Best of Memories: Tom Murray (Minty)

Going through the pics in my archives, former pro Tom Murray is one of the riders who is constantly in the mix in races – he lets us in on what his favourite memories in cycling are…

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Best of Memories: Tom Murray (Minty)

Going through the pics in my archives, former pro Tom Murray is one of the riders who is constantly in the mix in races – he lets us in on what his favourite memories in cycling are…

It is always difficult to pick out one significant memory from my time racing because different things jump out for different reasons and when on form, I was always a versatile rider. This means I have a range of memories across road, circuit race and track as my seasons were always busy and full.

Obvious memories would be the national medals on the track (Madison) and road (Circuit Race Champs) and Yorkshire road race champion in 2010, along with high placings overall in the Elite Circuit Race Series. I always enjoyed that series as I felt it suited me as a rider better than the Tour Series as you could be an attacking rider and profit rather than be marked out due to team roles etc.

Alongside that, my first win across the pond in Belgium came in 2007. I had gone over there as a third cat rider with no real racing background beyond local 3/4 cat events so it took some determination and dedication to stick it out, learn, improve and then after what seemed like endless amounts of top 5’s finally crack it and win in Evergem – Belzele. There was also a win in the Tour of the North in 2007 which is probably the result which convinced me to really pursue racing and push on in the following years.

Living in Belgium was a great laugh as a young kid. We had a great group with lads from all over the world. Myself, Pete Williams, Tobyn Horton, Steve Lampier and others were all there and we went onto ride together and against one another across the next 10 years or so. Great times and friendships we still hold today.

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2008 was an eye opener.

I was still at University and I remember riding on the front in the Tour of Ireland with HTC lined out behind us and Russ Downing in yellow saying to Pete Williams, I’ve got an exam on Monday, what do you reckon Bernie Eisel has planned? Great season. Russ kept winning and we kept riding mile after mile on the front in races all over the place, a
great experience as under 23.

Malcolm Elliott’s five hour ride the day before the Tour of Majorca was a good one as well. Racing was easy that year, training with those guys didn’t half teach you to grit your teeth. I learn’t a lot and I’ve carried that forward even now with my coaching.

In 2009 I hit a real purple patch riding well in the Cintron Tour of Majorca and taking the Meta Volantes Sprints Jersey. I am not one for keeping sentimental things really, but I have the trophy and jersey at home still from that trip. It wasn’t so much the result itself, but when I left Pinarello RT at the end of 2008 and moved to Plowman Craven – Madison it was to take on a lead role and have the opportunity to prove I could lead a team at the UCI level so Majorca felt like confirmation that I was capable of it. I had also trained like hell in the winter so it was nice to see that pay off.

Once back, I carried that form into the UK races finishing a close second in the Soens and then leading for two out of three days in the Girvan Stage Race up in Scotland, taking stage 1, great times!

Most people know that the team unfortunately not long after that disbanded as a UCI team for a number of reasons and so there is a certain sense of “what might have been” when I look back to that year I guess, I wasn’t half flying. I ended up moving over to Belgium for the second half of 2009 and had a great start riding some decent level races, but crashed towards the end of June badly and missed the majority of the year afterwards.

Good times…

The real memorable times came at Sigmasport – Specialized. We had a great team from sponsors and riders through to those in the feed zones and rooster in the team car. Between 2010 and 2012 in particular, it was just a great time to be a bike rider and a great place to be. Matt Stephens led from the front as only Matt can with enthusiasm and panache. He knew how to get the best out of the team and above all else we just all got on and rode like hell for each other in every race.

Trips to France early season to the Tro Bro Leon and Tour de Finistere, the teams first Tour of Britain in 2010 and the Ride London Olympic Test event, when the race went past Sigmasport’s front door were great to be part of. I raced well, enjoyed it and never felt under the least bit of pressure on that team. From manager through to sponsor, we all mucked in together, winning and losing as one and always having a laugh at the same time.

Metaltek in 2013 was similar in a way. I remember in the Tour Series in particular with them we really got stuck in and proved a nuisance for the UCI teams. It proves that if you get the right selection of people all pulling in the same direction you can achieve some great things. Both Andy Swain and Matt Stephens were good at that. For that reason my best memories actually are not the results at all but, more some of the great times shared in the background.

I am lucky as I have plenty of those across all of the teams I got to ride for. Through my coaching company, Mint Cycling, I am collecting new one’s from a different perspective as well seeing Mark Donovan on his journey from junior to World Tour Pro with Sunweb and working as DS with Wheelbase in 2016 as we took the Northern Guest Tour Series competition with a young developing team a couple of stand outs.

If I was to give one picture to summarise those years at Sigmasport – Specialized it would be of us all digging the team van out of a snow drift in the Welsh mountains, with track pumps after five hours. You have riders, sponsors, owners and people who just threw there support in for nothing all there digging away, no big ego’s just a decent group of people having a great laugh.

Throughout those years, that’s what it was like. We all got stuck in, we all had a laugh and we never took ourselves too seriously. Something I impress on the young guys and girls I coach now is however hard it is and however much pressure to perform there is from yourselves and others, don’t forget to enjoy it. Don’t forget sometimes to step back and soak it up!

Thank you to Tom at Mint Cycling, 1:1 coaching programs, altitude training and ride experiences
Follow Minty at @MintCycleCoach #MintCycleCoach or visit www.mintcycling.co.uk


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