Tom Daly secured the first win of his career at the Newcastle West Cycling Classic at the weekend.
What made the achievement all the more remarkable was the fact the 61-year-old was one of the oldest competitors in the field.
The O’Leary’s Stone Kanturk CC rider is well known in domestic cycling circles as a coach and respected author, but victory in the 76-kilometre A4 event will surely rank amongst his proudest moments.
“It felt good, because I’ve been there or thereabouts recently,” he said. “Because of the age. I don’t have the power for the finish to win a flat-out sprint, so I have to time my effort. I’m good for positioning myself and I played the race well.”
He continued: “It was a steady race, which suited me. That meant it didn’t take the power from my legs and I just held my place coming to the finish.
“Maybe I’m a bit foolish putting my wheels where people wouldn’t put theirs, but I held my ground, avoided a few potholes and got my effort right.”
So what are the secrets to success of a man who his five years shy of receiving a state pension?
“Don’t eat rubbish and keep your hand down from your face! I’m lucky in my wife is interested in food and she’s a great cook, so that helps. I must be the best fed man in Ireland.”
Training extends to eight hours a week, with three of those given over to what he calls “maintenance”, which he achieves via stretching or core work.
“The ageing thing is obviously a factor and it took some studying to get that right with the training. Cycling is a moving game of chess; there are better guys in a big bunch and the sport has that advantage for me.
“I don’t have a big engine, I’m not naturally talented so being smart about it is the way to combat that. I train well and recover well.
“During the winter months, I’d be on the bike five days a week at least and now about four, but only about three days ‘in anger’.”
Daly is setting his sights on some big events this season, such as the national championships next month in Dublin, the national track championships in September and the world track championships in October.
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