‘Don’t be fazed by cycling stars’
Bermuda cyclists Dominique Mayho and Nicole Mitchell have been warned not to get starstruck when they go wheel to wheel with some of the sport's biggest names at the Commonwealth Games.
Should Mayho glance across start line before his races, he could well find himself face-to-face with Sir Bradley Wiggins, the former Tour de France winner, or his Team Sky team-mate Geraint Williams, of Wales, a double Olympic track champion.
It will not be any less daunting for Mitchell, with Lizzie Armitstead, of England, who won silver in the road race at the London Games, and Wales' Elinor Barker, a two-times women's pursuit world champion, both competing in the road programme in Glasgow.
Mark Cavendish, however, looks set to miss the Games after being told he must have surgery. The Isle of Man rider, widely considered the fastest road cyclist in the world, dislocated his shoulder and damaged ligaments in a fall during the sprint finish on the first stage of the Tour de France last weekend.
Regardless of the cycling heavyweights that they will be up against, Peter Dunne, the Bermuda Bicycle Association president, believes that it is essential that the Island's riders do not become overawed by the grand occasion.
“The Commonwealth nations tend to be cycling nations, so the competition is going to be incredibly strong in Glasgow,” Dunne said.
“Pretty much all of the Great Britain Olympic team will be there.
“Then you've got Scotland, who are enjoying a cycling renaissance after Chris Hoy's heroics at the Olympics, and they will have David Millar [who was left out of the Tour de France by his Garmin-Sharp team], while the Isle of Man will have Peter Kennaugh, who races for Team Sky.
“We've spoken to [Mayho and Mitchell] to remind them that it is a bike race; it is a competition.
“I don't think you'll get them asking for the top guys' autographs, but I imagine they might try get a picture surreptitiously taken.”
Mayho, who will compete in the men's road race and time-trial, admits that being submerged by the sea of cycling stars on show at the Games is a distinct possibility for riders from the smaller countries.
However, in an effort to measure his own success, the 20-year-old has mentally created a league of Caribbean riders that he intends to finish at the top of. “Realistically I know I will not be able to keep up with the top guys, but hopefully I can beat some of the guys on my level and, perhaps, a bit above me,” said Mayho, who enlisted the help of a professional online coach, Brian Walton, to assist with his preparations.
“It's going to be by far the biggest event I've ever competed in. It's unbelievable that I've got the opportunity to with race with guys like Wiggins.”
As the Games loom ever closer, Mitchell has been feeling mixed sensations of nerves and bubbling excitement. Like Mayho, the 31-year-old will also be making her Games debut.
“I'm just trying to be as prepared as possible. We've just started a big block of double training sessions to experience the intensity required.
“It's been a very different style if training,” said Mitchell, who will compete in the women's road race and time-trial.
“It's going to feel like an Olympics with opening and closing ceremonies — it's an amazing opportunity.”
Mitchell's journey to the Games has been nothing but an unconventional one. She started as a long-distance runner before switching to cycling five years ago — with a brief flirtation with triathlon in between — after suffering a stress fracture of the foot.
“I was actually the inaugural winner of the Bermuda Triangle Challenge, but I was living in Canada at the time, so people don't equate that with me,” said Mitchell, who works at Ariel Re, the reinsurer.
“I ended up with a stress fracture to the foot, which is quite common in running, so I got on the bike to keep my fitness up. After I'd done my first bike race that was it; I just forgot about the other sports from then on. There's been a lot of sacrifice and effort involved, and I'm sure people at work think I'm insane.”
The time-trial races, taking place on July 31, will involve a challenging route (40 kilometres for men, 30km for women) that will start and finish at Glasgow Green, with a single-loop course taking in the countryside of East Dunbartonshire and North Lanarkshire as well as the city's East End. The road race course, also starting in Glasgow Green, features a 14km circuit taking riders through the city centre before carrying on to the western end of the city where they will pass through Kelvingrove Park and circuit the West End before heading back towards the city centre and the finish.
For the men's race, competitors will complete 168km and lap the course 12 times. Female riders will complete seven laps and 98km.
Both the men's and women's road races will be held on August 3, the final day of the Games.