Rider Chat: Leon Gledhill – 2018 Vitus Pro Cycling

The team for 2018 is packed with interesting riders and Leon Gledhill is certainly that. Leon first started racing at 13 with the help of one of the sports well known figures in Mark Barry.

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Rider Chat: Leon Gledhill – 2018 Vitus Pro Cycling

The Vitus Pro Cycling Team put together by Cherie Pridham for 2018 is packed with interesting riders and Leon Gledhill is certainly that. Leon first started racing at 13 with the help of one of the sports well known figures in Mark Barry.

“My dad John raced mountain and road bikes internationally as a school boy into his mid to late 20’s and I remember riding an old school 650c wheeled road bike as a young lad, probably 10 or so, and hating how hard it was when I got off just outside my house and had to push it up a hill”.

“I think I have the KOM on that climb now LoL and one day I just fell in love with the sport really.”

Asked how he felt when Cherie let him know he was part of this team for 2018, Leon replied “It was fantastic news as one of my goals for 2018 was to step up to continental level. I thought I wasn’t going to achieve this as I had already planned to go to Belgium for 2018 but when Cherie contacted me, I was definitely chuffed to say the least”.

Like a number of riders, multiple Olympic champion Laura Trott being just one, Leon began his career in track sprinting with team GB in the development programmes as he explained to us. “I first got picked up by the ODP (Olympic Development Programme) as soon as I turned junior (17) and did one year of track sprint with lots of gym and track time while at college.During this time, I gained three medals at the Track nationals as well as a podium in a UCI track meet in Ghent (Belgium). I then found myself being advised by coaches to swap to track endurance and team pursuit.”
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Leon added that with his background in sprinting on the track, one of his strengths is sprinting on the road. “Sprinting on the road definitely is a strength of mine but I also like a bumpy finish too, something that reduces the numbers in a group”.

Leon’s interesting background in the sport also includes racing in the USA. “Being part of the Dave Rayner fund for the last few years allowed me to race and live abroad to chase my dream to be a professional. While being full time, I wanted to try a different path, something that wasn’t the standard Belgium pathway and having some family and good friends in California, I decided to take myself over there as soon as I turned senior and did a solid three years in the States.”

“I guess to cut a long story short, I wanted to show that there are many paths to reach a professional level and I learnt a lot!”

Looking back at his development days in the sport and going from being a junior and into the senior ranks, Leon admits the jump from junior to senior was harder than he anticipated. “I was doing a wide range of UCI events on the track and road as a junior, and I thought I was ready to step it up. I soon realized I was lacking the power after 4ish hours to match some of the older more experienced riders, but that comes fairly quickly.”

“I think if I was to give the younger lads some advice on the team it would be to not get demoralised if you don’t feel like you have that kick at the end of a long race. You’re young still and it’s key to get stuck in and gain that priceless experience”.

Asked what his favourite type of races are; crits or road races, Leon replies “for me a fast finish crit always gives me that buzz you just can’t stay away from, it’s like an addiction, but I really do love all aspects of racing, even track; just that feeling of trying to ride someone off your wheel, it’s an amazing feeling”.
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Although still very young, Leon has had many highlights in his short career. “Being California state champion was definitely up there, along with several wins in 2016 and 2017. Also, a 2nd place behind a teammate in a big race in Santa Cruz was nostalgic too as my dad did this race in the early 90’s and could never quite podium!”

Asked what his toughest race was in 2017, Leon says “Most definitely the Redlands Classic. This is a five day national level stage race in the USA with I think six continental teams competing. On stage two (mountain top finish) it was over 40 degrees Celsius!”

That sort of heat isn’t something Leon will have to worry about in the UK and on the subject of the weather here, we asked him how his winter has been on the bike? “Training is going really well. I’m working closely with good friend and coach Tom Murray (former professional) to get me ready for a tough season back on home soil.”

“I’ve been lucky enough to make good friends with the people at Siempre Ciclismo, a Spanish guiding company based in the northern Costa Blanca. I’ve been able to base myself out here for the majority of winter and the longest ride so far was around about 5 hours (150k or so), but for me it’s about consistency and getting those days in back to back.”

Our final question for Leon was to ask in an ideal world, what would he like to achieve in 2018 with Vitus Pro Cycling? “Win” was the quick fire response. “And show everyone what we are made of. We might be a new outfit but we have a lot of experience as riders and if we are clever and pool this knowledge and fitness together, we may well give the other continental teams a run for their money”.

Thank you Leon for the chat and we wish him well for the the Vitus Pro Cycling training camp in a few weeks



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