Feature Interview – 3 Time Olympic Champion Ed Clancy

With the next Olympics on the horizon in 2020, we chat to three time Olympic Champion Ed Clancy about his goals on road and track

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Feature Interview – 3 Time Olympic Champion Ed Clancy

On Wednesday of this week, the JLT Condor team came together for a Christmas party and some talks from specialists in sports science and among the riders was Ed Clancy, three times an Olympic champion.

Ed, as I have said many a time, is one of the nicest guys in the sport but also a great achiever as his Olympic and World championship palmeres shows. Not only that, he was for a long time the winningest rider in the Tour Series and also a British Circuit Race Champion. Oh, and he’s won a couple of stages in international stage races too along with other victories like the Eddie Soens Memorial race.

Ed, on the right, has won multiple world titles in the Team Pursuit as well as Olympic titles

With Tokyo only a few years away now, I caught up with Ed to see where he is with the Olympic training and how much we will see of him on the road in 2018 … the answer was a lot which is great news for fans.

Ed was back in action on the track this winter and in the World Cup at Manchester, was part of the winning team there in a great time of 3.55.8 (for 4000 metres) and with two ‘new’ riders in the line up; Ollie Wood (4th in the U23 road worlds) and former sprinter, Kian Emadi.

The first question for Ed was therefore, is the break from the GB track programme over and is the focus now on the Olympics in 2020?

“The good news is the break has been where I wanted it to be. I took a year off from the track , from the Great Britain system at least, and it’s nice they let me do everything on my terms which is ace. I am back with GB for the winter but will have more freedom again in the summer and then this time next year, it’s a full on commitment to the track all the way in to the Tokyo Olympics.”

The track is where Ed has proved he is as good on the boards as his contemporaries  Mark Cavendish and Geraint Thomas are on the road but Ed has tastest success on the road as well, mainly in circuit races.

“There was no road racing at the end of the this year so it was case of ‘let’s get back on track and do the world cups’ and the good news is that the track world champs are fairly early at the start of March so I was like, why not, let’s give it a nudge”.

Looking at the times the GB team are doing already a few years out from Tokyo, the 3.55 in the Team Pursuit for instance, shows they are in good shape already or are they? I asked Ed how was the team looking based on that 3.55?

“When I really started to get going in the Team Pursuit, the Aussies had the world record from 2004, a 56, then I think we got it in 2008 at the Worlds and moved it on from there with a ‘53’ in Beijing and from there, it’s come down every Olympics since by a second or so. The 55 we did at Manchester is a decent time, or at least it was! The game is moving on.”

“We won the Worlds in 2008 with ‘56.2’, and at the time, everyone including us thought that was good and to be honest, we could have done that in Beijing and scraped the win but the game is moving on and there are more teams capable of doing it. There’s the Italians, Germans, French and so on, the Europeans are getting physically better and more professional at the track cycling side of racing”.

2005 – his first worlds and he rode the first round with his world championship winning teammates

By way of example, Ed said of the Italians, “the Italians are interesting because if you look back at the history, they have had epic individual and team pursuit results when they have won Olympic Games events time and time again so historically, there is a little resurgence there. They have always been a strong cycling nation but perhaps this is the start of a new era for those guys – time will tell.”

A look into the history books shows the Italians followed the Team Pursuit win by the Brits in 1908 with victory in 1920, 1924, 1928 and 1932 before the French had a few Olympiads where they won. Then in 1952, Italy came back and won at Helskinki, then Melbourne, and Rome. So as Ed says, as a country, Italy is perhaps on the come back!

“We have stronger competition now than in the past” adds Ed . “Let’s not forget about the Aussies, your favourite Larry (home team ;-) ) and I think we would be kidding ourselves to think if we can bang out a similar performance to Rio, we will win in Tokyo. I think we will have to go faster; simple as that”.

It is no secret also that the GB team has come under fire with all sorts of controversies in the last year or so. Part of that was the way the Team Pursuit coach Heiko Salzwedel was ‘evicted’ from the GB setup. So, I asked Ed, how have things settled down there?

“It’s good. We have new riders coming and riding well. I think Ollie (Wood) was the strongest rider in our Manchester ride which is decent considering his preparation after his 4th in the under 23 worlds, a little holiday and then coming back and he was good at Manchester so that bodes well for the future and for him and the track worlds”.


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“We also have Kian Emadi, a former sprinter, and the Team Pursuit is becoming more and more a sprint event and if that’s the way it is going to go, then we can’t rule guys like him out of the team so it’s good there is competition for places. I think there is more competition for places now more than ever.”

“We are trying new things because it’s sport and if you aren’t moving forwards, you’re moving backwards. There is a real good vibe in the place right now. I’m a big fan of Sparky, he’s doing a great job, and Iain (Dyer) is looking after us well at the moment. Whilst I think it is fair to say we are not going to see giant leaps forward in the next three months before the Worlds, I think we are on the right path; it is the standard GB way, the way it is intended to be and hopefully we’ll build the momentum up towards to the big one (2020)”.

What about Ed’s 2020 goals – will it be two events, the Team Pursuit and Omnium or the old favourite, the ‘TP’?

“The problem with the Omnium now” says Ed, “is that it is more of an endurance race than ever before with full on bunch racing throughout”.

“In the old style Omnium, barring a poor performance, I could almost guarantee we’d win the Flying Lap, the Kilo, have a decent pursuit and then try and hang in there in the bunch races. But now it’s just bunch races.”


One of my favourite images, Ed in his British stripes, at Aberyswyth for the Tour Series

“It’s a tricky one. I could perhaps turn my hand more towards more of an endurance side and work a bit more with the road and develop that side and potentially be a better Omnium rider but these days, that would be expensive because the Team Pursuit is moving in the other direction, more and more peak power and less emphasis on aerobic power and backing up ability. So for me, it is the Team Pursuit”.

And whatever happens in Tokyo, Ed is in a good place right now having had his share of success. “I have had an ace career. I could easily have walked away from the whole British Cycling programme and the track in general and continued to ride the road and enjoy myself and have a lovely carefree final few years to my career.”

“But I just want to give it one last shot what ever happens. I have had an ace time and won some good stuff but it would be great to go out in style.”

Whilst the public in general may know him more as an Olympic champion, Ed has also made his mark on the local pro scene. “I love the road too” he says. “I love the crits and get dead excited when we get on the team bus and head off to the Tour Series and things like that”.

“Even the road races where I struggle over the hills. It’s my seventh year (2018 will be the eighth) here (with John Herety’s team) and there’s a reason for that. I love the team. We have a great set of riders and it’s a good environment for me as is British Cycling and I enjoy that just much. I have nothing to prove on the track anymore. I may not be the best ever track cyclist by a long way but I’ve done alright… but I want to do it one more time.”

Above: Ed racing the 2017 Bay Crits and have a great time doing so 

Off Down Under
Next stop for Ed is a trip Down Under, a place he’s been to many times with GB and also with JLT Condor at the start of this year. Did he enjoy that I asked looking back to when I also visited them in my home country?

“It was ace to be honest and I often looked at those camps as the team have been doing it for a few years and I thought it was perhaps too much of a commitment to go out there and questioned ‘do we need that’ but I have to say it was pretty good!”

“Last year, the Bay Crits (not on this year) were proper alright and we had a good laugh there. Then we had a few weeks training in Bendigo and it was stress free. You got a bit of inner peace with some awesome training and then we went to New Zealand, did well there, and then came back to Australia before heading home. The trip set up the team for a fairly dominant Spring to be fair in the UK races”.
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It is not just a warm (or hot) weather training camp either for Ed as he does have his eye on a race there… “There was something on the website (Sun Tour) about it being a shame the prologue had to be shortened this year and my eyes lit up (1.6k).”

“I haven’t seen the course and it may be hilly or twisty but I’ll give it a nudge because in terms of distance, it suits me better than the rest of the race! You can’t underestimate how good the World Tour boys will be, as they’ll be there keen to impress in the first race of the season but I’ll give it my best shot”.

Asked to sum up his 2018, Ed says “the first things will be the road in Australia and the Sun Tour prologue before suffering through the rest of it and then use that aerobic conditioning when I get back on the track where I’ll add some track speed to it and do the Track Worlds at the start of March.”

“I’m going to leave the Commonwealth Games alone, and try and prepare the best I can for the Tour Series which will take over the whole of May before the national crit series and national crit champs and all the flat road races! I’ll take my chances when I can and when it’s not my day, I’ll do what I can for the boys”.

The course for the 2018 Sun Tour prologue — can Ed win that to kick start his season at the end of January?

“This year, I will keep in touch with the track programme to. My whole coaching is based around the end goal (Tokyo) so this summer, the road and the training for the track will tie in real well. It’s not like I will be looking to do the Tour of Britain or hack through Normandy like some of these guys will. I’ll be after the shorter, punchier races that should if anything compliment what I am doing on the boards.”

Finally, after looking at pictures of him over a decade ago in the GB Academy and here he is, still racing at the very highest level, as are his friends from that period, Mark Cavendish, Matt Brammeier and Geraint Thomas. I asked Ed, is the hunger still there?

“I think I am enjoying it more than ever” was the reply. “Mentally I am in a real good place right now. Better than ever. If I had this mindset when I was 23 or 27 perhaps, I could perhaps have done even better things. I am happy with life, content and stress free. Happy getting up and trying my best.”

And his best is more often than not good enough to ensure he’ll be a winner and we thank Ed for the chat and wish him the best in Australia and look forward to seeing him back racing here in 2018.



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