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Gavin Noble – Interview 3/Jun/2013

After a successful 2012 Olympics as the first Irish male Triathlete ever to represent Ireland at the Games , Gavin Noble has just landed up to Ras Dun Na Ngall and scooped second !!!

Gavin endured a lengthy road to make it to The Olympics - London 2012. He had narrowly missed a place in the 2008 Beijing Olympics prior to this. Gavin spent the last two years in the lead up to London 2012 training and competing on a badly injured leg. Despite this he had an impressive performance in London, coming out of the swim and off the bike alongside winners, Jonathon and Alistair Brownlee. Slowing in the run due to the leg, he finished 23rd. He immediately underwent surgery on the leg after the games, recovered and now he seems to be straying onto the cycling scene. What’s the dealio? Find out more in this interview!

Gavin On Ras Dun Na NGall by Hazel Scorer:

Q. Why did you choose this race?

I have been racing on the bike in the past few months to get ready for my triathlon season and in my training programme I am using 'blocks' of work and then having a lighter day or few days to absorb the training - so the 3 day in Donegal was a perfect fit - 3 hard days of overload to boost my fitness.

Q. Has this been your toughest bike race yet?

It was toughest in terms of having to 'defend' and riding on the front but it was also very enjoyable. I liked the fact that I 'wasn't supposed to be challenging' as I am not a cyclist!

Q. What was the best bit / worst bit?

I felt pretty strong each day and as a triathlete I am used to the fatigue levels and so I can recover quickly enough. It was my first time in Ardara and the scenery was incredible. Sometimes I head to St Moritz for training in the summer but maybe now I’ll just go to Donegal!

The worst bit was my mistake on stage 3, coming in the bunch but there being a 1.3 second split which cost me the race overall. I actually was confused as to who the riders were - on stage 4 when the yellow jersey was being presented I asked 'who is that!?' - some of the guys were riding for Ulster but had NRPT shorts on some days, black some days, green some days ! - I had actually thought Craig McCauley was Mark Downey as he had been shadowing me for most days, would ride the hills in the top 3 and I thought out of our bunch on stage one was a stronger rider . . anyway, the less I talk of what I was thinking, why I thought I needed to ride and in terms of tactics the better !! Most of the time I was just thinking 'feck it, I am here to ride, I am riding hard every day otherwise it has been a waste of my time in terms of my triathlon season build up'. Of course I didn't come to do badly but at the same time my goals were a little different from maybe the other teams and junior teams in particular who race these races with more focus and need more of a showing in terms of the overall result. My sponsors etc. are looking for triathlon results and whilst they might congratulate me they would still rather see me post a triathlon result.

Q. Are you enjoying cycling races? Is cycling becoming your fave?

I am enjoying the cycling racing - it is very different to triathlons in Ireland - in triathlon we have a little bit more 'razz matazz' and better prize money which is obviously great - but then there is a little bit more hassle involved, more kit to pack, more recovery to take post event - in cycling you rock up, pay on the day, stand on the line and go - and because it's non impact it doesn't take as long to get back into training. I am enjoying the bike racing but I am also missing triathlons and that is always my goal

Q. How did you come to form a team with Lakeland CC?

I am from Enniskillen and I was with Lakeland CC when I lived at home - I did the club races etc. - and so they still hold my licence I think - I had been riding unattached this year but the organisers made a point of telling me I had to ride for a team / in team colours - and so in Lakeland colours - which was great!

Q. I heard that you may have fared even better if you had employed team riding tactics/working with the other riders rather than spending so much time in the front. Was this the case and if so why?

I was in Lakeland B and the guys helped as much as possible - especially Raymond Dunlop - he did a great ride on the last day, lining it out, keeping the pace high, not letting Ulster dictate etc. But we found more often than not that I got isolated and having to chase things - sometimes I guess when people know you are strong they look to you to chase, especially in Yellow - and as I said I was there to ride hard and to push my own limits - yeah I guess everyone was talking about 'tactics' but when you find yourself alone against 2 or three teams when what do you do ?

I do not do much of any 'sprints or jumps' in training at the moment so I was more comfortable riding tempo. I was more comfortable towards the front.
We would be riding a long very slowly and if anyone jumped then would get 30-40 secs straight away and so I had to limit that because GC was very tight.

On the final stage I sat in for the first 15km but got a little bit bored! It was more exciting to be pushing it! We kept the pace high and I attacked when I had a cross wind and Mark was the only rider able to hold on. And even then when we got up to the breakaway group I still wanted to ride. 'Feck the group' and the games I thought . . I only had a chance on the final stage if I was able to whittle it down - it was going to come down to cat and mouse and that wasn’t going to be easy if the 3rd, 4th and 5th GC rider were still there . . . I thought tactically I did well on Sunday but I just hadn’t enough, I am a big boy too and Glengesh wasn’t made for me! When we got to 100m to go and I knew it was over and that was that . . . I wasn't really interested in the stage, nor was Mark so we were going very slowly at times up Glengesh - almost to a track stand on the final hairpin!

Ahh overall I really enjoyed it - I hope Mark and the rest of the juniors go to bigger and better things so I can tell the story when it was me against them :-)

Q. Have you ever cycled as part of a team similar to the French cycling teams who have on occasion recruited Irish Triathletes like Aileen Morrisson and Conor Murphy?

Not cycling teams - they are triathlon teams in a 'grand prix format - I raced those for years - racing for Cesson, US.Vendome and currently I am signed to St Jean De Monts.

Q. Are you going to come back to do The Ras next year and are you approachable if cyclists want to team up with you?

I am not sure about what I am doing next week never mind next year! Of course I would love to ride there again . . I would also maybe like to ride in 'The Ras' one day . . you always have to look for new challenges.

Q. How does riding in a bike race differ to riding in the bike leg race in triathlon?

Triathlon is obviously shorter - 40km - and the first 5km are a lot tougher as you are maxing out after swim - and the 'selection' is made a lot sooner. Tactics differ of course as we have a run to think about but I would say the pace is very similar - similar to stage one of this year’s race - there are a lot of similarities and that is why bike racing is good for me .

Q. You did well in Ras Dun Na NGall. How have you prepared for this race training – wise? How did you get in enough hills etc?

I didn’t prepare for it specifically. I am riding in the Wicklow Mountains quite a lot and I guess that prepared me for the hilly routes in Donegal .

Q. I have a few girlfriends, mainly rogue triathletes who plan to take on this challenge as a team next year. Any advice? What will be key in training to nail this race? I have heard that swim and run won’t help the bike. Is this true?

You get better on the bike by riding your bike - swimming and running is a little bit more difficult -ride hills, ride hard, ride races, ride hard, ride hills!

Q. Your Mom once famously said that she wanted you to settle down and get a nice girlfriend after you did the Olympics. Have you had any luck or have they had any luck or are you just married to the game?

I am a gentleman when it comes to those sorts of revelations . .

Q. Have you got a plan? (career plan) What’s the plan atm?
The plan today is to swim and bike, eat and travel back to Dublin. Anything else is a bonus. I will probably have a similar day tomorrow and the next day . . :-)

Q. I wonder how you stayed motivated to keep going for the Olympics after you missed it the first time. There must have been some fairly rough days out biking in the cold on yer own and you didn’t even know if you were going to get anywhere or did you?

I always knew :-) If you do not have confidence in yourself or intrinsic motivation then that's when you do not go out cycling alone or in the cold . . I am an Irish triathlete so if training alone or the cold got to me I wouldn't still be here.

What kept you motivated on those kind of days?

I have a sweet tooth and so I would have felt guilty having that custard and apple tart if I hadn't exercised :-)

Have you any kind of solid belief about yourself or life in general that you hang on to when the going gets tough?

Eventually the pace will let up ......

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