Journals

Journals 2022: introducing… Ollie Hucks

The 23-year-old Saint Piran newbie Ollie Hucks is the first of our 2022 journal contributors

We are blessed to be welcoming a new batch of journal contributors in 2022. We have handpicked a number of riders, coaches and sporting directors to bring you a unique insight into life at the Continental and elite levels, both at home and abroad. We’ll be introducing each contributor in the coming days and weeks. First up, we have Ollie Hucks, who steps up to the Continental level in 2022 with his new team Saint Piran…

Having just finished a masters degree at the University of Nottingham, 23-year-old Ollie Hucks was fully expecting to be in full-time employment this year, relying on 6 am starts to get his training in. After an impressive year on the road and against the clock in 2021, however, Ollie was approached to join the Cornish-based UCI Continental team Saint Piran for 2022. It was an offer he couldn’t refuse. He quickly decided to postpone his plans to sit behind a desk for the next forty years.

As a non-salaried team member, he’ll still need to earn a living, but rather than opting for a more ‘standard’ 9-5 job, he is now looking to pursue more flexible income options. One idea he is weighing up is setting up his own environmental consultancy, a path he hopes would allow him to fit work around his training and racing needs.

I used to think I was a climber, fantasising about Lance skipping up mountain passes, but then I got into time trialling and track racing and had some success there

If adaptability is what Ollie needs to make his consultancy idea work, it is an asset he has certainly shown on the bike over the last two years. He’s scored impressive results on the track, on the road and on the time trial bike. In 2020 he was third in the team pursuit at the national track championships. Then last year, riding for Nopinz Motip RT, his road results included a win at the prestigious Victor Berelemont Trophy (Nat B), second at the Totnes Vire road race behind Rory Townsend, and a first top 20 in a National Road Series race at the Lancaster Grand Prix.

On his TT bike, he was briefly at the top of the leaderboard at the national road championships time trial, before finishing 14th amongst a stacked field. He was also 8th at the RTTC National 10 Mile Championship and 3rd at the RTTC National Closed Circuit Championship.

Before he begins his season as journal contributor and debutant UCI Continental rider, we caught up with Ollie to get to know him a little better. Here’s what he had to say…

Photo: Phipps Images

Why cycling? What is it about the sport that’s drawn you to it?

First across the line wins… sounds pretty simple to me? My initial attraction to cycling was the simplicity of it; everyone sets off at the same time and first over the line is the winner. I came to cycling from various team sports that are played out over 60-90 minutes, but each minute in these sports is equally important, unlike cycling which reaches a crescendo at the end. Once I learned more and more about cycling I became fascinated by the varying tactics, terrain and disciplines, and to this day still feel like I’m only at the tip of the iceberg in terms of experiencing it all. 

How would you describe yourself as a rider?

At the moment, I’d say I’m an all-rounder. I used to think I was a climber, fantasising about Lance skipping up mountain passes, but then I got into time trialling and track racing and had some success there. I’m lucky to have had opportunities across a range of disciplines and terrain and as much as I am not as good at some as I am others, I enjoy them all and don’t feel that I’ve found my specialism yet. 

What is the achievement you are most proud of in cycling so far (and why)?

Winning a bronze medal in the team pursuit at the national track championships in 2020 is the highlight for me. Coming from various team sports, one thing I had missed within cycling was the team element: all committing to a common goal and doing everything you can to fully utilise yourself within that team. I only got into track upon starting uni and the novelty of whacking it around the bumpy Derbados boards with your mates never wore off. We entered nationals off the back of a successful BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport) campaign but knew for us to get a medal would be a push. Personally, I take no shame in saying I was the fourth-strongest in that team, but I executed a role that enabled the others to fully execute theirs.  

I achieved and even surpassed some of the goals I had set myself at the start of the year but like every competitive individual felt I could have done more

How would you rate your 2021 season out of 10? And why? 

A solid 8 out of 10. I achieved and even surpassed some of the goals I had set myself at the start of the year but like every competitive individual felt I could have done more. I’m a big advocate for ‘If you don’t win, then learn’, and as is the nature of the beast, I came close far more times than I won so have learned a lot. 

Photo: Jay Farrar

How did your move to Saint Piran come about?

Joining a UCI Continental team wasn’t something I had initially aimed for off the back of 2021. I had only joined Nopinz Motip in late 2020; they were extremely supportive of my ambitions, and I had become good mates with all involved. Once racing eventually kicked off again I hit the ground running and found myself being able to consistently get some form of result, with standouts being a few Nat B podiums and eventually winning one, whilst also getting some time trialling results. I finished my season at the national champs where I had a solid ride in the TT and was schooled by the big guns in the road race. 

I’d only just finished a masters at uni and was yet to decide exactly what my next steps would be, but this opportunity was certainly one I couldn’t turn down

A few days after nationals, Lamps contacted me about joining the team, explaining their ambitions for the coming years and where I would fit into proceedings. I’d only just finished a masters at uni and was yet to decide exactly what my next steps would be, but this opportunity was certainly one I couldn’t turn down. 

Do you know what kind of role you might have in your team and what kinds of races you’ll be doing?

As is clear from our roster and from discussions at our initial team meeting in Cornwall, there is a very strong sprint-based core to the team. I’m under no illusion that I’m going to be the winner of bunch sprints in UCI races, but I certainly feel I have a lot to offer to ensure the individual that does win is from Saint Piran. Obviously, though, not all races finish in big bunch sprints, and I’ve typically done better in races where the parcours is undulating, so feel I can support the team across all terrain and take an opportunity should it arise. 

How are you feeling about your first season at UCI Continental level, and why?

Excited is the best way to describe how I feel. Learning from the more experienced individuals on the team and under the guidance of Lamps [team manager Steve Lampier] will be key to my development. To win big races these days it’s pretty much impossible to do it alone, so racing as part of such a strong team is something I am really looking forward to. I’ve heard the racing in Europe is different gravy compared to British racing so just want to get stuck in and see what I can do. 

What are your goals this year?

The team has ambitious goals for this year and so it is my job to get the most out of myself to make sure someone in a Saint Piran jersey achieves them. Personally, my focus will be on acclimatising to racing at UCI level coupled with a focus on the National Road Series later in the year. 

Featured photo: Steve Cartmell

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