Some of Scotland's best youth cyclists will descend on the Grampian Transport Museum in Alford this Sunday (18th May) for the 2014 Grampian Grand Prix. First run in 2009 the event is returning to its original name, having been run as Cyclefest over the past three years, and its original aim of developing youth cycle racing in the North East of Scotland.
Ythan Cycling Club, one of the most successful clubs in Scotland in terms of coaching and developing youth cyclists, have joined forces with Aberdeenshire Sports Council to deliver this years event, which is also forming part of the Scottish Youth Road Race Series. Having sponsored the U16 race at last years event, the Sports Council, which is Scotland's largest, have now stepped up their support by taking over as the main sponsor.
Over 40 youths aged 7-15 years old will take part in a number of races at the famous Alford track with riders travelling from as far away as Edinburgh, Glasgow and East Sutherland to compete for the opportunity of winning a coveted Gold Winners jersey courtesy of Aberdeenshire Sports Council who have also provided Gold, Silver and Bronze medals for the riders who secure podium places.
Race Organiser Malcolm Grant was delighted to receive the support from the Sports Council saying " This enhanced partnership with Aberdeenshire Sports Council has allowed us to secure the Grampian Grand Prix as one of the premier youth cycling events in Scotland. The Sports Council has a long term strategy of supporting grass roots sport in Aberdeenshire and the Grampian Grand Prix also has that as a central aim. Along with the previous Cyclefest events the past six years have featured riders who have progressed to be part of theScottish National Squad structures including Mintlaw rider Zak Loney and Aberdeen's Craig Wallace, a former junior race medallist at Alford, who is now pursuing his dream of a professional career by living and racing in Spain. These early racing experiences play a big part in the progression of young cyclists but every year the coaches, volunteers and parents always reflect on the enthusiasm that the riders show and most importantly the fun that they have when they race on the track at Alford".
Aberdeenshire Sports Council Chairman Alan Still viewed the backing of the youth races as "reaching the core of what we do" saying " As one of the most progressive and prominent Sports Councils in Scotland our backing of an event such as the Grampian Grand Prix means that we secure a number of our aims, firstly ensuring that young athletes have the opportunity to compete, develop and progress and secondly helping to secure participation in sport by youths from across Aberdeenshire and Scotland. This year is a pivotal one for Scottish Sport as we edge closer to Glasgow 2014 and hopefully some of the youngsters we will watch racing at Alford will feature in future Commonwealth Games". Racing starts at 10am with the Under 8 Race before each of the five age groups compete in two races with the combined results deciding the destination of the winners jerseys and medals."
Whilst the youth riders race on the track their senior colleagues will be taking on the steep climbs of Donside when the 2014 Scottish Mens and Womens Road Race Championships also take place in Alford. With the men's race featuring the defending champion Gary Hand (KTM Road and Trail.com), Commonwealth medallist James McCallum (NFTO) and last years British Premier Series winner Evan Oliphant (Team Raleigh) it promises to produce some sparkling racing on a course that will take on the climbs of Brindie and Suie.
In the women's race, home hopes lie with Julie Erskine (Velosport-Pasta Montegrappa) who will be taking on the defending champion Jennifer Taylor (Starley Primal Pro Cycling) and her teammates Eileen Roe and Jane Barr. The men's race will start from the Alford Dry Ski Slope at 11am followed by the women's race at 1115am.
Further details about Aberdeenshire Sports Council can be found at http://absportco.org.uk/index.php