Feature: Ollie Maxwell (Saint Piran)

Third in the Jock Wadley and winner of the Roy Thame Cup in 2020, Ollie Maxwell of Saint Piran was in great form before the racing was taken away from him and everyone else – we chat

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Feature: Ollie Maxwell (Saint Piran)

Third in the Jock Wadley and winner of the Roy Thame Cup in 2020, Ollie Maxwell of Saint Piran was in great form before the racing was taken away from him and everyone else – we chat

Ollie winning the Roy Thame Cup

Ollie is a rider who has been racing Elite events in Britain for five years as a senior. Back in 2015, there were two podiums in Elite events followed by three wins in Elite races in 2016. A single win in 2017 was followed up by two wins in 2018 and in 2019, the lone victory was a good one, the East Midlands Regional RR Championship preceded by 11th in the CiCLE Classic International. 2020 is his sixth season as a senior and it started pretty damn good with two podiums (a win and a third) in two weekends.

“I don’t think I could have got off to a better start really” Ollie explained on Sunday. “That was perfect to get the confidence going. I don’t think I had the best legs but I knew I was going well. I’d been training really hard during the week so I was only going to get better from there on in and was looking to peak at the CiCLE Classic as that was the race I was targeting this year. It’s a race I’d really want to win or be up there in.”

Ollie has been racing since he was a youth rider (14) and been doing the top British races (Prems) with various Elite teams. He has raced with teams such as Metaltek Kuota, Neon Velo and Richardson Trek and is now in his second year with Saint Piran. All that racing makes him quite an experienced rider in the domestic races but there are ambitions still burning strong.

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Ollie comes from a place which is very well known for its association with the CiCLE Classic; Oakham. It isn’t however that race which got Ollie on a bike but his granddad who used to race a little bit and who gave Ollie his old racing bike to get him started. Ollie started doing local time trials and other races but nowadays, the big focus is the CiCLE Classic where he was 11th in 2019.

“I love the race and have watched it since I was 14 when you had the likes of Russ Downing, Zak Dempster and riders like Malcolm Elliott winning the race. I made my mind up when I started cycling I was going to race it and I have done every one since I was an under 23 rider. The motivation to train harder is always higher when I train on the roads the race is on.”

Racing the CiCLE Classic on local roads in 2019 with 11th

Ollie’s success on a bike is all the more remarkable when you hear what he has to do between races. “I work in construction with my dad laying pipes and stuff in the ground. I’m full time over the winter and then three or four days a week during the season. It is very physical with a 5am start to the day and finish at half six in the afternoon. I then get on the turbo for two hours and am in bed at 10. It’s that training and working that gives you that mental strength to want it a lot more and I think that was what happened this year.”

To get the best from him with this schedule of working and training, Ollie has a coach who he said knows him well after four years. “I soon got used to the turbo at night and then at weekends I’d really work hard at watching what I eat, stretching and taking the best care of myself I could. I am really strict with myself because I know these full time riders can rest a lot more than me. I think a lot of it is down to how much you want it mentally and I wanted the win so bad and to make a name for myself and get a lot of confidence from that.”

Asked what a week is like, Ollie replies “I have two rest days (from the bike) Monday and Friday and then Tues/Wed/Thur the training is all on the turbo with two hour sessions from about 7 to 9pm. On the weekends, I’ll do four hours on a Saturday with efforts and stuff and maybe go to the gym in the afternoon. Then Sunday, I might do a long ride which will be done solo as there are not a lot of riders round here but I don’t mind as I can focus a lot more.”

With all that turbo work, you could be forgiven for thinking that Ollie would use something like Zwift but no, he’s never used it. “I’ve never been on it and was looking at it this morning in case the country goes into lock down”.

Roy Thame Cup and Ollie leads the a three rider split off the front of the breakaway

For a rider who knows the big races around the country, and has shown himself to be handy in a race too, the ambitions still continue to burn brightly. “I have always wanted to be a professional bike rider but feel like I have missed the key results in the past so this year I wanted to put my name forward and win races. Be up there in the Prems/Tour Series and the big races and be one of the key riders. Then, in 2021, step up into a UCI Conti team. If Saint Piran go Conti in 2021 that would be great. The aim is be a professional bike rider and race bigger races. That’s a key goal”.

To do that he knows he has to win races and the Roy Thame was a good start to 2020 with the victory there. He is also part of a strong team in Saint Piran. Ollie is in his second year at the Cornish team and very pleased to be part of the squad. “Ricci (Richard Pascoe) is a good guy and Lamps (Steve Lampier) is good too” explains Ollie. “He’s been on a few really good teams and knows what he is doing in and out of racing. So it’s a good group of guys and that helps when you are travelling up and down the country to races away from home.”

Ollie looking comfy in the break at the Jock Wadley where he was third.

On the subject of having a super sprinter in the team in Chris Opie, Ollie says “I raced with Chris before he retired and met him at the team launch too. He’s a great guy, knows the British scene inside and out and had some really great results. It’s going to be exciting to be racing with him.”

His bike is a Colnago Concept with Ultegra Di2. “It’s a great bike, I love it” says Ollie unsurprisingly. “I raced on it last year and it’s the best bike I have raced on to be fair. Really really fast.” Asked about the set up for the gears, he says “standard 53 x 11 but I know some of the guys at the Roy Thame were talking about chain rings on the start, talking about having a 54 or 56 front chain ring and stuff. I was thinking after the race I’m going to get 54 but I’m leaving it for now because it worked out for me that day. It’s getting crazy but if you can turn it over, that’s great but if you can’t, stick to a normal chainring”.

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With the coronavirus now affecting racing worldwide, I asked for Ollie’s reaction to his training after the racing was stopped after such a brilliant start. “I am going to go about my training like I normally would. It will be more relaxed as June 30 is three months away which is a long time and you can get very fit in that time. I am not going to do anything rash like get out of shape and take a long period off.”

“I love riding the bike, enjoy training hard and keeping the mind fresh. I’m trying not to stress over it. The roads are awesome round here, country lanes with hardly any cars, short steep climbs, long climbs; there is always motivation for the 2021 season too and to work on my weaknesses.”

Ollie also said to help keep things fresh he may go and get a mountain bike as there are some really great trails around the Oakham area.

With talk of the racing possibly returning for the second half of the year in July and August, Ollie is looking forward to the races due to be held at that time. “We still have the Stockton GP, Mendips hopefully and Ryedale and if we can have them secured, that would be great. There are other races like the Wally Gimber which is postponed so if they can have that too, that would be great. We are down to do the Tour Series with the likes of Chris Opie and if that goes ahead as well, that would be great as that gives the elite teams something to focus on as we can’t do the Tour of Britain”

“I never used to enjoy it (the Tour Series) and have ups and down with it but it is great to do as they are the fastest crits in the world. I remember the first one I did and thought ‘I’ll hang on to the group easy’, and the first lap I was thinking ‘this is mental’. It’s crazy to do it and you have to be on the top of your game. You can’t be missing a few percent going there because they are on it from the start and it is so intense”.

Should we be lucky enough to have racing in the second half of the season, it will be interesting to see how Ollie gets on but as it stands, he’s already a winner in 2020. My thanks to him for the chat and good luck for the rest of 2020.

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