Features Interviews Podcast

Mark Stewart: locked down, dropped, and feeling better than ever

25-year-old Scottish cyclist tells us about his incredible year, from being locked down in New Zealand and dropped by British Cycling to finding a new zest for life and finishing second in the New Zealand road race championships

We’re really pleased to bring you what is perhaps the most fascinating podcast interview we’ve done so far. 

It’s a conversation with 25-year-old Scottish cyclist Mark Stewart. Mark has ridden for the Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling team since 2019 and, until last year, had been a long-term member of Great Britain’s track squad.

Over the years he has proven himself to be one of the finest endurance track cyclists around, winning national titles, World Cup golds, and a Commonwealth Games gold in the points race.

After the track world championships in 2020, Mark flew out to New Zealand to visit his girlfriend, fellow track cyclist Emma Cumming. Just days later, the borders closed around him, effectively locking him. And then, just a week after that, British Cycling told him he was dropped from the track programme. That might seem like a pretty tough hand to be dealt in what was then an Olympic year. 

Photo: Hannah Fromont

As Mark explains though, he’s actually never been happier. He’s landed on his feet, being warmly welcomed into the cycling community in New Zealand, enjoying a new sense of freedom and raring to race his bike again. This newfound perspective has paid dividends for him on the track and road. Thanks to the generosity of the New Zealand cycling federation, he’s been allowed to ride the country’s national championships and he’s taken full advantage, winning the New Zealand omnium championships, finishing second in the road race championships behind George Bennett, and then, just after we spoke, finishing second in the individual pursuit. 

In the interview, Mark recounts his incredible year, from the shock of being dropped by GB to finding a new, happy balance in life. He explains why leaving the GB track programme has been a blessing in disguise, contrasts the approaches of the GB and New Zealand track programmes, tell us about the amazing community he’s found himself in and talks us through his incredible ride to finish second in the New Zealand road race championships.

Mark was an eloquent, thoughtful and candid interviewee, so we really hope you enjoy this one. 

Also available on Apple PodcastsSpotify, Google Podcasts and many other platforms.

Show sponsored by Continental Tyres.