Teenage cyclist Oscar Nilsson-Julien becomes national youth omnium champion
- Credit: Archant
Despite spending plenty of time at one of the world’s oldest cycling tracks, racing initially held little interest for Kentish Town teenager Oscar Nilsson-Julien.
Oscar would regularly travel to the 125-year-old Herne Hill Velodrome in south London with his father Olivier, who coaches there with Velo Club Londres, but it was only two years ago that he began competitive cycling.
Yet the 14-year-old, who now trains five times a week, recently became the British Cycling national youth omnium champion in his age group and dreams of turning professional one day.
The omnium, which comprises five different events held on the same day, is regarded as a prestigious achievement for track cyclists – and will be contested by Sir Bradley Wiggins at the Rio Olympics.
Olivier said: “At first Oscar didn’t want to race – he enjoyed the social aspect of the velodrome, but then he just became hooked on it himself.
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“The advantage of a velodrome is that, even if you’re not cycling, you’re still there and you make friends and become part of a community. The culture of the club encourages people to race.
“When he started he was completely knackered but he’s trained hard – there are a lot of late nights at Herne Hill, or sometimes Lee Valley – and you need a lot of stamina to do the omnium in one day.
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“He didn’t really have the confidence to do it, but you come to a point where you think maybe you can. There’s a lot of psychology involved and I’m sure winning the nationals will give him an extra five per cent.”
Oscar, a student at the CFBL French school in Kentish Town, is supported by GLL Sport Foundation funding.
He picked up a bronze medal at the national omnium two years ago and upgraded to gold at this year’s event in Cardiff, winning four of the five events – time trial, scratch, elimination race and keirin – to finish ahead of Evan Richards of Wales and Scotland’s Hamish McLaren with a sizeable points margin.
In between those omnium successes, the youngster also finished fourth in the Assen European Junior Tour – a mini Tour de France contested by around 700 riders, in which he won the prologue.
“The track’s a more controlled environment, whereas the road is more complex so you need more consistency in the European Junior Tour,” added Olivier.
“The next target for Oscar is to improve his riding on the road. He has to be more patient – a lot of it is so tactical and he’ll tend to attack in the middle of a long road race.
“If you ride against the pack on your own you’re not going to win it. He’s the fastest at his age in the country and he’s strong, but he hasn’t yet converted it on the national stage in road races.
“At the moment, he says he wants to be a pro but I think you have to take one year at a time and we’ll see how it goes. So many things can happen and, if you do make it, it’s a very hard job.”
The family would like to thank Handsling Bikes and Dare 2b Clothing for all their support of Oscar’s cycling career to date.