PezCycling News - What's Cool In Road Cycling : Matt Walls Gets PEZ’d!

Matt Walls Gets PEZ’d!
Rider Interview: Ed Hood has been catching up with the 'Young Guns' of the future of road sport and his next subject has been showing a clean pair of heels in EUROPE. Englishman, Matt Walls, has been building a nice palmerès recently in Luxembourg and France, time for a good Ed Hood questioning.

Those young Brits have certainly been ‘doing the business’ across the channel. Just the other day we spoke to SEG Racing Academy’s Stevie Williams who won two stages and the overall GC in the Ronde de L’Izard.

Mean times Matt Walls took out two stages in the Flèche du Sud in Luxembourg and then a stage in Paris-Arras. Both are important races in the u23 firmament and you can bet that his name will already be in the pro team talent spotters notebooks. A young man PEZ needs to find out more about:

PEZ: I believe you've been racing since you were nine years-old Matt, tell us about how you started please.
Matt Walls:
I started riding mountain bikes for fun with my dad, over the Pennines. At primary school I played a lot of different sports, and competed in triathlons where I found my best discipline to be cycling. I then went to a half term taster session at Manchester velodrome, and from there I joined the local club "Eastlands Velo". I never actually raced until I was about 11 years-old at a local closed road circuit. I remember my first race turning up on a mountain bike and competed against all others on road bikes. All through Youth years I had a lot of success on both track and the road and won National titles in U12, U14 and U16.

PEZ: Have you come up through the various GB programmes, where are now?
I have been fortunate to be selected for all the British Cycling squads from age 15, the ‘talent team’, ‘junior academy’ and now the ‘senior academy.’ It’s a good set up now with a balance of a track programme throughout winter, based in Manchester, and a quality road programme from March, based in Northern Italy.

PEZ: You have excellent track palmarès; is that something you'd like to go back too?
I presently hold three Senior National track titles in Team Pursuit, Madison and Omnium, as well as U23 European Team Pursuit title. In my junior years I also won two European titles and a silver medal in the World Championships in the points race. I do most of my track work throughout winter as it’s great training and that’s when the majority of my races are. I would definitely like to keep developing on both track and road.

PEZ: What's your favourite kind of race - track and road?
I enjoy both types of racing, I don’t have a preference.

PEZ: Do you have a coach - what's the philosophy?
My present coach is Keith Lambert. Over last few years I have also worked with Brian Stephens and Stuart Blunt. All of them work slightly different but their main interest is for the long term development of the riders, and learning to ride for each other and the importance of teamwork.

PEZ: That was a nice batch of strong Belgian results, earlier this year; first in the GP Café Le Central and second places in the Handzame Challenge, GP P. Dewailly and Evergam-Belzele. You must like the cobbles, big bunches and cross winds?
The two years previous I have broken both collarbones at the start of the season and have missed the Belgium block of racing which was quite gutting as I do enjoy the racing over there and it was great I was able to get stuck in with them this year.

PEZ: You rode the Liberazione and Belvedere - what do you think about the Italian races?
I was actually injured for Liberazione and only completed a few laps. Generally in the Italian races I work for the team and help the better climbers. They are very good races and they are hard.

PEZ: The Flèche du Sud is a big deal in the u23 world, tell us about your stage wins.
This race worked out perfect for me. I was injured leading up to Tour of Yorkshire so was given a great chance in this five stage race in Luxembourg. Stage One was a short 78Km rolling course. It was the first road race of the season riding with the lads that just come back from the Commonwealth Games, so we had no expectations. I was feeling good after a good hard racing block. The race was very sketchy and everyone trying to make an impression in the first stage. It was quite chaotic but I managed to get into a decent position coming into the final corner. I came from quite far back and managed to get it on the line. The final Stage, Five, was a good day out of 152km. We still had a chance of a green jersey if I beat the holder by two places, so we were all in to go for the stage win. The lads did an outstanding job for me and got me to the front with 250m to go. I held off and won the stage, and also taking the Green jersey. A great day for the whole team.

PEZ: The Arras Tour, you beat fellow Brit Mr. Cullaigh (Team Wiggins) to take your stage win; he's pretty quick too - is he still speaking to you?
In the final stage the team worked fantastic again and it was great to get another stage win. I am good friends with Gabz and we have raced and trained together many times. He’s a good lad and a top bike rider.

PEZ: What's the programme now?
I am looking forward to Ronde L'Oise, a four stage race in France next week. Then I am back to UK for National Road Champs, and some UK racing. After that there is a clash of dates with L'Avenir clashing with U23 European champs, so will have to see what selections are made.

PEZ: And the next big goal?
Short term to finish this season strong on both road and maybe track with the races above and try for selection for Tour of Britain. During the winter I want some opportunities for Track World Cups, and see how I compete with the best.

PEZ: What's the long term goal?
The long term goal is to be part of a World Tour team, and if a chance of Olympics comes along the way even better. I have just turned 20, and want to keep pushing myself to be the best I can.

PEZ: And when you turn pro, if you could win just one race, it would be?
I would like to win any of the one day Belgium Spring Classics, but if I had to choose one race it would probably be Paris Roubaix. I was selected to race the Junior version but broke my collarbone a few weeks before, so it would be rather special to win that one.

It was November 2005 when Ed Hood first penned a piece for PEZ, on US legend Mike Neel. Since then he's covered all of the Grand Tours and Monuments for PEZ and has an article count in excess of 1,600 in the archive. He was a Scottish champion cyclist himself - many years and kilograms ago - and still owns a Klein Attitude, Dura Ace carbon Giant and a Fixie. He and fellow Scot and PEZ contributor Martin Williamson run the Scottish site where more of his musings on our sport can be found.


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