Getting the Miles in the legs
The transition from u23 to the professional ranks is by far the hardest step to make in cycling. This year, the current Australian road race champion Miles Scotson made the shift from the comfort of the Cycling Australia High Performance program where everything, from help of organising a visa, having accommodation provided, getting to live with 5-10 other young Aussies and having support from team staff on a daily basis, to the cut throat life of a professional cyclist where these luxuries are seldom provided. An aspect of professional cycling that teams needs to develop further.
The BMC Racing Team have perhaps started to change the way in which they deal with neo-pros from outside of Europe. Maybe learning from mistakes in the past. Scotson and BMC had an agreement that South Australian would be based in Belgium with the benefits of being close to the team's service course and have the luxury of receiving any assistance required from a variety of staff members. (Hopefully prompting other pro teams to follow suit in such arrangements for neo-pros). “I had an agreement with Allan Peiper to live in Belgium when I joined the team. I think this helped the team keep an eye on me and I also gained valuable experience by training on those Belgium roads right through the year”. Scotson also suggested that having fellow Aussies on the squad aided his transition to the professional ranks “It’s always nice to race alongside some fellow Aussies like Richie (Porte) and Rohan (Dennis) especially when we have that same sense of Aussie humour that the Europeans just don’t understand! Then I had the likes of my coach Marco Pinotti and Allan Peiper who really helped me this year in my first season and owe them forever” Scotson said.
From the outside, the step up from the espoirs to the pros is all glitz and glamour. Boat loads of kit, all the bikes you could ever want and more money than you have ever had. But with all this comes more responsibility and more accountability in your performance. Scotson mentioned that “Sometimes it’s very job like. Most of my time in the u23s I was racing for results. Of course, you still learn to ride for other as a u23 but as a neo-pro, 90% of your season will be working for others”. The track world champion also discussed the importance of being able to unplug from the cycling bubble which can sometimes consume you. “I found that because I was living over there (Europe) for sport, I had got so absorbed that at times I would have had no idea what was going on in the world outside of cycling. So I tried to get some more balance back and I think that helped by the end of the year”.
“Balance” a key pointer for any young cyclist!
Looking a few years down the road, the 23-year-old from Gawler is perhaps being groomed as BMCs next big classics rider, gaining experience in two of the biggest classics of the year in which he finished the 291km Milan- San Remo and was also a part of the winning team in this year’s Paris- Roubaix, won by Greg Van Avermaet, with Scotson rolling in 56th place. “It’s one of the biggest races in the world. It was BMCs first Roubaix win and I was basically there to gain experience for the future and I think contributing to a winning ride in the biggest classic gave me more experience than any other race of the year” Scotson said.
Looking more short term, Scotson is looking to hit the ground running in 2018 with a big Aussie summer on the cards for the defending Australian Champion. “Next year my goals will be to have a strong start again for the Australian races. I haven’t finished outside the podium yet on the Buninyong road course from my three starts so I’m determined to keep that statistic going for bragging rights in the family”.
Perhaps a surprise winner in 2017, but there is no reason Scotson can’t go B2B around Buninyong in the first week of January, especially if he gets that 54 tooth chain ring wound up in the run into town. After the Aussie summer, Scotson will head back to Europe to prepare for the spring classics and will also be aiming to line up for his first Grand Tour. The final goal for the season is the Team Time Trial World Championships where he was part of the BMC Racing Team who claimed silver in Norway this year.
Plenty to look forward to for our National Champion heading into 2018!
See you back at the social club