‘Unemployable’ Hayles buzzing in retirement

Rob Hayles, left, won the madison at the 2005 world championships with great friend Mark Cavendish, who he still works closely with
Rob Hayles, left, won the madison at the 2005 world championships with great friend Mark Cavendish, who he still works closely with
Mike Williams on his way to second place in the veteran 50 race last month. Picture: Neil Marshall (171322-123)

Wheelers prepare for Wessex war

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Summariser, reporter, coach and PA (that’s performance assistant) to the greatest sprinter on the planet.

Oh, and don’t forget author – well, with a little help from a friend.

Not a bad CV for a man who considered himself ‘unemployable’ without the best part of 7kg of carbon fibre to lean on.

It is no surprise then that Rob Hayles is loving life out of the saddle.

The two-time world champion, triple Olympic medallist and Commonwealth champion – not to mention British road race champion – retired from professional cycling in 2011.

And while he misses the adrenaline rush of racing, he has no regrets after turning his back on the long, lonely hours of training.

‘It took me a couple of worlds and world cups to get the hang of not being out there,’ explained the 40-year-old from Horndean.

‘But I am over it now – I’m so over it now.

‘I’m absolutely loving the various bits and pieces I do.

‘The actual racing, I do miss – that is one thing, putting the number on my back – but I don’t miss the training at all.

‘I stopped with the track squad in 2009 but still had involvement, along with Matt Parker the coach and Chris Boardman, doing all the background stuff for the Olympics – the clothing, the bikes and all that.

‘I was really interested in that side of it, so still had a connection with the squad when I stopped being funded.

‘Then I rode for two years with the Scottish team Endura.

‘It was just to kind of find my way because I still wasn’t ready to stop cycling and stop racing.

‘I still enjoyed it but at that point I started to dovetail a bit more of the media stuff in.

‘I was doing stuff with BBC, Eurosport and then more and more opportunities started to come around.

‘I did the Cycle Show on ITV4 – and we are filming a second series in August.

‘And now Sky are obviously covering more cycling, too.

‘So there are more and more opportunities there for someone who I considered unemployable!’

Hayles covered the three-week Giro d’Italia for various outlets, including Sky, last month and is currently Eurosport’s pre and post-race reporter at the Tour de France.

He has replaced the buzz of cruising wheel-to-wheel in the pro peloton with the thrill of live broadcasting – and he’s damn good at it.

But the inaugural Tour Series winner, who grew up riding the track at Portsmouth’s Mountbatten Centre, still puts his years of experience on two wheels to good use.

Hayles added: ‘I also work with Cav (Mark Cavendish) as his kind of right-hand man when he is not racing, which is great.

‘We go all the way back to 2005 when we were on the track together.

‘Now I just try to help him keep his life as simple as possible, so he can concentrate on his bike riding and anything else outside of that he wants to do.

‘I’m there as a training partner most of the time, which is really good for him – and I can do it on a scooter!

‘I always found it tough riding on my own, getting myself out the door was quite difficult.

‘If you are not feeling that great you need a morale booster, so to ride alongside someone is great.

‘I ride a scooter, loaded up with spare wheels and stuff, so if he punctures he doesn’t have to mess around, especially in the winter when it is cold and wet.

‘Last week we were barrelling into blind bends with him an inch from my back wheel, that is my buzz now.

‘It is good fun but it is important stuff and makes a difference, that is what I like.’

Hayles added: ‘We have got various job titles for me.

‘I tend to call it PA – but it’s performance assistant!

‘Such a high-powered title but it’s a load of rubbish really.

‘I just enjoy the fact I have various things I am able to do.

‘One minute I am washing his bike, or rattling around the country lanes with him and the next I am on live TV or radio and that is another buzz.

‘I am in different places all the time, so I feel very, very fortunate.’