Scottish cycling star John Paul blogs for Digby Brown

Cycling in the Summer

Digby Brown were thrilled to play our part in the success of Glasgow 2014 and Team Scotland, providing personal sponsorship of John Paul, one of Scotland’s rising cycling stars.  John shares his experiences of a memorable couple of weeks in this latest blog (scroll down to read John’s blogs on his training and pre-games preparation)

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My Commonwealth Games experience,

Firstly I’d like to say a massive thanks to everyone who has supported me, my family and friends and my sponsors, Digby Brown, without this help it would be difficult to train at an International level. I’m also very happy and proud to have competed in my 2nd Commonwealth Games.

The track cycling in the velodrome was fantastic and although I just missed out in qualifying for the sprint rounds, I managed a PB in the 200m TT, placing 14th overall, it is a step in the right direction and it has also given me some areas to improve in the future.

The Keirin event was a bit better, I had a good ride in round one qualifying straight through to the semi finals, unfortunately I didn’t execute the semi final as I wanted and went into the minor final for 7th – 12th place where I finished 5th and 11th overall in the competition. The experience from these games has been invaluable for the future and the atmosphere in the velodrome was out of this world, the home support was immense, the way they cheered us on is something I’ll always remember.

Being in the athletes village was certainly one of the highlights of the games it was so friendly and the atmosphere was brilliant, being able to chat with World and Olympic champions and get tips on training was fantastic. I’m looking forward to preparing a long term training plan for the next four years up to the next Commonwealth Games and targeting other competitions between now and then. 

Until my next blog, cheers, JP

Cylclist John Paul with his bike at Velodrome

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The latest from Scottish Cycling star John Paul. 

For my next blog I thought I’d explain a little about the different track cycling sprint events I compete in. There are four main sprint events in the Velodrome; Individual Match Sprint, Team Sprint, Keirin and the Kilometre Time Trial.

Individual Match Sprint

This event begins with qualification. Individually, each rider builds up speed over 3 laps of the track and they are timed over the last 200 metres.   Normally the 24 fastest riders progress to the 1st round where they are seeded, with the fastest rider meeting the slowest rider, second fastest against second slowest and so on.  It is important to get a good time and finish as high as possible in the seedings to avoid coming up against the fastest riders early in the competition.

Round 1 is a straight knockout with the winners progressing to the 2nd round, the losers exit the competition at this stage.  2nd round winners automatically progress to the quarter finals with the remaining places being decided by the winners of repechages. Repechages give the losing riders from the 2nd round another chance to continue in the competition. From the quarter finals stage onwards winners are decided over the best of 3 heats.

Match Sprints are raced over 3 laps of the track.  Riders’ race against one another to be the first one over the finish line, tactics can play a big part in the outcome of the race.  Sometimes you will see riders perform track stands, a strategic move where they come to a complete stop, balancing in place in order to force their opponent to take the lead spot. The tactic here is that the second rider then tucks in neatly behind his opponent sheltering as he sets the pace and does the hard work pedaling in front. Then, when it comes to the final explosive sprint the second place rider uses the slip stream of the rider in front to gain an advantage and power past to take the victory, very often the margin of the win is a few centimetres.

John Paul cycling around the velodrome

Team Sprint

A three man time trial held over 3 laps of the track, with teams starting on opposite sides of the track. After the end of each lap, the leading rider pulls off completely, leaving the next rider to complete the next lap. Therefore, the first rider has to do one lap, the second rider two laps and the last rider three laps. Hence, rider number one needs to be explosive and get the team up to speed as quickly as possible, rider two has to maintain that speed and hand over to rider three who typically has the best endurance, usually a good kilo time trial rider, e.g. Sir Chris Hoy or Francois Pervis are riders normally chosen for this position. After the initial time trial, the two quickest times will ride against each other for 1st and 2nd, the next two quickest times ride against each other for 3rd place.


The Keirin, which is conducted over several rounds, is an 8 lap, 2000m race in which a small derny bike paces 6-8 riders around the track for five-and-a-half laps. Because the derny provides a slipstream, the cyclists can go at much higher speeds than in other track races. After the gun fires signaling the start of the race riders jostle for position behind the derny which increases its speed from 25 kph to 50 kph with only inches between each rider all in a line. 

Riders must stay behind the back wheel of the derny until with two and a half laps to go to the finish the derny leaves the track unleashing a frenetic scramble for the line by the riders. Whilst it is not a full contact sport by any means, physical contact often occurs between riders as they attempt to manoeuvre themselves into the prime spot for the sprint and sometimes there can be spectacular crashes.

Kilometre Time Trial: Probably the most painful of track disciplines, the “Kilo” as it is known is raced as a time trial over 1000m. To do well in this event you need to have a quick start, good top speed and good endurance to carry you through the last few hundred metres where by then the lactic acid build up in your legs becomes almost intolerable.

Cheers, JP

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Monday 14th April marks the start of the 100 day countdown until this summer’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Digby Brown are excited to be playing our part. Earlier this year, we announced personal sponsorship of John Paul, one of Scotland’s rising cycling stars, in the run up to the games in July.  

With 100 days until the game, we’re delighted to have John blogging for us on his training and pre-games preparation – read his blog below and watch this space for more updates.

John Paul With Digby Brown CEO Fraser Oliver and Associate Solicitor Laura McManus at Velodrome

Left to right, Digby Brown Chief Executive Fraser Oliver, John Paul, Laura McManus, head of our specialist cycling team, at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome 

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John Paul's Blog 

Hi everyone, just a quick update on how training has been going and our pre-Commonwealth Games road camp in Mallorca. The year started well with me racing for GB at the World Cup in Mexico and coming home with a Bronze medal in the Team Sprint. However, after returning home in late January I had a bad spell of sickness and then in early February I contracted tonsillitis which set me back a couple of weeks, it has taken two visits to the Doctors and two courses of antibiotics to try and shift it.

Then at the end of February I had just got back into the training routine, only to suffer a freak accident in the gym whilst performing cleans and thought I’d broken my wrist but fortunately the x-ray showed no fractures, only sprained ligaments. They do say things come in threes, so hopefully that’s my lot for now. February was not a good month for me training wise.

However, I was looking forward to mid-March and meeting up with the rest of the Scottish performance squad in Manchester before flying out for an 11 day road/gym training camp in Mallorca. We were staying in a nice hotel called the Finca Es Castell which was quite rural. The food was good and there was an outdoor swimming pool where we could chill out.

I was a bit apprehensive at the prospect of 10 or so days covering 70-100-km rides in the hills! Not what we sprinters are used to doing at all!  However, after the first few days I started to get into it and enjoyed the rides with my team mates and of course some fantastic scenery and mixed but generally good weather.

Most of the climbs were tough, (actually all of them were) but in particular, Sa Calobra. The descents were brilliant, I now understand what the tour riders’ face when descending at speed, you can easily reach 60-70kmh in some parts, not that we were ever doing that! Making sure you have the correct line round corners is very important to stay on the road.

When we weren’t on a long road ride, every other day was a gym session. We rode there and back which was approx. a one hour ride each way - that was our easy days!

All in all it was a great camp with a good bunch of team mates and hopefully has set me up for some quality training and hopefully selection ahead of the Commonwealth Games which is only 16 weeks away.

Until my next blog, cheers, JP