Track Cycling

Double European Championship gold just the tonic for Aberdeenshire track cycling star Neah Evans – Press and Journal

Neah Evans reckons the ‘special’ performances at the European Track Championships stand the British Cycling team in good stead for the winter.

The Aberdeenshire cyclist, who hails from Cuminestown, was part of the women’s team pursuit squad which took gold in Bulgaria and narrowly missed out on a new world record.

She followed that up with triumph in the individual pursuit – a non-Olympic event – as GB stars returned to the track with a medal-laden performance.

With preparations gearing towards the delayed Tokyo Olympics next year, the impressive results act as a timely boost for the Commonwealth Games double-medallist.

Evans said: “Both times were PBs for me – it’s brilliant to win and nice to do it with a PB, as it shows progression and improvement. I’m delighted with both.

“With the team pursuit, it’s very much a process geared towards the Olympics. The time we did in the final was 0.2 of a second of the world record, so it’s the second-fastest time in history. That’s pretty special.

© Shutterstock Feed
Neah Evans with her individual pursuit gold medal.

“We went in as favourites and knew we were more than capable of winning it, while setting a good time.

“The individual pursuit is not an Olympic event anymore, so it’s a little bit of an afterthought. I didn’t do any specific training for it and it was a bit of a bonus – ‘go and give it a bash and see what happens’.

“Going in with a relaxed attitude and to come away and win it is really special.”

The competitive calendar has been severely restricted because of the Covid-19 pandemic, with last week’s event taking place with no spectators present.

With gruelling training schedules filling the gaps, it can feel a bit like an endless process. So for Evans and the British Cycling to have a competitive burst before the end of the year could prove very useful.

She said: “The calendar between now and the Olympics is pretty sparse. It’s nice to have that race almost as a validation of what we’ve been doing.

“When you do big training blocks, it can seem a long way from actually racing. You’re tired constantly and going fast seems a long way away.

“It was such a long time since we felt in a good place. With all the training you had so much fatigue – while the coach was saying we weren’t meant to be going well at this stage, you feel a very long way off that.

“To freshen up with that, it just gives a bit of a morale boost through the winter.”

Like many sportspeople this year, Evans has had to get used to competing without crowds, something she found very unusual in Plovdiv.

She added: “It was bizarre. The track centre where the pits are is normally heaving with people. You had to prove a negative Covid test and I think some teams weren’t able to prove that, or didn’t want to take the risk.

“Although the Euros had been on the calendar for a long time, there were a lot of rumours it might not happen. I think a lot of teams decided not to run the risk preparing for an event that might not happen.

“The last Euros we won was in Glasgow and the crowd erupted – it was such an amazing moment. You felt so euphoric. But this time it was more like ‘cool, we’ve won – now what?’”