Rider chat: Matt Bottrill (Eddie Soens Winner)

Before Matt Bottrill went and lapped the field at the 2019 Eddie Soens, we spoke to him about his season goals and helping WorldTour riders

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Rider chat: Matt Bottrill (Eddie Soens Winner)

Back in 1998, Matt Bottrill won his first Eddie Soens race during a period when he was one of the bright stars of the racing scene and he was representing his country. Twenty one years later, during the year when he will turn 42, Matt rode away from some of the best pros in the country and time trialled his way to an historic victory.

The week before, Matt had won a two up time trial with Brett Harwood explaining before the start of the Eddie Soens how he wanted an early season blow out before coming to the Eddie Soens and adding that it was good to get a race under his belt before trying to win the Soens race for a second time.

As we spoke, the wind was stopping people from putting up tents and the like and I asked about his strategy “I think the biggest thing this year is having the Vitus team with decent numbers but I will try and stay out there as long as possible and make those guys work to chase me down. I’ll try and not kill myself at the start. We can now profile our training and courses so we can kind of predict what times you can ride round where and what power that will take. I know it’s quite a lot!”

It seems like yesterday that when I spoke to Matt after a race, and we’d also talk about his work as a postman too. That was four years ago and since then Matt has built up a successful coaching business. Asked about goals on the bike, he explained “my priority is my work but I still have this desire to compete and it enhances what I do with the coaching”.

“You are always learning and things are evolving so it is good to be out there showing your face and I just love the sport. I have won most races and am 42 this year but I still love being part of it and whilst I can compete, I’ll carry on”.
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How does age affect a rider like Matt I asked? “It’s just the top end like the climbing” he says. “My sustainable power is alright so this circuit will suit me where I have this pedigree in time trialling. But, on the crest of hills, I have lost quite a lot. I have probably lost 40 watts on top end which is significant so it is easier being out by myself than responding to attacks all the time.”

Quite a telling comment to make half an hour before he went out and blitzed his rivals and lapped them! Like some others in the sport in Britain, Matt’s work in coaching and aerodynamics does not go un-noticed and he is now working with WorldTour squad Lotto Soudal.

“I have done a lot in triathlon with the pros like we coach some of the best triathletes in the world and I was out in Kona and I met Victor Campenaerts (who is attempting the hour record). We were having a beer one day at a Zwift party and I was talking to him about being aero and time trialling and it just went from there. So I have been doing some work with Lotto Soudal and helped Tim Wellens plan his time trial the other week so I feel a small part of that victory and I love that”.

“You feel part of something special doing this with teams like Lotto Soudal. I’m working with people and so I am not treating them any different to anyone else, asking the same questions like ‘what do you want to achieve’ and then breaking that all down. What they are trying to achieve is bigger than most people but it’s the same process in breaking every element down”.

Matt and his company has come a long way since he stopped being the ‘flying postman’ and now his coaches are working with everyone from commuters riding their bikes to getting fit, to people who are trying to set world records and win national titles. “Long may it long continue” says Matt.
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Going back to the question of his goals in 2019, Matt explains “I want to do more road racing. I have the time to do some of the longer rides now and this may sound harsh, but I don’t think a lot of road racers train hard enough. I know how scientific time trialling is, and triathlon too, but I feel road racing is still stuck in the past a bit and I want to be involved in progressing that”.

“I find racing helps me a lot, being out there in the field and listening to athletes. Doing it yourself is the best process and why I am here (Eddie Soens) is part of that. It’s good to be out there because I want to do it but it is also good to be learning.”

“I have come here to win” he said before the start. “I was 19 when I won this race and would it have been amazing to win it last year (he was second) 20 years later after the first one. So yes, I know I am going well so I am going to try hard again after losing last year”.

“In 2018 I had so many problems with my back it was basically a year of rehabilitation.” Those injuries are now behind him and he went out and won the race just as he said he would try and do before the race. “I was going to go out hard as it’s like a time trial today. Really fast down the home straight and then really hard into the head wind so it was a matter of knowing where to make your effort”.

“I’m blown away by the win 21 years after I last won it though.”

Giving an insight into how his coaching head matched up to his physical ability to win this classic race, he explained “something we do with all our athletes is optimising where the wind speed is, so they know how to lay the power down in the tailwind where being aero is important and using the power in the headwind which is where I was taking the time out of everyone”. See the post race video interview with Matt below and thank you to him for his time – good luck in 2019!



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