The team pursuit is a 4km race from a standing start, each team composed of 4 men and the clock stops as the 3rd man crosses the line. Our line up, representing the University of Nottingham, was comprised of myself, Ollie Hucks, Michael Gill and Max Eagle. In qualifying we were a bit scrappy but still managed to record the fastest time which meant we were through to the gold medal ride off. The competition record for BUCS stood at 4:11 and that team included a current member of team GB, Charlie Tanfield. We knew we were in with a shot of breaking the record so we went out quick and managed to hold on, crossing the line in 4:08. Gold medal and new record in the bag. Winning is one thing but winning with your best mates is a feeling that is second to none.
BUCS is a small event, and whilst our achievements were nothing to look down upon, they weren't quite the big leagues. Our nationals team pursuit quest was going to change that. Riding for the 'AeroLab WardWheelz' team, we wanted a national medal. What stood in our way I hear you ask? The GB academy, Professional track team 'Huub Wattbike' and the Wales racing academy. Our task was simple but extremely difficult, we either had to beat a nation or a professional, world renown team. Our team comprised of myself, Ollie Hucks, Michael Gill and team owner, Tom Ward. We knew we would have to ride around 4:00 for the 4k to be in with a chance so we found every gain we could including some incredible custom fitting skinsuits from impsport. Nationals was on January 26th which frustratingly coincides with our Uni exam period making the lead up extra stressful. With our training done, gainz found and exams completed, we rocked up to the velodrome not knowing what to expect from the weekend. First up was the lesser important event of individual pursuit. I managed a PB ride of 4:21 for 4km giving me 6th place (the first non Huub-Wattbike rider), a result I was very pleased with. The IP felt very much like a warm up for the main event: the team pursuit. High on caffiene and sugar, we took to the start line for our qualifying run. Our roles in the team pursuit are so well practiced and drilled that we should be able to do it with our eyes closed. However, big events are different, nerves come into play and mistakes can be made so one must be ready for every eventuality. Fortunately for us, nothing untoward happened in our run yet we were rather scrappy and had a sub-optimal ride. We knew we could do better. We then watched the other teams qualify and 1 by 1, Huub, GB and Wales all went quicker than us. We came 4th in qaulifying which put us through to the bronze medal ride-off albeit on the back foot having been beaten by Wales in qauli. We rode a 4:08 and Wales a 4:05. Somehow we had to find 3 seconds in 2 hours so we put our heads together and tried to find a strategy that would enable this. Changing a plan last minute is never recommended, especially when you are travelling at 65kph but we had nothing to loose. With a brand new strategy and lap schedule we took to the start line, it was all or nothing. I don't remember a lot about the ride itself but I know the new plan did not go to plan and I found myself on the front with 4 laps to go having already completed my originally prescribed 2 turns. I, along with the other guys, was toast. So I dug in, put my head down and just sprinted. The guns are sounded as each team crosses the line so I was expecting to hear Wales' gun at any moment but as we drew nearer and nearer the finish line there was still no gunshot. Had the gun failed? Had they forgot to fire it? We crossed the line, our gun sounded and 1 second later Wales' was. I looked up at the board and to my disbelief we had ridden a 4:03, an astonishing 5 second improvement from our qualifying and we were Bronze medallist at the national championships sharing the podium with GB and Huub-Wattbike. What a day!