Patience pays off for Max Clegg at Edinburgh Monarchs
They say good things come to those who wait and Max Clegg's patience in waiting to hear from Edinburgh Monarchs has paid off, with the 19-year-old rider earning a new contract for 2017 and a third spell at Armadale.
It can be argued that having lost out in the race to sign Dan Bewley, Monarchs are fortunate that Clegg did not look elsewhere for employment and he certainly does not think of himself as a second-choice candidate.
In fact, Clegg is fulsome in his praise for Monarchs and said: “I’m very pleased to be back because it has been very hard for some riders to find teams after the team building points limit was cut. I was delighted when I received the call from Edinburgh and it was definitely good news for me.”
Clegg will be a pivotal rider next season and he is determined to raise his profile as he looks towards the next rung on his career ladder.
“It was a good season for me this year and I made some good progression,” he said. “That was an important thing for me and I’d like to raise my average next year if I possibly can.
“I made a slow start this season and I’m not quite sure why that happened. I was on a new engine which didn’t perform the way I had hoped it would, but then it started to run smoothly and that was the chief reason why I enjoyed such a good spell over the second half of the season, it was perfect for me.”
On occasions Clegg appeared to be fighting the bike, but insists it had nothing to do with the Armadale track. “I like the track and from a riders’s point of view it is always well prepared,” he said. “It’s my kind of track and I feel I have adapted to it well during my two years with Edinburgh, and I enjoy riding it.”
The young and softly-spoken Yorkshireman realises that next season is an important one from a personal standpoint and the expectation levels, which will inevitably increase among supporters.
“A higher average for sure must be one of my first goals,” said Clegg, “and I also need to improve on some of the away tracks. That’s where I have struggled over the last couple of years. I need to nail the away circuits.
“I don’t know why I struggle around some of the bigger circuits I just do and I have to turn this weakness around.”
Asked if gating was a factor, Clegg replied: “Gating is important no matter what the size of the track is. At Armadale, for instance, there are a few racing lines, so if I miss the gate it is easier to make up lost ground on my rivals.”
In a bid to rub shoulders against top-quality riders, Clegg has decided not to compete in the National League in 2017, but conceded the lower tier has been of great benefit to him thus far.
He explained: “I really need to be riding against high quality opposition to take me to the next level on my career path, but the National League has helped get me to where I am right now.
“I started off in that division with Scunthorpe in 2012 and then I joined Cradley Heathens the following year where I captained them and also became their No.1 rider. “That was pretty good when I look back, but now I need to concentrate on the Championship division with Edinburgh. It’s for my own benefit as well.”
Clegg, however, will double-up with Wolverhampton Wolves again to help them defend their Elite League title.
“There is a big difference in the top league,” he explained. “It’s a lot more faster out of the gate and a lot of the riders are more experienced. “But the time I spend in the top flight can only be good for me. I’ll also be getting more track time and that just adds to the experience I can pick up from that and I’m happy to be back with Wolves as well.”
From what he has seen of the probable look of the Monarchs squad for next season, Clegg is impressed, saying: “We are looking really strong and I’m pretty confident we can regain our championship crown. It was not ideal that we lost it this year.
“I also think bringing Ricky Wells in is an ace signing. I rode with him at Wolves and he is a great rider who goes really well round Armadale and is also good at most of the away tracks as well.”
The rebranded Championship could be one of the closest title chases in a long time according to Clegg and he added: “Because of the new rules it could be a very challenging season for everybody with a lot of sides fancying their chances.
“Although it’s early days I’ll have new bikes for next year and I can’t wait for it to start.”