Oscar Nilsson-Julien believes that the unique opportunity afforded to young riders at the HSBC UK | National Track Championships is invaluable, even if the country’s more experienced riders occasionally hand out ‘a good kicking’.
Nilsson-Julien is one of the next generation of British riders looking to make a mark on the national and international stage, following in the footsteps of some illustrious riders including VC Londres clubmate, Ethan Hayter.
The Londoner, who will turn 18 a few weeks before January’s championships, will contest the scratch and points race, as well as trying his hand at the kilo.
Of the upcoming championships, he says:
“The nationals will be a great experience for me – it’s pretty special to ride against riders who are competing at the top level of our sport. It’s a really exciting feeling, competing against top-class riders – they know how to give a good kicking while making it look easy.”
For Nilsson-Julien, those riders ‘at the top level’ now include a clubmate and friend, in the shape of Hayter, who at 21, has gone from VCL to the Great Britain Cycling Team, winning world and European titles along the way, and establishing himself as a favourite for selection for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
At three years Hayter’s junior, the inspiration for Nilsson-Julien is palpable.
“As a VCL rider, having Ethan at our club is really inspirational,” he explains. “It almost feels like the dream of racing for Great Britain at the highest level is within touching distance.
“It means that the Great Britain riders aren’t just images on the television, they’re clubmates that I’ve raced against around Herne Hill at track league on a Wednesday night.”
While Hayter’s achievements have marked him out as a particular VCL success story, Nilsson-Julien is giving himself every chance of following the new Team Ineos recruit to the top of the sport.
He was selected to represent Great Britain in the junior men’s time trial at Yorkshire 2019 and, after a top ten finish there, is targeting more success on both track and road in 2020.
“I really enjoyed last season. I raced predominantly in the UK, and that’s where I had my best results. Winning the Cadence road race really boosted my confidence, and competing at Yorkshire 2019 was a really unique opportunity. I didn’t have massive expectations, so to come away with ninth was very special.
“After Yorkshire, one of my main goals for 2020 is the new junior national time trial championships, along with selection for the junior time trial at the world championships in Aigle.
“On the track, I’d love to compete in the omnium and team pursuit at the junior European championships and see what we can do. In senior competition at nationals, a good result would be a top five in the points or the scratch – I’d be really happy with that.”
The HSBC UK | National Track Championships take place over the weekend of January 24-26. Tickets are available here.