Feature Interview: Ed Clancy


Talking to Gold medallist Ed Clancy today about his third straight Olympic title in the Team Pursuit

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Feature Interview: Ed Clancy

Talking to Gold medallist Ed Clancy about his third straight Olympic title in the Team Pursuit in a final against Australia which was real edge of the seat stuff, not just for them but us as well!

We haven’t however seen a lot of him in the past season except on TV as his come back from injury and training for the Olympics has taken over his life, something we chatted about in this interview. However, a quick message to Ed this afternoon and I got the surprise quick response due to him having just arrived at Heathrow and having some time to talk.

So here’s that interview and my thanks to Ed for his time. First question was how is everyone now the Games are over for them? “It’s been difficult since London so everyone is happy and buzzing that we’ve had these results“ he replied.


For me, a really strong memory is that of Ed, a cheeky teenager at the 2005 Worlds (above), riding the first round of the Team Pursuit and being part of what became a world title winning team. So I asked what’s changed since then?

“Things have evolved since my first worlds” he explained. “I’m a different person like going from doing what you’re told to being more proactive with the team, the logistics and so on. I still enjoy racing my bike though like I did then and it was quite fitting that the Team Pursuit was the first World Championship event I rode in and have since then built my career on it” said the rider with three Olympic Golds in the event and not many people can say that (need to research that but is he the only one?)!

“For me, this was the best one of the lot of them what with all the problems I had with the back in the winter and then losing the World Championship final like we did (photo finish). It feels so good to be back on top of the game”.


World champion (Omnium), Ed is one of the best ever track riders

On top indeed with a probably the best final of all time in a Team Pursuit. So ragged, so passionate, and out of control it was a stunning bike race. How did Ed view it?

“That final was stressful! The qualifying round went to plan and it was almost too easy with such a big margin. Then in the semi final, we were not really pushed to go fast and we got to the final and you could probably forgive us for thinking we’d seen the best of the Aussies who had a tough fight to get the gold medal ride off but you can never right them off”.

“You can certainly never right off Jack Bobridge. They put Jack into the final with fresh legs and they ran a risky strategy of having just three riders for a lot of the race but Jack did some massive turns early on that really put them on the front foot and both teams were riding to a stupid schedule”.

“We were riding 3.47/3.48 pace, which is way quicker than we could sustain in reality and the Aussies were going even quicker! So it was a case of who was going to blow first. It shows the character of the Aussies and I have a lot of respect for them that they were not going to go down without an absolute bun fight. It’s the way they are and what’s made them so successful”.


2007 and one of the World titles Ed has won with Wiggins. Also there is the Women’s coach nowadays, Paul Manning and road star Geraint Thomas.

Ed then explained that in training, the GB way is to analyse things, look at graphs and work out a cruising speed that in theory they can maintain until the last lap. But says Ed “if we’d done that, the Aussies would have smashed it, tried to get in our slipstream and then hope for the best so we had no option but to try and match them”.

“It was an ugly team pursuit, the strategy and so on all went out the window. We were all throwing in half laps in the final and if we’d ridden a better schedule, we could have probably put a ‘49’ on the board but that’s Team Pursuiting and racing a team and what made it a great spectacle”.

Ed (second wheel) hangs on to Brad Wiggins as he puts the hammer down in the sprint to the line in the Team Pursuit

“As horrible as it was at the time, it was one of those races you’ll tell the grand kids about and have a bit of a laugh!”
Talking about reasons why the team do raise their games for the Olympics, we talked about how the ‘A’ team comes out for the Olympics with all the guys like Bradley Wiggins this time, who are motivated by doing the big one as Ed will be like next time in Tokyo.

Ed added the equipment they had this time right down to carbon shoes which we saw at one of the crits after the selections had been made for the Olympics all goes to helping them go faster.

“These are marginal gains and not a complete game changer” he explained. “For the Olympics, everyone at GB drops everything to do the Olympics to the best of their ability. We, as a programme and as riders can’t say that happens for the Commonwealth Games or World Championships. We simply don’t put a lot of emphasis on the other events that other nations do”.

“We’re pretty unique that we are solely funded for the Olympics every four years. It makes sense then that we put the majority of the budget into and all our focus and energy into the Olympics in a no compromise situation”.

About their training, Ed says he’s not sure they trained harder for these Olympics but that it was different. “Heiko pushed the endurance side of things more than any other coach has done and that has sacrificed a bit of top end power perhaps, and I’m not sure if that is a good or bad thing because it worked better for some riders than others, but as we broke the world record, it can’t have been such a bad thing!”

“But it felt like everything only clicked with a couple of months to go. For the London Olympics, we had the one coach with us for much of that Olympic cycle and it felt like everything was in place well before hand like we knew what the team was going to be for example.”

“But it was different this time. The line-up kept changing between World Cups and World Championships so it was only with a few months everything was in place. We’d only been working with Heiko remember for 18 months max which is a pretty short period of time”.


Back in 2004 at the Newcastle track in Staffs and the GB academy including Ed, Cav, Matt Brammeier and Geraint Thomas in Team Pursuit training

The Cav Factor?
I then asked about the ‘Cav’ factor. One of the things the media whipped up during the Games was Cav allegedly being upset at not being in the Team Pursuit line up.

Cav and Ed go way back and we chatted about the days at Newcastle on the outdoor track with ‘Rodders’ (Rod Ellingworth) doing the Team Pursuit drills over and over. So I put it to Ed, was keeping the line up just about working with guys who were all in the groove with each other in the event, a well oiled machine and that there was danger in taking riders out and bringing others in?

“Exactly. As you know Team Pursuiting is about being physically strong but it’s also a bit of an art as well and the guy on the front is only valuable to the guys behind if he’s doing the smooth team pursuit line, getting his changes right and there’s a lot to be said in keeping the same line up and saving energy.”

“There was a lot said this time round because Cav, who’s a big name, was there and getting a lot of attention but in Beijing and London Olympics, we used four riders so for GB its nothing unusual. The girls did the same in their Team Pursuit.”

“The Aussies had six guys there which they could use for the Team Pursuit and that has its pros and cons. The pros are you can put fresh legs into the final but the cons are you if you get a guy that’s nervous there or you’re not sure how their form is …. When you qualify three seconds ahead of the next team why take the risk? So there were a lot of reasons for keeping the same four.”

“I’ve known Cav a lot of years and it would have been nice to have got the gold medal together after all those years in the academy. Despite him pulling out of the Tour early and putting in all that work, it was always going to be difficult although I’m sure he could have physically been capable of riding that semi final but the selectors wanted to play it safe”.

Taken over his life
The Olympic cycle however is now over for Ed and life can get back to normal for him and his teammates. I suggested it’s probably taken over his life in 2016 and Ed replied “big time”.

“It really does with friends and family. I can’t remember the last time I saw my parents or friends outside of cycling. Everything goes on hold and you become so absorbed with that one goal. So hopefully now is the time to do some catching up and getting out on the trials bike and mountain bike, and enjoy life a little before it starts going again.”

“To be honest though, I miss the bike already! I have had the best part of a week off it and not touched the bike and feel there’s a void in my life!”

Never fear though, Ed will be back racing soon. “I’ll be racing at Revolutions and a couple of six days because I want to enjoy racing my bike. I want to step away from the Team Pursuit environment and enjoy racing”.

“My last race I think will be Tokyo, so I want to hit that Tokyo Olympic cycle fresh, ready to go and fully motivated. Brad did it really well this time round, going off and doing his own thing for a few years before coming back at the Commonwealth Games with two years go and it worked out really well. So I’ll try and replicate that a little bit.”


Ed racing the road in Britain and winning of course!

… continued after advert


The Road
Finally, we had to talk about the road. He has always been a fantastic rider to have at the crits and some of his victories like those at Aberystwyth etc have been amazing to watch. He was, until Jon Mould’s run this year, the most successful Tour Series rider and I think deep down he wants that title back LoL ;-)

It will though just be great to have him around as he’s a great personality off the bike too. So after we heard him say on tele he wants to ride the road next season, I had to ask, what does that mean Ed?

“I’m going to sign for a domestic road team and I guess it will be John. It’s not done yet but I have had a great relations with Herety and JLT and I think that’s the way it will go. I want to take a step away from the track this coming season because the only thing that appeals to me on the track is the Olympics, the big one”.

“You know, I love the road, I love the crits, and I’m still on the way back from my back injury and I don’t want to rush through this winter. I want to give myself time to work on my rehab for the back and my core stability stuff and get in a solid road season. Then, perhaps the year after, make my way back”.

So welcome back Ed to the UK and thanks for the chat. See you at a bike race soon!



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