We’ve been following 20 years-old Kelso man, Oscar Onley’s progress for a few years now, from promising junior with Craig Grieve’s, Spokes Racing Team through to a ride with Van Rysel AG2R Mondiale, the ‘feeder’ team to the AG2R World Tour équipe.
Then last year he signed with the DSM [formerly Sunweb] development team – but in 2022 he’s no longer, ‘promising’ – he’s jousting with double Tour de France winner, Jonas Vingegaard at the top of savage climbs in the UCI 2.1 CRO Race where he took second place to the Dane on two stages and finished third on GC behind big hitters Mohoric and Vingegaard.
Prior to that race he placed second on a stage and seventh on GC in the tough UCI 2.1 Sazka Tour in the Czech Republic.
And that came on the back of a stage win in the ‘World Tour shop window,’ UCI 2.2(u) Giro Ciclistico della Valle d’Aosta in Italy.
And Italy has been a happy hunting ground for Oscar in 2022, back in June he scored a top 10 in another ‘shop window’ race, the prestigious ‘Baby’ Giro.
Oscar has enjoyed wonderful assistance from The Rayner Foundation for several seasons and when recently the news came that DSM had signed Oscar on a five year deal it was no surprise; the Dutch squad obviously recognise a good thing when they see one.
The DSM team to the outside observer seems somewhat of an enigma; riders like Roman Bardet have thrived there but Marc Hirschi, Marcel Kittel, Warren Barguil, Tom Dumoulin, Michael Matthews and Tiesj Benoit all left before their contracts had run their course.
‘There will always be internal friction as we coach our riders to make them better. Not everyone always agrees right away.’
– the team’s head coach, former Dutch Professional Road Race Champion, Rudi Kemna said in an interview last year.
We caught up with Oscar just before he left for Calpe, Spain and the DSM training camp.
Congratulations on the contract, sir – but I had read that you were going to stay with the DSM Development squad for another year?
“That was the original plan but I had a meeting with team management after my performances in the CRO Race and we came to the conclusion that I was ready to step up to the World Tour squad.”
Do you have an agent who assisted with the deal?
“The Dutch SEG company – Sports Entertainment Group handled all the legal stuff for me but the main terms I agreed personally with DSM management.”
DSM is a team where some riders thrive but others can’t handle the regime?
“That’s true, the team has a particular style which suits some and that includes me.
“I came from the Scottish Cycling programme which was really structured and that suited me as well, and I’ve been with the team two years now so I know what to expect.
“Some riders might want more freedom but they’re perhaps not looking at the bigger picture, a longer term view – you have to think about what’s best for you in the long run.”
I believe that DSM are very particular about getting training data back to the coaches promptly?
“I don’t think that’s unique to DSM, all the teams trainers and coaches want to see the numbers from your training quickly so they can do their jobs – but it’s results rather than numbers that matter.”
You’re coached in-house at DSM?
“Yes, we have a Spanish coach on the development team but now that I’m going to the World Tour team that will change and I’ll work with different coaching staff.”
How does your training load approaching 2023 compare to that for start of this year?
“It’s very similar, a few more hours but not really much change.
“That’s the beauty of being on a World Tour development team, it narrows the gap for when you cross over.”
Now that you’re moving up to the World Tour will there be much difference in your nutrition plan?
“I wouldn’t say so.
“I cook for myself and I try to get it right.
“We get a lot of guidance when we’re on training camps and I’ve learned a lot.”
What about bike fit, have DSM changed your position changed much since your junior days, I believe they’re very particular on that score?
“To be honest it’s not something I’ve thought about…
“They asked for my dimensions from my bike and we just kept it the same – no complaints!”
Any clues on your 2023 programme?
“No but we’ll be discussing that down at Calpe next week.”
You’ll be going on to the Biological Passport with DSM then?
“That’s another benefit of being on a good development team, I’ve been on the ADAMS [Anti-Doping Administration and Management System] since I’ve been with the team so I’ve been posting my ‘whereabouts’ for two years already.
“The only addition now is that I have to undergo four blood tests each year.”
And is the ‘pro life’ what you expected it to be?
“Not much has changed really, I’m still riding around in the rain in Scotland!”
Have you set yourself any objectives.
“Not really, I don’t know my calendar yet but my focus will be on learning from the team’s big riders and working to strengthen my weaknesses.”
Your advice for those wishing to follow in your footsteps to the ‘pro life?’
“Enjoy your sport – if you’re not enjoying it then it’s hard to go out in the rain and do four hours – that’s not fun but after you’ve completed the training for the day it’s a good feeling.
“And don’t stress, stick at it; there will always be riders better than you right now but think about the long game…”
Wise words from Oscar, we’ll be following his World Tour journey with great interest and wish him every success.