Preview: Cross at Callendar Park

Preview: Cross at Callendar Park

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Posted: 18th October 2013

Article by: Morven Brown, Scottish Cycling


Two weeks have past since the Scottish Cyclocross season got off to a blistering start at Auchentoshan. For the racers, these two weeks will have been full of cleaning and preparing bicycles, gluing ‘tubs’, and mentally and physically preparing themselves for the challenges of the rest of the season.

Round two of the Ridley Scottish Cyclocross series continues in the traditional theme, with a return to Callendar Park in Falkirk. With well over 300 riders already pre-entered, huge fields of racers will be lining up on Sunday to take on the excellent, fast and exciting course laid out by Franco Porco and his fantastic team.

The course features the ‘cross classic, grass, and lots of it! A fast, gravel path start will test the racers early on, with every cyclist searching for the ever-shrinking space and plenty of shoulder to shoulder action to delight spectators. From there it’s onto the grass, where switchbacks are the order of the day with off-camber corners aplenty. Following short, steep banking – which for the top athletes may be rideable – racers will be pushing down on the pedals to sneak a place or two on the straight, fast sections. A true test of cyclocross capabilities, the Callendar Park course will challenge even the most competent of riders, on a truly classic style course. And all that is without mentioning the heavy rain which has been falling all week…

As usual, first off will be the Under 12 categories, where mini-racers will head to the start line of a mini-course. For 10 minutes of short laps and incredibly fast and furious racing, the stars of tomorrow will kick off the competitive atmosphere. The marked man in the field will be Jamie Johnstone of Thomsons Cycles, the winner at SCX1 at Auchentoshan, and the current British and Scottish U12 Champion. It will take a strong rider to pip Johnstone to top spot, however with 60 other racers so far entered, the challenges will come from every angle. Fellow Scottish cross country racer Kier Robb (Team Bicycles) returns to cyclocross action, and having provided some fine battles throughout the summer season, these two young lads will set up a fine cyclocross dual. In the girls race, both The U12 and U10 winners from Auchentoshan, Niamh Doherty of Glasgow Riderz and Morven Yeoman (East Kilbride Road Club) are both already entered, setting up a fine race.

The Youth girls race will be a highlight of the day, as Round1 winner Anna McGorum (Peebles CC) faces tough competition from the combined worlds of road, track and mountain bike. Taking to the course to complete as many laps as possible in 30 minutes, the riders will barely have time to stop and recover, even on the flat straights. Cross Country MTB specialist Katie Allen from Thomsons Cycles, star of the road scene Emma Borthwick (Edinburgh RC) and track specialist Ellie Park (Glasgow Riderz) will all be hoping to reach the top spot of the podium. The Youth (U16) winner from Auchentoshan Joe Nally will hope to make it two wins from two, however Under14 rider Sean Flynn (Edinburgh RC) will be looking to push the older rider all the way to the finish. With the rest of the podium places from Auchentoshan also already entered, these young racers will be ripping up the race course in an epic battle for Callendar Park victory. Conner Johnstone of Leslie Bikeshop will be a rider to watch, having collected a new bike this week and strengthening throughout the mountain bike season.

It looks set to be a family affair in the next race with the father and daugheter duo of Brendan and Eileen Roe looking to both claim the spoils in the Veteran 50+ and Womens categories respectively. Having pushed the junior riders all the way to the bell at Auchentoshan, Brendan has shown that age is no barrier to top performance. Eileen, as the reigning Scottish Cyclocross Champion and having begun her cycling career on grass track, will look to take the victory at Falkirk. The women’s race may not be so clear cut, however, with Round 1 victor, Maddy Robinson (Velo Club Moulin) facing stiff competition from the rising stars of both the mountain bike and road scene. Scottish and British Cross Country Champion, Erika Allen from Thomsons Cycles and the biggest emerging talent of the road, Louise Borthwick (Edinburgh RC) will both be hoping that youth will be on their side in their challenge for the top spot. Harry Johnstone (Thomsons Cycles) and Conor Nally (www.Hardie-Bikes.com) will continue their duel in the Junior category, with talented mountain biker Pearce Sommerville hoping to bring a further challenge to the pair. For 40 full minutes of racing, all these riders will be battling right to the final bell.

With almost 80 pre-entries, the creation of the Veteran 40-49 category is proving to be a resounding success, and as one of the most fast paced and competitive categories is certainly one for spectators to enjoy. Local rider and winner from Auchentoshan Gary McCrae (Leslie Bikeshop) will be fending off challenges from all angles, including his ever-strong teammates. James Melville and Stephen Jackson from Glasgow United will be hoping to keep their feet planted on the podium, but none of these riders should get too comfortable. Second place at the Scottish Cross Country Championships John McCaffrey (Leslie Bikeshop) should never be ruled out, and with an entirely Team Leslie Bikeshop podium at Callendar Park last year, the local riders will be raring for success. The two Gordons, Traynor (Spokes Racing Team) and Chisholm (Perth United CC) will also be hoping to get into the top rankings. Never one to be ruled out, and runner up at the Rothesay Cycling weekend, Gordon Dickson from Rockhard MBC is also a tipped rider.

Finally, there comes the Senior field where over 80 riders are pre-entered, providing an hour long race which will be fast-paced, competitive and intense. Again, there are a few notable omissions from the entry, with last year’s top 5 from Callendar Park not yet entered. However, the field is by no means weaker, with some extremely big names set to create an excellent race with fiery competition. Team GB rider and Commonwealth Games hopeful Grant Ferguson (Superior Brentjens), back in Scotland after a highly illustrious season racing internationally, in certainly going to be aiming for the victory. On paper, it may look like a certain win for Ferguson, but Iain Paton (Ben Wyvis) will be looking to upset the professional riders rhythm, moving up from winning the Junior category last year at Callendar Park.

Added into the mix, will be the full podium from Auchentoshan of Roger Campbell Crawford (Thomsons Cycles) who may or may not use a cyclocross bike for the event, instead preferring his reliable mountain bike, which saw him take victory at the Scottish Cross Country Championships. Steve Halsall (Velo Club Moulin), Sean Clark and Scott Logan (Thebicycleworks.com) will all be hoping to move further up the field following their top 5 finishes at Auchentoshan, and by the end of the hour of tough racing, any of these riders could end up on the podium.

There is set to be an excellent day of racing, which will be as equally enjoyable for the racers as the spectators on the compact and feature-filled Callendar Park course in Falkirk. With local course organiser Franco Porco and his team of race pixies having created this fantastic event, the large entry fields of riders are testament to the draw of this venue. Entries on the day will be limited so riders are advised to arrive early to guarantee entry, and spectators are encouraged to come along and support the racers as they complete up to an hour of extremely tough racing. Catering will again be provided by the Grange Kitchen, keeping everyone well-fuelled with plenty of hot food and drinks throughout the day. The Scottish Cyclocross Association would like to thank Ridley Bikes, Madison and Lazer for their continued support of the series.