Meet Joe Truman, the only British keirin rider in Japan

Joe Truman has been the only British keirin rider racing in Japan for the past couple of years. We caught up with him to hear all about his experience and how his focus now is on the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

After the 2017 World Cup season, Joe Truman received the call he had been hoping for, one that he says ticks off one half of his cycling career bucket list.

The 22-year-old from Hampshire had been asked if he’d like to travel nearly 6,000 miles across the world to Japan to race in the keirin.

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The day after he had finished with the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018, he finally signed his contract and flew straight out to Japan, becoming the first British rider since Matt Crampton earlier this decade to do so.

It’s been a learning curve, getting used to team-mates throwing salt over their bikes, training by walking on stilts, and adapting to never having a race called off, no matter what weather lambasts the outdoor tracks – no UCI extreme weather protocols to be found here.

Aside from Crampton, the most famous Brit to have raced the Japanese keirin is one whose career Joe would undoubtedly love to emulate in terms of success. Chris Hoy raced in Japan in the mid-noughties and recently was back in Asia paying a visit to Truman and the other riders.

“It was nice having him out there, and good for the other riders as well, like he was swamped by Japanese riders so that was really cool.”

When racing for Team GB, Joe has the advantage of the full support staff in Manchester, but in Japan he’s more or less on his own, which he says proved to be the biggest hurdle.

“The hardest thing [about being out in Japan] is not having all the support support staff in Manchester,” he says.

“If you have an injury in Manchester, you can probably get seen within ten minutes. Or if you need a massage you can usually get one that day. But out there I’m completely on my own. No coaches, no support staff, so that’s quite hard.

“But again, it’s like, it’s a blessing in disguise because you learn to be more independent, and you learn to look after your body well. I think it sort of helps you grow as an athlete.”

You can watch the full video interview with Joe Truman on Cycling Weekly’s Instagram.

Joe has now returned home after two successful seasons that has seen his win percentage in the high 70s, but what’s next for him? “It’s just under a year now until Tokyo, so it’s all gearing up towards that,” Joe says. “We’ve got a team of five and obviously we’re all trying to get to that team sprint of three men.”

After the Japanese keirin, the Olympics forms the other half of the bucket list of Joe’s hopes for his cycling career.

“Now I’m back I’m just fully focused on the international scene and almost solely focused on team sprint after having a few months of just keirin, so it’s nice to be back with the squad and training with all the boys.”