Interview – Tommy Bustard


Talking to winner last year of the Roy Thame Trophy Tommy Bustard who mixes racing at the top with full time work

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Interview – Tommy Bustard

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Talking to winner last year of the Roy Thame Trophy, Tommy Bustard, who mixes racing with full time work. Racing since 2011 when he was a fourth category rider racing with Velo 29, a local team on Teesside (North East), Tommy for a few years now has raced for some of the country’s top teams.


Last year for example, Tommy raced for UCI team Giordana and in 2015, along with a few of his 2014 teammates, Tommy rides for Velosure-Starley-Primal. Tommy’s cycling career started on a ride to Barcelona for charity in the summer of 2010.

“I just got hooked” Tommy says of his now love of racing. “I thought to myself ‘I like this and I don’t want to stop’. So I met some good mates in Leeds (Tom Barras, Scott, Moses, Josh and Nathan Edmondson) and after Uni, carried on”.

Tommy lives in the heart of cycling country, Yorkshire (Leeds) which is not that far away from where he was brought up in Yarm (Teesside). Year by year, Tommy’s results have got better and his national ranking has improved to the point in 2014, he was 17th. And, whilst a National ranking is not proof of his talent, winning bike races is never easy and Tommy won six!

“For sure, six wins isn’t easy. I know they are in ‘lesser races’ but like Tom Barras once said to me when I first met him, ‘a win is a win’. Winning is so so hard, not many people ever win. I was pleased with my progression and as a race tactician, I believe I have got smarter.

His wins in 2014 were throughout the season so I asked Tommy was there a part of the season he felt he was going the best? “Yes, just before Tour of Britain. In the Out of the Saddle road race which James Gullen won, that was the best I have ever felt on a bike in my life. I could do no wrong that day. Just a shame there was so many of my team there. There was a slight feel of the ‘hunger games’ about it with Tour of Britian selection up for grabs”.

Riding for a team like Giordana means the range of races a rider does varies a lot; from the Tour of Britain for those lucky enough to be selected to National B road races. So I asked Tommy what the difference is between racing a Prem and a National B (harder of course but in what way) and is a different approach required?

“Great questions. 1) they (the Prems) are longer by 40 – 50 miles; 2) they are faster, a lot faster; 3) they are normally hillier; and 4) there’s a bigger bunch so you have to be good in a group. They are like a boxing match for the first 45 minutes. You have just not got to be at the back before it kind of settles but never really properly. Then, you have just got to protect yourself. I see it as you’re a bag of sand in a Prem – just don’t let people put holes in that bag!”


Tommy admits that 2014 was a good season for him. “The main highlight was probably racing with my good mate Nathan and having Bill Nickson in my corner. That combination got the best out of me. For sure winning races was great but sometimes there is more to cycling than personal glory”.

Asked which race was the most fun in 2014, Tom replies, “good question! Hummmmmmmmm….I really enjoyed ‘Petes Race’ in Yorkshire, a 90 mile National B. The break which I was in, got brought back after 75 miles by the whole peloton”.

“I had never seen that before and over the last 15 miles, there were attacks left right and centre. I managed to get away with legend John Tanner and another rider. I was a little cooked by this point. John Tanner told me not to be soft though! I reckon I could of won that race but when John Tanner calls you soft, the thought of winning goes out the window and you just ride hard”.

“We all had a beer after and everyone was just looking at each other and it was like “that race was mega.”


Tommy loves the seaside, we’re sure of that, so here’s a pic from Aberystwyth!

A sad day was Tom’s crash in the CiCLE Classic on the loops around Rutland Water. I came past the scene and saw a rider on the ground in Giordana kit. At that time, I didn’t know how he was or who he was but later learned it was Tom and he was okay despite a visit to hospital. “That was grim” he said.

“I had some time off afterwards which wasn’t ideal but it is what it is. It made me realise how good cycling is as a sport. The support I got and all the texts and stuff. It took me a while to trust myself in a group again but it came back (slowly).”

Whilst Tom hasn’t been racing that long, he has been racing in good teams and in good races for a few years now. So when asked what races in the British calendar he looks forward to most, he replied “Without a shadow of doubt, it’s got to be Pimbo!”

“I generally don’t get excited for stuff like Lincoln etc but me and the lads were saying the other day how Pimbo is just a real traditional British race. Round an industrial estate in winter, sign on in a school, race, then go back for cake and a coffee. Perfect.”

Whether it’s Pimbo (CDNW League in the North West) near Liverpool or the Lincoln GP, Tommy was racing in 2014 for the legend that is Phil Griffiths (Yellow Ltd) and his manager at that team was former TI Raleigh rider Bill Nickson (Milk Race winner, Lincoln, British RR Champion etc).

When I asked what it was like to race for the team on bikes most amateurs only ever dream of having, Tom replied “it was literally a dream. I don’t deserve a Pinarello Dogma and I felt almost embarrassed”.

“I was thinking, this is the same bike as Wiggins rides LoL. Bill (Nickson) is a legend, just look at his CV. He didn’t make us do twitter or PR days etc. He was old fashioned and to be honest, that sat well with me. I believe I made a great friend there even if Bill does support Everton!”

“I suppose with reflection, the teams mantra was ‘let’s just win, not bothered who but let’s just try and win’. No one ever made me do anything I didn’t want to. It was a good team in that respect”.

Two of his teammates from that Giordana squad are in his new team and knowing Tommy and the riders, I said ‘I expect there will be a lot of banter in that squad’? “Ha ha, you know me too well” Tommy replied.

“I have never been paid to race so I don’t do it for money so a good laugh is more than 50% of why I do it. I like the crack of rocking up with your pals in the car and just having fun”.


A low point from 2014, the crash at the CiCLE Classic.

Tom, like most of you, works full time. “I am involved in a new venture in Hull this year which I am really excited about called “Lili Waste”, a waste management company. My boss and friend Matt Miles has helped me a lot with work and cycling. This will take up most of my time but this excites me as much as cycling does, so it’s fine. I am out and about but I love interacting with people”.

Asked what is the hardest part having to work – the training or the racing, Tom replies “This is an easy answer. I was going to give up cycling in November and December. I was enjoying going out probably a bit too much”.

“Because I work, I have to make the most of my weekends in terms of training but my mates are like ‘Tommy, we are off to, London fancy it’ and I’m like ‘well, I’ve got the Buckden run’”.

“I felt like a geek. I’m 26, why the hell am I freezing my bollocks off on a Saturday morning at 8am when I should be in bed. I found it really hard and still do. I crack all the time. Sometimes working and training means you don’t always have a life. Getting dropped, being overweight, not having Di2 all of those don’t bother me at all”.

“What really really gets to me is having no social life, something ‘us’ cyclists don’t get enough credit for. We give so so much to this sport and most get paid a nominal amount, it boils my blood”.

But asked if being a full time cyclist is a goal, Tom, as honest as ever, says “No, the way the cycling market is in the UK with one year contracts max, the lack of security does not inspire me to be a full time racer. I work and I enjoy that I am making a living off my own back”.

“Even if I was offered a ride for money, I would 100% keep my job. It’s a great job. British Cycling should have a duty of care for riders who need money to live and race”.

With a new team, what are Tommy’s goals in 2015? “I’m not going to be doing many National B and will focus on National A. It is time to try and step up. Maybe a top 10?”

Prior to any season, the winter is very important and Tommy’s hasn’t been the best! “It’s been a bit up and down” he explains in an understated way! “I cracked a little in November, my fault, I’ll hold my hands up and at the back end of December, I got pneumonia. Again, my fault as I burned the candle at both ends. I’m not sure what Tommy Bustard we will see this season as it’s going to take me a while to get back into the swing.”

“I train mostly alone as well. I am getting coached now as of mid-January and he has asked me to not tell anyone but let’s see if it works. I do 14 or 15 hours a week when I’m really committed but if I do that, I’m tired a lot”.

Finally, what tip does Tommy have for staying warm and dry in the winter on the bike? “Buy an Assos Air Jack 851. You can get them for £150 now. Best bit of kit you will ever own and it will last you for 10 years, maybe more”.

Good luck to Tommy. This weekend may see his first ride outside since getting pneumonia which is a pretty serious thing to have had. Fingers crossed the weather is okay!

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