MX23RW : Saturday, September 22 01:48:17

Interview: Team England's gold medal-winning cyclist Charlie Tanfield

Team England gold medal winner Charlie Tanfield speaks to Sports Mole about his meteoric rise to the top of cycling and why the Tokyo Olympics are now on his radar.

When it comes to meteoric rises in the world of sport, you will be hard-pressed to find a more remarkable one right now than that of Team England cyclist Charlie Tanfield.

Still an Engineering student at the University of Derby, the 21-year-old only began seriously riding again two years ago but he already has a number of major titles to his name.

A gold medal in the team pursuit at the World Championships earlier this year was the clearest signal of his rapid ascent to the upper echelons of cycling, and a fourth-placed finish in the individual event also suggested that success was not far away on that front either.

Those achievements saw the amateur selected for the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, and he marked his first major multi-sport event with silver in the team pursuit on Thursday.

Things would get even better just 24 hours later, though, and when Tanfield crossed the line for gold in the individual men's 4000m pursuit he well and truly announced himself as one of his country's leading cyclists - despite not being a member of the well-funded British Cycling team.

Following his individual triumph, Charlie spoke to Sports Mole about his gold-medal winning ride, his hopes of turning professional and why the 2020 Tokyo Olympics are now on his agenda.

Charlie - you're a Commonwealth champion! Has it started to sink in yet?

"No, definitely not, although I think by the end of the day I'll come to the realisation a bit more than I have this morning. Yes, I've really enjoyed it."

Could you talk us through the race? You came out very fast - was that the plan?

"Yes, well in qualifying I went out, I knew I had to hold on to it all and I left all the complications until the last two laps so I could top it at the end there. I had good legs on the day, but in the final I underestimated how much conditions changed and it was a lot harder in the final.

"I think John [Archibald] might have done the same thing where he went too hard and paid the price almost at the end, so you learn from those experiences and try not to make the same mistakes again."

Archibald closed the gap a lot in the final kilometre - were you aware of your lead diminishing?

"I knew he was coming and I knew John always finishes strongly as well, so I had it in the back of my mind at the start of the race that that was what was going to happen, so I was prepared for it. I managed to hold him off at the finish."

Even during that final kilometre, did you always feel in control of the race?

"In the final kilometre it was very much touch and go! I tried to save a bit for the finish and I don't know, it was just hanging on for the finish. To finish it off like that was great."

You also broke the Games record in qualifying and were part of the silver medal-winning team pursuit - how would you reflect on this as a debut Games?

"Just the experience itself is great. It's my first multi-sport event, so I'm just trying to enjoy as much of it as I can, enjoying my time here."

Are you surprised how quickly you've progressed throughout the ranks?

"I guess so, I've never really doubted myself as such and I guess I've been consistent all year round, so one thing after another has happened and before I knew it I was here.

"It has been quite shocking how much more people recognise me. That type of thing has changed quite a lot. It's very different now."

What is next for you now?

"On the track is the European Championships, that's early August time, then eventually the ultimate goal would be Olympic Games. That's what the final destination will be I guess."

How long have you been targeting those Tokyo Games for?

"I never really have - after worlds, after the Commonwealth Games, I guess that's the next step up really. I guess that's the only logical way you can go after that."

Presumably a move into professional cycling is next for you...

"Definitely. Ultimately cycling is something I love to do, so to be able to do that as a job, that would be absolutely amazing."

What's the process for that? Are you waiting for an offer?

"I guess it would be with British Cycling, so I have to find out after the Commonwealth Games what's happening, and I'll probably know more then. On the road I've already signed the contract for a professional team as well, so I'll be looking forward to that next year."

What are your plans for the rest of the Games?

"I might be doing the road time trial as well in four days' time, so I've still got that, but I want some time to relax and enjoy the whole Games feel. In Britain it's terrible rain and snowing so I'll make the most of this!"

What's the difference being in the Team England camp compared to Team GB?

"It's a very similar feel, although this Games has been very relaxed. I guess I quite like it - it suits me well when everybody's focused but also have the right balance of having focus and also being able to have fun as well, which works really well. "

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