After getting glandular fever, Tour Series winner as a junior, Matt Gibson, is looking forward to getting back to racing regularly
Back from the brink: Matt Gibson
Back in 2014, a junior rider did perhaps one of the best rides from an under 19 rider in a major domestic race when Matt Gibson won a round of the Tour Series in Peterborough. It was a solo win full of class and much was expected from the GB rider in the future.
But, he was unfortunate to get ill with something many younger riders have had to grapple with including his boss at JLT Condor, John Herety. Glandular Fever.
2014 and a junior wins a round of the Tour Series, solo – Matt Gibson
What happened next was a season of over training making it worse and 2016 too was pretty much a right off as he had to rest and never managed to get much racing in.
For 2017, John Herety took the young rider on and when I visited the team in Australia, whilst the riders in the team were out in the heat putting themselves in boxes on the road in some testing training efforts, Matt was back at the house and having to deal with not being out there as well.
His team boss knows how difficult it can be dealing with a rider who has had glandular fever as he suffered it himself and so Matt’s training is seeing a softly softly approach during 2017 in the hope he’ll be strong enough in 2018 to return to the same training routine his colleagues at JLT are undertaking.
Not that Matt wasn’t holding his own in the racing after finishing second overall in the very competitive Bay Crits in Australia, no mean feat for the rider who is only 20 years old. Going back to 2015, in between the down time recovering from the illness and the over training, Matt was also winning bike races. Under 23 European Scratch race champion no less, as well as Team Pursuit champion and sixth in the World Scratch race championship.
Fast forward to 2017 and its white hot in Australia and Matt was back in form finishing second in the Bay Crits Series
On the road, he was also third in the British Under 23 RR Championship. He explained he also did some racing in Italy which was fun. “The few I did” Matt explained, “I got in the break in two of them and it was good to be back at the front and even if I didn’t finish, it was good to be in the mix of it rather than sitting in the wheels”.
“The Italian races suited that style of race for me. Pretty hard races mostly starting flat and then get hilly after an hour”.
On signing for John Herety, Matt says “John understands where I have been and has been really helpful and supportive. He’s giving me the support I need and is not too pushy in terms of results which takes the pressure off although I have to be careful with the pressure I put on myself”.
Despite the kids gloves approach to the training, Matt surprised many by racing around in a flappy white generic jersey from the race organisers after being given a ride in the Bay Crit series but not in the colours of his team. Was his result there a surprise I asked?
“I know I can do that sort of thing but I had no idea what the form was going to be like” Matt says. “So it was great to go out there and first day of the year get a decent result to start the year well and prove to myself I can be where I was. The crits come relatively natural to me so I don’t have to put in a lot of work for them but when I start doing the longer races, that will be much more of a test”.
Matt in the shade of the team pit at the Bay crits
Prior to the Aussie camp, Matt explained how he spent time in Girona where a lot of Brits go for long stays in warmer weather. “The weather there is good but nothing like the temperatures in Australia. Luckily Melbourne was cooler than it can be so that suited us British riders and made it more of a level playing field”.
The hardest part for Matt in Australia was staying at the team house whilst his teammates were out playing on their bikes. “On days like that, you can feel like you should be doing something and also you’re not sure everyone else understands where I am with this. You don’t want people thinking you’re soft”!
Fast forward a few months and Matt has left Australia and is back racing in the UK at the Eddie Soens after his Aussie training camp finished in February. A few weeks spent in Spain helped soften the blow of the change of scenery and then it was back to Britain to race and train.
“When I came back, the first few rides were a shock” he says. Asked was it hard training in the Aussie heat, something I only experienced from the comfort of an air conditioned car, he replied “most of the time it was alright in Australia”.
“When it got really really hot, it was difficult but most of the time it was easier to ride in the conditions there than these conditions here where the legs barely work some times because it’s so cold”.
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The Eddie Soens was the first of his races here in the UK and he says he’s looking to get stuck into some racing as it’s been a while since he raced regularly”. I haven’t had a good block of racing for two years now and so I’m looking forward to getting that under my belt and getting back to where I should be.”
“My goals for the year are to get back racing competitively and find myself in a good place the year after. The end goal is to turn world tour. This year I can’t get carried away so its 2018 I’m looking at. I’m still only 20, so I need to keep reminding myself I still have time”.
One of his goals is to be part of the team for the Tour Series in 2017. “The Tour Series is always good fun and I haven’t ridden them since I was a junior so it will be good to go back. I’d love to do a few, not sure how may I will get but will definitely enjoy doing it with the crowds”.
Thanks Matt and good luck for the coming races …
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