Interview with rising star
Team UK Youth member and aspiring Olympian, James Lowsley-Williams has his sights set on success. We caught up with the20 year old to find out what it takes to train for the top.
On his mentors...
I've been lucky enough to work with some great people since meeting Courtney Rowe at the Newport Velodrome in 2008. He, Magnus Backstedt and Nigel Mansell have had a huge influence on me and I wouldn't be where I am without them.
Whatever it is you set out to do, having someone who has experienced success by your side is priceless. When I'm having a hard time, being able to pick up the phone and talk to a Formula 1 champion and a Tour de France stage winner is a huge advantage. I respect them and that's essential when taking on their constructive criticism.
On working as a team...
I know my role within Team UK Youth and team orders are massively important; there's no room for head-bangers! If the team wins, that's a victory for all of us. Naturally I have my own aspirations and I'd like to be higher up the pecking order, but that will only come if I'm getting recognition for contributing to a winning team. Next year I want to be the one supporting the main rider rather than the one who drops off after 90 miles.
All cyclists are individuals, but if you want to win you need to have a great team behind you. It's like any job – you need to start at the bottom and work your way up. Our team boasts a good mix of skills and can win any stage of any race. Nigel hires on personality as much as ability, which is vital when we're travelling together for the majority of the year.
On intensive training...
Training camps abroad allow us to experience hot weather training on open roads and climbs much longer than we get in Britain. We don't get to see much of the countries we go to in terms of enjoying the culture, but there's no better way to soak up your surroundings than taking in the scenery from a bike saddle.
The training equipment I use is the same at home as it is outside so performance can be analysed by one of our coaches, Steve Benton, or The Number Hunter as I call him. Every session is recorded and the numbers are black and white.
We can't go on a ride without our power meter. I used to go too hard on my easy rides and too easy on my hard rides – the graphs quickly show you where you're going wrong. It's like having a race against the numbers.
I weigh all my food and I'm working with the England Rugby nutritionist to ensure my calories match my training routine. That's possibly the hardest part of training, especially around Christmas!
On cycling safety...
I'd say about 90 percent of the cyclists I know have had an accident, including me. Anyone who gets into the sport knows that it's dangerous and if anything good can come out of high-profile accidents, it's that the publicity should make drivers more aware of what's around them. Whenever I'm driving, the possibility of a cyclist coming from nowhere is always at the forefront of my mind, so the more people who cycle, the more careful they'll be when they're behind a wheel.
They don't realise how fast we're going - you need to make sure you've got your wits about you.
On the Olympic legacy...
It's crazy the amount of people who are out on their bikes. It's great being part of the charity as we're working with kids and getting them out of their houses, and away from their XBOX. Team UK Youth is not just a cycling team, we're all ambassadors of a charity that supports over 750,000 young people and it's great to be a part of that, working with kids and getting them out in the fresh air and away from their XBOX. The more people who are into the sport, the easier it is to secure sponsors and lottery funding so the Olympic after-effect has been massive.
On the future...
I started in the velodrome – track cycling is where I really excel and would be my best hope of an Olympic appearance in Rio in 2016. However, road racing is where the money is and the team are good enough to let me ride for Team GB.
I want to be riding the Tour in three years. It's not the easiest doing both, but I'm lucky that I can hold my own wherever I'm riding and can acclimatise pretty quickly to the different conditions.
Cycling started out as a hobby for me and is now a job. When you compare cycling through the Canadian hillside to sitting behind a desk, it's not a bad job to have – even if it means I had to give up my motorbike!
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