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Aviemore cycle star undergoes crash course in tandem riding for Commonwealth Games

By Will Clark

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Ellie Stone will compete as a pilot in the upcoming games.
Ellie Stone will compete as a pilot in the upcoming games.

Ellie Stone has undergone a crash course in tandem riding to prepare herself to represent Scotland at the Commonwealth Games.

The Aviemore cyclist will compete with three-time Paralympic Games gold medallist Aileen McGlynn which starts at the end of the month.

Stone (21) will be a pilot for McGlynn (48) who is partially sighted, in the tandem cycling event when she makes her debut in the games.

The former Forres Academy pupil, who won two national track titles in keirin and 500 metres time trial in March, missed out on a place to compete in the individual events when the squad was announced.

But when she got the chance to ride with McGlynn, despite having no experience in tandem riding, she was keen to grasp the opportunity.

“It was not a last-minute thing but I didn’t find out until it was close to the team getting announced,” she said.

“I wasn’t selected to ride solo, but there was an opportunity to ride tandem.

“I jumped on the chance and I hopped on the tandem with Aileen and learned with her.

“We got the space of a week before the team was selected and it has been a whirlwind.

“I have never ridden tandem previously, it has been a crash course as I have only been on it since May.

“My first competition on tandem will be the Commonwealth Games, so it is has been quite intense.

“But I feel I have picked it up a lot easier than I thought I would and it is down to how experienced Aileen is.

“She knows so much which has made it easier to pick things up quickly. We are doing well in my opinion.”

While Stone is making her debut at the Commonwealth Games, McGlynn from Paisley is no stranger to the big stage.

She has competed at four Paralympic Games, winning seven medals, including three gold.

McGlynn also won two silver medals at the Commonwealth Games at Glasgow in 2014 but has never won gold at the event.

Stone says her experience of winning on the international stage, as well as riding on tandem, will be invaluable as they prepare for the Games.

“Once she found out I was interested in being her pilot, she started coming up with training regimes and I have been finding out all about her,” she said.

“She has been to so many games and it has been amazing hearing about all her experiences.

“We have to communicate well to be successful, I need to know how she is best on race days, so the way I race doesn’t distract her.

“It is about getting into her head and we can both perform our best. "She knows the best way for her and I am still relatively new to racing at this level and I am still trying to figure it out.

“It is good to have someone like that who has lots of ideas for me.

“I am quite naïve to tandem, but I know how strong Aileen is and I know if we can keep the bike in a straight line, we have a good chance of a medal.”

Stone was a latecomer to cycling, only transferring to the sport in 2018 after previously being a sprint hurdler with the Inverness Harriers, which she is still involved with today.

But not satisfied with the progress she was making in athletics, she switched her focus to cycling, which has paid off for her.

“I did athletics for eight years before I transferred in 2018 across to cycling,” she said.

“I went through a UK Sport Talent Transfer, I was drawn to it as I wasn’t hitting the level of athletics that I wanted.

“I want to be up there at the top and be much better than I was doing at athletics.

“This opportunity came and I thought I couldn’t pass it up and it resulted me getting involved in cycling.”

The track cycling events will take place in London due to a lack of velodrome in Birmingham, but it will not make it any less special for Stone who is looking forward to representing her country.

Stone says her family will be coming down to watch her compete with Aileen and is pleased she kept a promise to her mum that she would compete at a major international event.

She said: “When I used to go to Inverness for athletics training, my mum said if I am travelling all this way, I had to promise her I would get to the Olympics.

“I thought it was quite hard, but my mum wanted to make sure I put everything into it."

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