Interview: Gabriel ‘Gabz’ Cullaigh


A name to remember for the future – ‘Gabz’ Cullaigh (RST) is still a Junior but at the last Revolution raced with the seniors and did very well indeed. VeloUK talks to him …

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Gabriel ‘Gabz’ Cullaigh (RST Racing Team)

Gabz Cullaigh_2014_01Gabz’ was 14 years old when he had his first race, a five mile time trial with his local club, the Holme Valley Wheelers. It was through Holme Valley Wheelers, that ‘Gabz’ met Peter Root who is strongly involved in Yorkshire development of youth riders.

“Peter introduced me to the White Rose youth training sessions both on road and the track at Manchester” explained Gabz. “I also went along to club rides with another local club, Huddersfield Star Wheelers.

Everyone there was really welcoming and interested in me. I learn’t a lot from the riders there through chatting to them as we rode along and just the way they rode.”

Q: What part of the country do you live in?
Gabz: I live in Holmfirth in West Yorkshire, made famous from the TV programme ‘Last of the Summer wine’, and is one of the towns on this year’s Tour De France route before they head up Holme Moss.

At the minute I train with my team mates in Sheffield on the weekends which is only a 90 minute ride for me whilst in the week, I train local but normally by myself.

Q: What is the one piece of advice Chris Walker (former Milk Race winner and part of the team) has given you that sticks with you?
Gabz: Most of Chris’ advice stays with me, but whenever I wake up on race day and its chucking it down, I immediately think ‘half the bunch is already beaten in wet conditions’.

Q: You do all sorts of racing such as track & road. Do you have a favourite?
Gabz: Being a Junior, I really enjoy the long hard races. I think that is where my strength is shown to be. However, I also really enjoy bunch racing on the track and the Team Pursuit. I love the feeling of the effort in the Team Pursuit, mainly because it’s always eye balls out hard and it’s all about riding in a way that is best for the other three riders in the team.

Gabz Cullaigh_2014_04

Photo: RST Racing Team

Q: Are you pleased to be out of the Youth ranks and able to race on the open road with the juniors and senior riders?
Gabz: Definitely. As I said previously, I really enjoy the long hard races and that every course I race on is different in terms of parcour, whereas in youth racing, some circuits were way too similar.

Q: What was the highlight for 2013?
Gabz: Finishing 2nd in the Junior National Road Race Championships was the biggest highlight for me. Also finishing 3rd in the Junior National Road Race Series was quite special for me after only riding five of seven events.

Q: What event was the most fun to do in 2013?
Gabz: Probably the Milk Race in Nottingham. I started at the back which wasn’t the best on such a tight and technical course. I moved up a rider or two every lap by braking later into the tighter corners. I made my way into the top 10 riders about halfway through so it was a case of fighting to hold my position to the end of the race. It was carnage!

Q: How did you find it as a junior mixing it with Ben Swift & Peter Kennaugh at Revolution
Gabz: I had nothing to loose so it was great to get stuck in. It was hard of course, but I learn’t a lot from Ben, Pete and the regular 6 day riders that rode.

Gabz Cullaigh_2014_02

Photo: RST Racing Team

Q: Is the big goal to represent your country in Cycling?
Gabz: I am yet to pull on the full GB kit which is a shame, however I have represented Great Britain in Olympic Development Programme kit at the Axel Tour and the Giro Della Lunigiana which were both very special and proud moments.

Q: What are your goals for 2014?
Gabz: Firstly to represent Great Britain in Junior Nations Cups, then I would like to switch focus to the track for selection for the European Junior Track Championships. Getting into the Team Pursuit team would be a great achievement as the competition on the ODP (GB Olympic Development Programme) is tough.

Q: What’s the best thing for you being part of the RST Junior Men’s team.
Gabz: Probably the focus on being a team. There’s no pressure on anyone for results. It is all about developing each of the riders into working as a team. I missed my team mates last year as I rode most races by myself, so I am really looking forward to racing together again with Joey, Joe, Struan, Rob. It’s going to be great to have two more riders on board; Nathan Draper and James Hill.

Q: You have a Trigon bike to race in 2014. Best thing about it for you is? (wheels, groupset, weight, the way it feels to ride etc…)
Gabz: Its stiffness and responsiveness for sure. When I climb on to it for the first time after riding my winter bike, it feels unbelievable. The Cero RC50s I will be racing on this season are equally stiff and responsive so are perfect for Junior Racing.

Q:  You are still at school/college I assume? If so, when do you find its best to train?
Gabz: I am currently at college. I find it best to train after college in the week. I don’t have much time if I finish late because it takes me an hour to get home on the bus, however I finish early on a couple of days so I can get some good training in before it goes dark. The weekend is always a solid block of training for me, I do all my work at college so I have all day to ride my bike without stressing about doing work or revision when I get home, this helps with my rest too.

Gabz Cullaigh_2014_03

Photo: RST Racing Team

Q:  How many hours a week do you train at the moment and do you have a big day during the week on the bike or save that for the weekend?
Gabz: Currently, I will do 10-15 hours a week. I normally save the big days for the weekend because it turns dark early at the minute.

16. You train with the Downings etc chain gang – how do you feel that helps you improve?
Gabz: It helps because I push myself to continue doing turns with all the ‘hitters’ to prove myself. The chaingang route is fairly flat but more often than not, it’s windy so being able to practise riding in changing wind directions is very beneficial for the bigger races abroad I do and it’s a lot harder.

Q:  What is your long term goal in the sport – to race on the road in Europe?
Gabz: Definitely, but more so to race all over the World at the highest level.

18. How does being part of a team like RST help you?
Gabz: RST Racing Team helps me because I am with the right people. Chris has always emphasised that competitive cycling is about progressing. We therefore really enjoy the challenge of progression. I feel I couldn’t be in a better place.

Q: When you have a warmup to do, what music would you listen to?
Gabz: Despite what my RST rider profile says, I actually would listen to Eminem, Kanye West, Plan B, Rage Against The Machine and Jay-Z, not his other half Beyoncé.

Q:  Finally, what do you enjoy doing when not riding the bike.
Gabz: enjoy being at college with the lads in my course class. We all get on great so I look forward to seeing them. I am often spending time in Leicester with my girlfriend Grace Garner or she is here in Holmfirth with me.

Key Results

2nd Junior Points Championship
2nd Hatherleigh Junior Road Race(Nat Series)
2nd Junior Men’s National Road Race Championships
4th Junior Tour of the Mendips (Overall)

1st National Youth Circuit Race Championships(U16 Boys)
1st North West International Youth Tour(U16 Boys Overall)

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Other Results on VeloUK (including reports containing results)

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