Interview: Rob Wilkins

Rob Wilkins has progressed quickly in the Scottish amateur racing scene, achieving his category 2 license early last season and winning the Scottish Power Renewables Super6 overall King of the Mountains prize.

How long have you been cycling?
I got properly into cycling about 7 or 8 years ago, starting off with MTB around Glasgow and at trail centres, before getting into road riding about 5 years ago. Before I got into cycling I’d done a lot of dinghy sailing competitively, and was into windsurfing.

You were commuting to Prudential before you joined the club, right?
I used to commute from Callander to Prudential, that was how I got into road cycling – as a means to improve my fitness for riding my MTB. It turned out I enjoyed riding on the road more than the MTB though!

How quickly did you realise you were strong enough do well in races?
After I moved to Dunblane I joined the club and came out on the Saturday club runs. It took a while to get used to group riding, but I soon found I was as strong as a lot of the regular racers, and was encouraged to give racing a go. Mark Baugh and Eddie Cowle got me along to a couple of TLI races at Creiff and I got on pretty well, winning one of them.

You had a good season last year- which result was the most satisfying?
The Super6 KOM win is something I’m most proud of. Winning the Thistle Stage race by a big margin was also really good. I was also very pleased with my 3rd place at the Anderside Classic, as the race was really tough and the competition was very good.
What was the secret of your success, just lots of training?
I’ve got an inner demon. It doesn’t let me rest very much and is always demanding I go out and ride my bike. I’m also the most competitive person I know.

Were there any moments of tactical genius or teamwork last year?
Team work wise I thought the Billy Warnock RR was a highlight. A break had got away with no SBC or Glasgow Couriers in it, so us and the Couriers teamed up for an enormous chase. Once we’d caught the break, Eddie Addis had the legs to go up the road and win the Mid Scotland title. We were all super pleased, and he did a great job. Races like that are pretty rare in Scotland, it was proper Tour de France stuff!

What about this year – will you share any of your targets with us?
Eddie Addis and I are doing the Tour Doon Hame (ex. Girvan). Its a 3 day stage race at Easter and is a Premier Calendar event, so we’ll be riding with some of Britains best. Other than that I want to win more races than 2009! I’m hoping to set some good times in a few TT’s as well as I’ve not done much TT before.

How do you find the race scene in Scotland in general?
I think it’s pretty healthy really. I don’t have the long term view that some old timers like EddieC have, so missed the heydays of the 1980’s, but there seem to be more folk riding and racing and its pretty competitive.

What advice would you give to someone who fancies giving road racing a try?
Do the club road runs and the chaingang training. If you doing well at them you’re strong enough to race. Don’t be put off if you get dropped, you’ll be stronger next time!

Who is the strongest rider you have raced against?
LOL, Russel Downing and Malcolm Elliot are both pretty good.

Do you do other types of riding – MTB, CX?
I had my MTB out recently when it was too snowy for the road, but don’t do much on it anymore other than with my family. All the maintenance of MTB’s really bugs me! I’ve just got a CX bike, so might try racing that next winter.

Cycling heroes?
Bit of a cliche, but Lance Armstrong I guess, for his power and domination. Richard Virenque, as well. I remember him riding a day long solo break through the mountains in the 2004 Tour on Bastille day, that was inspirational. The trouble with cycling is finding a hero without a history of doping and I hate dope cheats!