Recently we interviewed Oscar Onley regarding his stepping up from the DSM Development team to the World Team DSM squad.
The even better news is that he won’t be the only Scot racing at the highest level of the sport.
After a strong season with the Swiss Racing Academy, and enjoying the support of The Rayner Foundation, Edinburgh’s Sean Flynn will be joining his countryman at the Dutch team, riding alongside big name riders like Romain Bardet and John Degenkolb.
We caught up with Sean as he prepared for his World Team debut.
Congratulations, Sean – we thought you may have gone to Tudor Pro Cycling due to your association with the Swiss Racing Academy team?
“I’ve actually been in discussion with DSM since the SEG team, where I was in 2021, finished up.
“I chose to go to Swiss Racing Academy rather than DSM Development for season 2022, that was a nice experience but Tudor are at Pro Team level whilst DSM are World Team.”
DSM have a the reputation of running a very tight ship where everything has to be, ‘by the book?’
“In my opinion a lot of the tales one hears are over the top, I’ve been working with the team for several months now and, ‘yes’ there’s attention to detail but surely that’s what you expect at this level of the sport?
“Perhaps some of the older riders who have moved on weren’t so keen on change but I’m someone who likes structure in what they do and am happy with things.”
Have you met all your team mates yet?
“Yes, I’ve met everyone at the team camps in December and January, I’ve received all my clothing and my bike – the new Scott Foil, which is a nice machine.”
An over-used term but your team mate John Degenkolb is a ‘legend’ of the sport, a Milan-Sanremo and Paris-Roubaix winner.
“I’ve spent quite a bit of time with him – I’m on the ‘classics group’ with him so will be riding a similar programme.
“It’s cool to have a guy like him to learn from, he has so much experience.”
And you’re not the only Scot on the team, Oscar Onley is there too now.
“Yes, it’s nice to have another Scot on the squad, I only really knew him to say, ‘hello’ to until now, as you know I came from a mountain bike background so I didn’t see much of him earlier in my career.
“We’ve not been in the same training groups though, he’s in the ‘climbing group.’”
What’s the situation with coaching at DSM?
“There are two aspects to it; we have a trainer who works with us day to day, the coach oversees our programmes and discusses tactical aspects… it works well.”
Where’s ‘home’ on the continent?
“Girona in Catalonia, there are a lot of professional riders here, it’s a nice community.
“The weather is good, pretty dry, and significantly warmer than Northern Europe.
“I’m actually in the same building as fellow Scot Mark Stewart, who’s with Bolton Equities Black Spoke, so that’s nice.
“The training roads are good and so are the coffee shops – the joke is that you have to be careful that all your training rides don’t turn in to coffee shop runs!
“Seriously though, it’s a nice place to be, when you’re at training camp in Calpe the weather is good but there’s not actually a lot to do when you’re off the bike.”
How does the 90 days out of 180 affect you?
“I’m one of the lucky ones, my dad is Irish; I have dual nationality so I have an Irish passport.”
Looking back at your 2022 results; 10th in the Commonwealth Games against World Tour opposition.
“I was happy with that, it was the icing on the cake.
“When we saw it was liable to end in a sprint we committed to helping Finn Crockett. He got the bronze so for me to be in the top 10 was a bonus.
“It was cool to be racing against guys at that level with a Scotland jersey on my back – I think we punched above our weight that day.”
You rode a strong Tour of South Bohemia; seventh, second and fourth on stages and fourth on GC.
“Being honest, that was a bit of a surprise, I knew I had good shape but contracted Covid after the Commonwealth Games so I came in fresh.
“I was disappointed not to win the last stage – I made an error, going too early. I still have a bit to learn, I’m good at ‘being there’ with top five and top 10 finishes but I need to convert those into podiums.”
You rode the Worlds but that was such a strong u23 field – Fedorov, Vacek, Waerenskjold, Kooij…
“I felt really strong in the race but we didn’t come away with the result we wanted, we were riding for Sam Watson on the day, he’s one of the best u23 riders around but Sam and couple of the guys on the team didn’t have their best day on the bike and he finished in 14th place.
“I enjoyed the experience, it’s all part of the learning curve getting ready to step up to Elite level.”
Fourth in the u23 Paris-Tours was a nice result.
“That was probably my favourite race of the year, I like the cobbles and gravel.
“It takes me back to my MTB days and I don’t mind the positioning fights going into the sectors.”
How is the preparation for 2023 going?
“My season finished late, mid-October so I had a couple of weeks off then started in November; since then it’s been good, getting in consistent blocks of good training.
“I’m interested to see how it unfolds now that I’m stepping up a level.”
Do you know what your programme is for the 2023 season?
“We have an idea but we’re not allowed to disclose it; I’ll be riding a few Classics – Flemish and Ardennes and some short stage races; it’s a good variety of races.
“The team and I are keen to see how I settle in; at mid-point in the season we’ll re-evaluate and plan the second part of the season…”
VeloVeritas wishes Sean well and will be keeping a close eye on the results of the races he rides.