Feature Interview: Jake Stewart

Chat with the junior who was 5th in the Junior Men’s World Road Race Championship, Jake Stewart

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Feature Interview: Jake Stewart

Chat with the junior who was 5th in the Junior Men’s World Road Race Championship, Jake Stewart

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Q: Fifth in the worlds is a pretty special result for any rider – is that the best result ever for you?
Jake: It is definitely my most notable result in a UCI race on the road. I was also part of the team that was 2nd in the Team Pursuit at the Euros and 3rd in the Euro’s Madison. I knew I had good legs going into the Worlds and was carrying some good form from the GP Ruëbliland and a national B that I won the week before.

Q: The finales to the races in Bergen were all over the place; what are your memories of that final 10k – the climb to the finish
Jake: I knew I had to get over Salmon hill in the top 10/15 riders. Tom (Pidcock) had a dig on the final climb to try and get across to the break but he was shut down.

Once over the climb me, Tom and Jacob regrouped and had a discussion. The gap to the break was starting to come down but we didn’t want to ride too early because Mark was still up the road. As we hit the final 3k, Jacob got himself on the front and rode hard enough to ride down the nations that were up the road because by then the break had fragmented.

He received some help from the Germans also. We caught Mark with about 500m to go and from then on Tom took over from Jacob on the front. Tom hit the final right hander with me on his wheel flat out, we was stalled by one of the Italian lads that had been spat from the break and then I launched myself from around 250m to go. An Italian and German got past me but I managed to kick again and came through with fast finishing speed as I committed to a small gap to edge out anyone else.
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Q: You mention a sketchy race – in what way was it?
Jake: There were bodies everywhere on the deck even from KM0, possibly because of nervousness between the riders because it’s the world champs but there seemed to be always people on the deck – you were never much more than 10 riders away from a get down throughout the race. We all had some pretty close calls and I hit the deck early on, luckily nothing major though and I was still good enough to race hard.

Q: How did GB approach the race with such a strong team? No one leader?
Jake: We knew we had a strong team going into the event, and we knew that anyone us could win. We’ve discovered over the year as a team that if we have one rider, (not necessarily the ‘leader’) but more of a spokesmen calling the shots for the team, then we get a better result.

For the worlds, this was Tom. Even so, everyone knew Tom had good legs as he proved in the TT so he was the main protected rider, as well as myself, as we knew that I could go well in a bunch gallop.

Fred was still recovering from a nasty get down in GP Ruëbliland so he was protecting me and Tom in the bunch. Mark has had good legs all season and he’s proven he can win from a breakaway so that’s exactly how Mark rode the worlds and he was so close to making it work.

We was all gutted for him when we caught him with 500m to go after he’d been out all day in the break for 100k! Jacob was the same as Mark, but unfortunately he missed the early break. However this meant we had Jacob for the lead out where he rode so strong!

Q: Any nerves on the start line or just another race?
Jake: Just another race really. I didn’t want to put pressure on myself as I knew I had the best form that I’ve had all year, so I stayed as focused as possible and just treated it as any other race.
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Q: Any special training leading up to the race?
Jake: Not particularly ‘special training’ but I had a good strong few weeks in the lead up where I was putting in some 17-20 hour weeks on the road.

Q: Any time in the race to relax or was it pretty full on focus the whole time?
b The nature of the circuit meant there was never any let up. Racing was full gas and there was never anywhere that you could relax. Even early on in the 40 or so K to the circuit where you should have even able to relax, because the riding was so sketchy, it meant that you was focused throughout.

Q: For a sprint like that, did you rely on teammates or instinct to follow the fastest wheels?
Jake: The way the sprint panned out meant that I wasn’t even following wheels. I was lead out by Jacob and Tom and me and Tom hit that final right hander with 300m to go on the front, the sprint was slightly downhill so I knew I could open up slightly earlier than usual.

It was left for me to initiate the sprint as the Italian wouldn’t have because he had a team mate up the road, still within touching distance of being caught – he was caught dead on the line but held on for 2nd and the German was sat on the wheel of the Italian, who is the European Champ, which was won in a bunch sprint, so he knew he had the fastest wheel.

The Italian and German got around me where I was stalled slightly. I then followed their wheels and then committed to a gap late on as a last ditch effort to still race for the podium.

Q: Who did you have looking after you at the race and how much were you able to get information from the GB car/pits
Jake: Stuart (Blunt) was looking after us throughout the race from the car. We had carers in the feeds giving bottles and then had a chalk board in the GB pits with time splits and information on of how many riders/how many GB riders etc. was in the break. This meant we had a pretty good idea of what was happening in the race.

Q: Does a result like that give you the confidence now to pursue a professional career on the road?
Jake: I had confidence in pursuing a professional career anyway, just a result like this makes me much more noticed and gets my name around.

Q: Any other major highlights on the road/track this season?
Jake: Although I haven’t had that many good results on the road this year, besides a 3rd on a stage at the Karlsberg Tour in Germany earlier on in the season, I’ve had good legs throughout.

Roubaix saw me in the winning break until Tom got across and then I suffered from cramp late on through the race which meant I got spat from the break. On the track, I’ve had a good season, myself, Joe Nally, Fred Wright and Rhys Brittion finished 2nd to an extremely strong Russian team at the European Track Champs in the TP. Me and Rhys Britton then finished 3rd in the Euros Madison champs, and then we went on to defend our National Madison title a week later in Newport for a 2nd year in a row.

Q: Finally, what are the plans now for next season, team? – are you senior or still Junior?
Jake: For now, a few weeks off the bike! As next year sees me move up to under23, I hope to stay within the GB setup (he will be) and continue to race on both the road and track.



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