30. Lunch with… Charly Wegelius
December 8 | This is the first in an occasional series of podcasts called Lunch with The Cycling Podcast.
Lionel Birnie is joined by Charly Wegelius, the former professional rider who wrote the book about being a domestique, and is now one of the most highly-rated young sports directors working in the UCI World Tour.
They meet at the Plum and Spilt Milk restaurant at London's Kings Cross to discuss professional cycling over lunch. The conversation covers Charly's childhood growing up in Yorkshire with his mum and brother but travelling to Finland to stay with his dad, who was a Olympic showjumper.
Charly turned professional in 2000 with the biggest team of the day, Mapei-Quick Step. But he experienced both ends of the spectrum because when Mapei pulled the plug on the team, Wegelius battled to remain in the pro ranks with a small Italian team, earning the respect of more established riders by learning the role of team support rider.
Wegelius did not win a race in a career that spanned more than a decade but he did ride and finish the Giro d'Italia seven times, plus the Tour de France and Vuelta a España. But despite not being one of the sport's winners, he feels his career path is an advantage now he has to manage riders who range from the most talented to those hoping to do enough to secure another contract.
He talks about the sports director's job, Cannondale-Drapac's winless 2016 season in the World Tour and planning for the coming season and also describes living in Finland between races.
The Cycling Podcast is supported by Rapha and Eurosport.