Talkingshop: Tom Scully – A long way from home but settled in nicely


Arguably the rider of the series, Kiwi Tom Scully has flown the Raleigh flag throughout the Tour Series and came out of it with a lot more fans than he had at the start

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Interview by Gordon Wiseman

Whilst Team UK Youth may have swept all before them in this year’s Tour Series team competition, the raison d’être of the SweetSpot organised extravaganza that dominates this part of the domestic racing calendar, Tom Scully (Team Raleigh) and former National Road Race champion Kristian House (Rapha Condor JLT) have fought tooth and nail for the honour of winning the IG Sprints Jersey with Scully clinching the gold jersey with the final race at Ipswich still to be run.


The 23 year old New Zealander started the Series in style taking second place in the opening round at Kirkcaldy but even his own placing was topped by Team Raleigh taking the team prize that evening.

Scully won the IG Sprints competition at the third round in Stoke and from that point onwards the youngster from Invercargill – the southern most city in New Zealand – was never outside of the top three in the chase for the gold jersey. But Team Raleigh clearly had Series long designs on Sprints honours with Alexandre Blain and Richard Lang also winning three rounds of the mid race competition between them as well.

Scully wasn’t content with headlining in that competition as he also won outright the rounds at Redditch and, last night, Ipswich as well as picking up a handful of top six placings. And in each of his wins he broke away from a leading group in impressive style to take the chequered flag on his own. In fact, at Redditch he also won the second of his three wins in the IG Sprints Jersey, set the fastest Costa Express lap and lapped most of the field!

And taking full advantage of his sparkling crit form, the London Nocturne was also recently added to Scully’s palmares in a photo-finish sprint ahead of European Pro Alex Dowsett (Movistar Pro Cycling).


After taking part in the team time trial at the final Tour Series round of the year, Scully talked to about his year so far, what drew him to racing in the UK in the first place and what’s his outstanding memory of the high octane British crit scene.

VeloUK – How did you get the opportunity to race in the UK?
Tom Scully – A friend of mine put me in touch with Cherie (Pridham, the Team Raleigh team manager) and we talked for a while by e-mail and Skype and the next minute I had a contract in the Inbox and things pretty much just moved on from there.

Tom’s reply makes the process seem very straight forward. His manager Cherie later provided more detail. “I was told that Tom was without a contract for 2013 and, having been put in touch with him, it didn’t take the intelligence of Einstein to see just from his CV that this guy had something”. That CV included Scully having ridden as a stagiaire with Garmin in 2012.

“He may not have got a contract with them last year but I can see Scully as a WorldTour rider. “When we talked via Skype, again, within 5 minutes I knew that I wanted this guy on the team. It’s not just how he handles himself on the bike. He was polite, professional and at the same time quite humble about what he’d achieved so far. And he wanted to be part of the team. So really it was a no brainer. Oh, and we both knew that coping with the British weather wouldn’t be a problem!”

VeloUK – You’ve played a fairly leading role in this year’s Tour Series, would you say that crit racing is your forte?
Tom – Crits, yes. Track racing as well. I guess I just like all types of racing but crits are hard and fast, short and sharp and that makes them enjoyable.

Note: Scully was the 2012 Oceania Games Points champion, winning on his home track at Invercargill and took silver in the 15km Scratch race at the same meet and won the Golden wheel at the Good Friday track meeting this year at Herne Hill


Photo: Antony Edmonds.

VeloUK – What was your aim when you came to the UK?
Tom – For me it was the new scene, something I hadn’t seen or taken part in before. I was always happy to give it a try and I always had it in the back of my mind that I’d want to race in the UK. Racing in Europe wasn’t the draw, it was the UK scene that attracted me. It was the unknown that was the attraction. I’d heard about the Criterium racing, the cold and the winter weather. Where I lived in New Zealand, the weather is pretty much the same as the UK so that wasn’t something that was going to put me off! So I knew that at some point I wanted to see what it was all about.

For the racing, it wasn’t just the Tour Series that I was brought on board by Raleigh. The whole season has different targets and that’s what we’ve been working on since I arrived in late January. We went to a training camp in Majorca and then my first race was the Eddie Soens. Since then the racing has been full on.

VeloUK – Being one of the few riders to have raced in all the rounds of the Tour Series, how have you found the racing?
Tom – It’s been good. For me, it’s been great to do the whole Tour Series as I’ve been able to see lots of new towns around the UK, different cultures and different cities. It’s not just been a geography trip around the country and that’s what good about it. Each town has had great crowds and they come out to support you and the racing has been fantastic.

VeloUK – You won the round in Redditch in dominating style, taking the overall, that night’s IG Sprints Jersey and setting the Costa Express fastest lap.


Tom – Yes, that was a good circuit with the bit of a drag up and then the short left hand turn to the finish. Mainly that night I was concerned about going for the Sprints jersey at that point but I found myself in the breakaway and then I got a gap, kicked on with about ten laps to go and just went solo.

The Sprints had all taken place by the time I made my break but I thought ‘here I am at the front of the race, I’ve got a gap, let’s just crack on’.

VeloUK – The team as a whole has done well in the race for the IG Sprints Jersey.
Tom – Yeah, I had the jersey earlier on then Alexandre came into good form, took it from me at Aberystwyth I think but it’s OK to lose the jersey to a team-mate. Then he broke his hand at Torquay and it went to Rapha and Kristian House so it was then my job was to take it back off him. I built up a good lead and won it overall at Aylsham with tonight’s race still to go.

VeloUK – So does that alter your plans ahead of tonight, you’ve got the IG Sprints Jersey so you can go for another outright win?
Tom – I don’t know right now, we haven’t yet talked as a team about what we’re going to do. An individual win is on the cards if a team result doesn’t work out. But I want to pay respects to the gold jersey and I’ll still line up for a few sprints as well.

Back luck strikes Raleigh again in Ipswich
After ten preceding rounds, the racing at Ipswich was full on with not only the final Tour Series race itself but also a team time trial and a knock-out sprints competition on the race schedule.


With second place in the overall team standings still to be settled, the team time trial was exactly what the team didn’t want with Russell Hampton falling and the whole team having to sit up to wait for him as each team’s final time was set by the fifth rider across the line. That result dropped Team Raleigh to fourth overall in the final team placings but that didn’t dent their competitive spirit.

Richard Lang won the Suffolk – Most Active County – Sprint with Scully again taking overall honours in the main event of the night. Still sweating after having only just crossed the finishing line he said:

“That’s completed the first half of my season but I’m really happy with that. For the first few laps tonight, I was just trying to pan out how the race was going to go. I was feeling good so I gave it a nudge and so I’m really happy to come away with the win. I got across to the break, thought I’d test them out to see how they were going. No one seemed interested so you’ve got to take these opportunities when you can so I rolled with it”.

VeloUK – How have you adapted to life in the UK?
Tom – It’s been great, fantastic. I’m living in Derby so there’s plenty of nearby hills for some good training. I’m sharing a flat with Rob Britton, the Canadian rider on the team and there’s three Australian’s in a nearby flat so we’ve got a good crew for regular training.

And the lifestyles good as well. The people there are English speaking, it’s easy to have a life outside of cycling and you can communicate with the general public. Lately we’ve been looking for a few things to do and some of the guys have started to do a bit of golf. I’ve been out for a hit with them and although I wouldn’t say I’m a good golfer, it’s good to get your mind off cycling for a while and that keeps you mentally fresh as well.

VeloUK – As a Kiwi, was one of the attractions of coming to Team Raleigh their predominantly black strip?
Tom (laughing) – When I came to the team I thought we’d be wearing blue like last year so when I got to the team launch it was a bit of a surprise to me! The black strip is a new look for the team going forward so it’s a stepping stone for where we want to go. Obviously we want to make progression, moving up the cycling ladder and whether this or next year, we’re an evolving team for sure and I’d love to be part of that.

VeloUK – Last week, in the middle of the incredibly busy Tour Series schedule, you won what is arguably the biggest one-off event in the British racing calendar, the London Nocturne, beating Giro stage winner Alex Dowsett. How was that race for you?


Tom – That was unreal. It was a fantastic environment racing round the Smithfield Market. I’ve raced in the dark before but I think that crowd was one of the best crowds I’ve ever seen before for a race. That was a really satisfying win and it’s always nice to pull off a big win like that.

VeloUK – That was a great win for you individually but the Tour Series is all about the team.
Tom – For sure. Up to now the Tour Series has been what the team’s focus has been all about. It’s on the TV after every race and all the people we talk to around the race and in the crowd, they’re all watching it, the fans and sponsors. My folks back in New Zealand and the whole support crew are watching links of the races on TV so they all know what’s going on, that it’s a team competition but there are still individual wins and they’re sending me heaps of messages in support. And that’s really great.

VeloUK – What’s your overriding memory of the Tour Series so far?
Tom – It’s been so hard just to keep the whole thing going. Each round just keeps creeping up on you. It’s the last round tonight and, really, we’ll be glad it’s all over because it’s just so tough and such a long series. My overriding memory? Probably lying in bed each night after a race at 3 o’clock in the morning, wide awake but trying to get to sleep because you know you’ve got another race, often the very next day.

VeloUK – What are your plans for the next few weeks?
Tom – A small break to recharge the batteries, get some sleep and strength back for the rest of the season. The Tour of Britain is a big goal for the team at the end of the year which we’ll build towards with the Premier Calendar races and we’ve still got the Elite crits as well. The Tour of Britain is a target for me but then it is for everyone on Team Raleigh. That’ll be decided at the end of the year.

VeloUK – So how would you sum up the whole of your Tour Series having won races outright and the Series long IG Sprints Jersey?
Tom – I’m pretty happy with my first Tour Series. It’s 11 rounds, a long series. But I’ll come back for more for sure.



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