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PEZ Talk: Commonwealth Games Champion Mark Stewart
Rider Interview: Young Scottish trackman, Mark Stewart, didn't sit back and let multi-champion Cameron Meyer walk all over the recent Commonwealth Games points race and came out with the Gold medal. Ed Hood caught up with his countryman to hear all about 'The Games' and the 22 year-old's future plans.



Australia’s Cameron Meyer, multiple world track champion in the Madison, team pursuit and points race – the latter five on five occasions, most recently at Apeldoorn, The Netherlands in the 2018 World Track Championships. The Commonwealth Games points race on the Anna Meares Velodrome in Brisbane, Australia came just a few weeks later and he would start as red hot favourite – with everyone else racing for second place.

Right?

We all thought that; but 22 year-old Scotsman Mark Stewart had other ideas. He had taken bronze behind Meyer at the Worlds and decided that he would take the race to the Mitchelton-Scott rider rather than allowing the skinny man from Perth, Western Australia to write the script.



Stewart spent season 2017 with the late lamented AN Post team riding a full stage race programme including the Etoile de Besseges, Tour de Normandie, Paris-Arras, Boucles de la Mayenne, Ronde de l’Oise, Tour Alsace, Tour de l’Avenir and Tour of Britain. He also produced strong rides in the one day GP Criquielion where he was ninth and in the U23 World Road Race Championship in Bergen where he was one of the few willing – or able – to work in the finale where GB team mate Olly Wood scored a fine fourth place finish.

Gent - Belgium - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme -  Mark Stewart (GBR) and Ollie Wood (GBR)  pictured during the first day of the 76th Lotto Six Days Vlaanderen on November 15, 2016 at Het Kuipke velodrome in Gent, Belgium  - photo NV/PN/Cor Vos © 2016

We caught up with Stewart after a much needed holiday before he jumps back on the treadmill, destination The European Track Championships in Glasgow, come August.

PEZ: Congratulations Mark, great ride – what was the mind set going in to the race?
Mark Stewart:
Thinking back, I didn’t think I was in that great form; I rode a decent individual pursuit, found the scratch race pretty hard but woke up for the points race feeling good and raring to go. I was going to do nothing for the first 40 laps but found myself off the front after 10 laps and that was the start of it!



PEZ: Campbell Stewart the Kiwi and Ethan Hayter of GB had the same idea of marking Meyer tight, didn’t they?
Stewart was helped by his two New Zealand team mates, they did some good turns to control it, which helped me – and of course, my team mate John Archibald did some big turns for me. In theory there’s not meant to be team work but if you have three guys from the same nation it’s just common sense that they’ll work for each other.

PEZ: Was it a World Cup ‘mega’ gear you were on?
I was on 100” which isn’t huge but is big for me, I was on 93” at the last Games back in Glasgow in 2014.

PEZ: You looked like you gone very deep, when you finished.
I’ve never gone deeper; my form must have been good to allow my body to ride itself into that state.
I did prepare well though, for example, I rode my aero helmet on every training ride to get me used to the heat – it was toasting.



PEZ: Did you and Meyer have a chat after it was all over?
Yes, we’re good friends and he was happy for me – I think he respected the fact that I didn’t lay down to him.

PEZ: You rode the pursuit and scratch before the points race?
Yes, I did a 4:20 for the pursuit; I’ve ridden 4:18 and 4:19 in the past but it’s an event you have to prepare specifically for and wasn’t what I was there for. My Scottish team mate, John Archibald did prepare specifically and came away with a 4:13 and the silver medal. The scratch was a good work out but it’s all down to one sprint and I’m perhaps not the best sprinter in that situation – the points race was what it was all about for me.



PEZ: I heard you had a mishap on the beach before the racing started?
In Sydney we had a rest day and were playing around on the beach, I decided to swim down to touch the bottom and burst my ear drum. It felt like having a head cold all the time, it heals itself but your ear, nose and throat are all connected so it was a tad painful.

PEZ: And you rode the time trial where Cameron Meyer got his gold medal, you were 16th?
Apparently I’d agreed to ride but I don’t remember doing so! We were away early to recce the course and I hadn’t slept that night; I felt OK on the hills but I was watching my pace, it was 40 K and I didn’t want to blow up. And it was way too hot for me as a north European like me.



PEZ: And the road race, where you were 17th?
The heat wasn’t so bad because it was overcast and apart from the two climbs the pace was relatively easy – until the Aussies and Kiwis blew it apart, that is. I clawed my way to the front group and given that all my training was for the track I was reasonably happy with my ride.

PEZ: And you had a bit of a break after the Games?
I’ve had bits of time off here and there but this was my first serious break from racing and training – we went to Vietnam and New Zealand.



PEZ: What now?
I’ve started back in the gym and doing some steady riding; my legs feel not too bad but my body is inefficient. The road rides haven’t been too hard, usually with Olly Wood and Campbell Stewart, the New Zealand lad who was second in the points race and is staying with Olly and I in Manchester this season.

PEZ: First big goal?
The European Championships in Glasgow in August – I’ve won the European u23 title but never a senior one.

PEZ: And do you still aspire to the GB team pursuit squad for Tokyo?
Yes, I’m definitely keen but it’s a difficult one with the omnium in the Olympics now having no timed events and suiting me well – and the Madison being back on the Games programme. It’s still two years away - but the thing is that British track cycling is defined by the team pursuit and I’d like to be part of that. . .

Gent - Belgium - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Mark Stewart (GBR) and Ollie Wood (GBR) pictured during the first day of the 76th Lotto Six Days Vlaanderen on November 15, 2016 at Het Kuipke velodrome in Gent, Belgium  - photo NV/PN/Cor Vos © 2016





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 1,500 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 www.veloveritas.co.uk where more of his musings on our sport can be found.

 


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