Interview: Mark Christian (Raleigh)


Talking to one of the strongest riders in the peloton, Mark Christian, who will be in Raleigh colours again in 2014

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A former Great Britain Academy rider who rode for the legend Sean Kelly, Mark Christian is from the Isle of Man where he is based the majority of the time. Mark, and his sister Anna, both race in the UK and Mark says that in between blocks of racing, he returns to the ‘Rock’ to train on the home roads. It’s always been a great place to train with a good mix of terrain he says.


Mark started at the local youth league on the Isle of Man aged five and then started to compete in Britain from age 10. Here is his Q & A:

Do you have a favourite discipline (road race, crit, TT, Track) & why?
Mark: I always find it difficult to pick out one discipline as I’ve always loved to get stuck into everything. I’ve always enjoyed to mix things up and believe that you can use each discipline to benefit in another.

What has been the highlight of the 2013 season for you …
Mark: I think as a general highlight, rather than a particular moment, it would be returning from a long absence from racing, finally building some good form and being able to get back to being competitive in the races through the second part of the season.

.. and the low point – injury?
Mark: The crash in the Tour of Normandie which effected the early/mid part of the season. The length of time it took to recover from my hip injury was a huge frustration at the time. I was kept out of full training/racing for close to eight weeks before getting back towards any kind of full race fitness. I have to thank Team Raleigh who were very supportive and patient with me during this period.


Before Raleigh, Mark rode with Sean Kelly’s team in Belgium.

Which race has been the best one (most fun) to do?
Mark: I always love getting into the week long stage races, which although at the time are always difficult, there is always a great feeling of camaraderie with your group of team mates. I always think back to the academy days and my first experience of these kind of races, which was the Baby Giro in 2009.

How would you rate this year?
Mark: I feel the year could have gone a lot better without the injury setback and the knock on effect it had by missing the earlier races to build the form and race fitness. I was happy to be able to be in contention and competitive in most of the races in the second part of the season, but know where I can improve.

What would you say is your best asset as a rider?
Mark: I suppose I am classed as an all rounder and I would say my main strength as a rider would be my versatility and ability in all disciplines. I think it is always important for a team to have riders they can rely on for any type of race.


As well as challenging for the podiums, did you have a support role to play at Raleigh and if so, did that vary?
Mark: Early in the season at the Tour of Normandie, we had the leaders jersey for parts of the race where my role was to help control the race with the team to defend GC, which meant a few tough days at the front of the peloton. I also raced the Elite circuit series races mainly in support of the sprinters on our team. I actually quite enjoy playing this type of support role

Are you self coached or have help from someone with that?
Mark: I don’t have a coach for day-to-day training plans or programmes, but I have always been able to take advise/guidance from Mike Doyle at home on the Isle of Man. I was coached by Mike through my youth and junior years.

How many hours a week would you train on and off the bike in the winter?
Mark: A weeks training would vary a little from one to the next, but through the winter would normally be at least 20hrs+, and then a particularly big week could be closer to 30hrs.

Do you tend to train alone or in a chain gang? Cafe stops or straight through?
Mark: Most of the time I’d train with a group/club run, then I’d do my own thing whenever I have more specific work or efforts to do. Very rarely would we ride as a group and not have a stop, even if it’s at the end of the ride when the training is done.

What’s it like when all the hitters get together on the Rock for a training ride – free for all or a party on wheels?
Mark: I’d say when everyone is back we can kind of push each other a bit and when we all have that training mind-set, it sort of rubs off each other- so often when we are training together, it can just turn into one of those big, big training days.


Steve Lampier attacks and Mark Christian cramps leaving the door wide open for Mike Northey to chase down his teammate and go on to win the race.

What is the best thing about racing bikes?
Mark: I love the feeling of satisfaction after a good result or performance, when you cross the finish line after one of those super hard days. The hardest races are always the ones you look back on and have the best memories and stories to tell. Sometimes you cross the finish line and the early part of the stage feels like so long ago it was like yesterday.

And what is the one thing you enjoy least!
Mark: Crashing – The sport is hard enough anyway without the injuries and damage of a crash – and I’ve had my fair share… it’s a habit I’m trying to kick!

If you could change one of your weaknesses into a strength, which one would it be?
Mark: I think I can improve in the final part of races – try to improve that top end effort which could turn a good result into a win. As an all-round kind of rider, it could perhaps be a weakness to be a ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’! It’s riders who excel in one discipline who are more likely to get noticed

What will you be doing training wise during the winter? Will you break it up into phases of endurance, intervals etc?
Mark: I used the first weeks to get back into riding after the end of season break. After a couple of unstructured easy weeks on IOM , I started in November with the first phase in Spain to build the base of fitness and strength. I will then start to include a bit more intense work in the weeks leading into Christmas, continuing to build the endurance and base strength. The first part of the New Year will then include a team training camp with specific work and race prep building towards the first races of the season.

Will you race at all in the winter (cross, track, circuit races)?
Mark: No racing planned until the first road races of 2014


Madison champion with Simon Yates.

What do you enjoy doing most when not riding the bike?
Mark: Not sure I have one thing in particular I enjoy most, but I do like to switch off from cycling sometimes and have a lot of interest in other sports, mainly football. I’m also quite into my music and always enjoy a good socialise/catch up with mates – and a good night out when the time is right

Will you head for warmer weather riding before the team training camps
Mark: I have already spent a few weeks in Spain through November, with Pete Kennaugh and Joe Kelly, to get the first part of training done, and now I’ll train from home until the New Year and the team training camp.

What are the races you are looking forward to most in 2014?
Mark: At the moment my program with the Team is unknown but I will be looking forward to the Continental stage races and the major national races. The British scene seems to be improving in strength and depth all the time and with a change of format for the year ahead looks better. The Commonwealth Games on road and track will be a major target. The Isle of Man will have a strong team and it should be great to be a part of.

Finally, is winter a great time to relax or do you miss the racing already and are hungry to get going again …
Mark: I quite enjoy this time of year where the training has a more relaxed feel, with a good routine of hard work on the bike day after day without the feeling of any pressure towards how you are feeling leading into a race day. I quite like getting out of the whole cycling environment for a bit, but then once we are into the New Year, I will certainly be looking ahead and raring to get back into the racing – it’s what we love!


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