCI 1.1 Bob Jungels 130 K road race in Luxembourg and won the Time Trial to finish second overall in the SPIE International Tour in the Netherlands.
This year there’s been more of the same – two senior track titles, the Team Pursuit and Points Race.
He won the Time Trial and GC in the Tour de Gironde and took the Time Trial stages in the Trophee Centre Morbihan and LVM Saarland Trofeo.
Closer to home he won two of the three stages and GC in the Junior Tour of the North West, a performance witnessed by my amigo, Dave Chapman who was down with the Scottish Spokes Race Team – Dave couldn’t help but be impressed by the young Welshman.
Josh also won the British Cycling junior Time Trial Championship, beating Bradley Wiggins’s son, Ben.
We caught up with Josh the day after he took the bronze medal in the British Criterium Championship at Kirkcudbright on a Friday night in late June against World Tour riders and specialist criterium riders.
We opened by congratulating him on that one,
“Yeah, I’m happy with that, I tried to get away late in the day but was brought back – I think third was as good as I was going to get.
“No road race for me though, I’m too young.”
And congratulations are in order for your Commonwealth Games selection for Wales – what will you be riding?
“The team pursuit and individual pursuit and perhaps the points; I’d like to ride the time trial but apparently I’m too young – but Cycling Wales are going to see if I can receive dispensation to compete.”
Silver in last year’s World Junior Time Trial Championships, 20 second back – tell us about that please.
“It was a nice Worlds in Flanders but a bit of a weird course, very technical to start then long straights, the corners suit me, I can make up time there but I was beaten by 20 seconds, that’s quite a stretch.”
Two European junior track titles last year, team pursuit and omnium is that where your future ambitions are?
“I like the track, yes – but I’m ready to build a career on the road as soon as I can.”
After your strong rides in continental races you must have had approaches from pro teams?
[VeloVeritas believed at the time he had actually reached an agreement with a top World Tour team but didn’t think it was wise for us to publish what could be mere ‘scuttlebutt’…
It was indeed ‘scuttlebutt’; we had heard he was going to QuickStep but he’s actually been snapped up by the mighty INEOS team, continuing the trend for young talents to skip u23 and go straight to the World Tour.’]
You beat a famous name to win the BC time trial title in. ‘Wiggo Junior’ – his son, Ben.
“I was happy with that one, it was a nice course, lumpy – I prefer that, technical parcours, the UCI type time trials rather than the out and home drag strips.”
Are you still riding for the Belgian FlandersColor Galloo development team and how did that come about?
“Yes, I ride for them and the Wales Academy, I knew the team through one of their DS.
“With Covid last year there were no UCI Nations Cup races so to get rides on the continent I had to be in a club.
“I’ve stayed with them this year.”
Who coaches you and what’s the ethos?
“Stuart Blunt is my coach, he was a very successful cyclo-cross rider in his race career; the training is a mix, long rides and specific short efforts.
“I like to keep the two separate, I prefer not to do efforts as part of the distance work.
“I train somewhere between 15 and 20 hours each week, currently I’m preparing for the European u23 championships and the Commonwealth Games at the end of July – I’m doing a lot of work on my standing starts for that.”
Road, track, time trials, which is your favourite discipline?
“I like the Classics type of road race best but I enjoy time trials.”
The Europeans, The Games, what else is on the agenda for 2022?
“My main focus is on the u23 Worlds Time Trial Championships, I’m hoping to have a training camp in Girona to prepare for that.
“Closer to home I have the National Road Race Series.”
Time trialling at top level requires the fancy kit; are you an ‘equipment fanatic’ or do you just ride what you’re given?
“I do like nice equipment and it’s important to get yourself as slippery as possible for time trials – but the good kit is just so expensive.
“But for the Worlds I’ll be doing the whole bit, waxed chain and all.”
‘One race at a time,’ but are the Paris Olympics in your sights?
“Hopefully but there are a lot of good guys with the same idea.”
And I must ask; you rode a 100 mile time trial as a 12 years-old in 4:49, a few years back – it caused a stir, will you ever ride another one?
“There’s one I have my eye on after the Worlds – I might ride it, just for a bit of fun…”
* * *
Subsequent to our interview Josh took a trio of bronze medals at the European Junior Track Championships – Individual Pursuit, Team Pursuit and Madison in July.
Then in August he finished 12th in the Commonwealth Games Individual Pursuit, seventh in the Points Race and was in the Welsh team which finished fourth in the Team Pursuit.
But this month came the crowning glory – rainbow bands.
Here’s what he had to say after the race:
“It hasn’t sunk in yet, it’s a relief after so much hard work. I was annoyed after finishing second last year, so I’m pleased with this.
“I went as hard as I could over the first climb then accelerated downhill and with the tailwind.
“But I was hurting.
“When I started to see Verbrugghe (the Belgian rider who started ahead of him) I eased off a bit too much so kicked through the last sections.
“It was all about perfecting the corners.
“It’s great after a bad start to the season with injury and feeling empty.
“Also, I had a bit of food poisoning at the European Track Championships and was annoyed that I couldn’t help my team in the team pursuit.
“But it’s been flat-out since then to bring GB a rainbow jersey.”
CHAPEAU! young man.