What a weekend for cycle racing in Scotland! The inaugural Glasgow Sprint Grand Prix, Round 1 of the Lapierre Scottish Cyclocross Series at Falkirk and the last of the road-based National titles up for grabs at Ingliston with the Circuit Race Championships.
The West Lothian Clarion CC, led by Matthew Ball and his cohorts of helpers, had put together a fantastic event at the Royal Highland Showground. Keen to get as much help, and funds, for the West Lothian Cycle Project the organisers had everything ready for a great day of racing. The early starters had the best of the sunshine but it stayed fair all the way through the day with only the lightest threat of a shower from time to time.
Riding a slightly different course to previous events, it was the wind that would play a bigger part in the proceedings: a strong headwind back from the top turn, through the ‘haymaker’ chicane and onto the run down to the final bend it would catch some riders out and allow gaps to appear between the wheels.
With so many fantastic performances it’s always difficult to pick a rider of the day. Our nominations go to two riders who both finished on the podiums of their races but neither was on the top step, although they both ride for the same team. From the men we’ve chosen Finn Crockett (Spokes RT) who crashed and lost three quarters of a lap before he could get going again. From the women we’re nominating Anna Fairweather (Spokes RT) who ended up at the back of the field after a mechanical but chased everyone down except the lead pair…and she came mighty close to catching them too.
Onto the racing and in reverse order we’ll start with the senior men. With the schedule running a little late due to some medical incidents in earlier races the men’s event got underway. From the off Davie Lines (Wheelbase Altura MGD) was doing everything he could to get away. Initially he had a gap with Ryan Fenwick (www.Dooleys-Cycles.co.uk) but this came back only to see him move again. Brought back once more he went again but this time he had Rob Friel (Pro Vision Scotland) for company with Andrew Scorey (GS Metro) alert to the danger and making the junction.
And this became the pattern for the race, the three working well together and nobody behind able, or willing, to organize a chase-down. Different riders tried each time around with the recently crowned road champion Mark Robertson (Army Cycling Race Team) very active but to no avail. Eventually it was former professional Martin Lonie (Clay Cross Road Team) who broke the elastic to those behind but he wasn’t alone, having Ryan Fenwick along with him.
Others tried to go but it was now a race of the lead three followed by two in between and the bunch behind, with the leaders gaining more time all the way home. Lapping the field with one lap to run they could now jockey for position and none of the spectators could really call it. In the end it was Scorey who opened up the sprint with Friel trying desperately to get back on terms and Lines unable to come off the Pro Vision rider’s wheel. Scorey made it look easy but Friel and Lines had made him work for it. With the pair behind, Fenwick had dropped Lonie and made it home alone to take 4th with Lonie in 5th. Just the bunch sprint to go and there was no stopping Robertson as he outsprinted Jordan Doig (Wheelbase Altura MGD).
In the Woman’s race the bunch stayed together for a couple of laps before Joanne Thom (Sandy Wallace Cycles) attempted to get away. She couldn’t do it on her own though as Sarah Walker (EDCO Continental) was stuck to her wheel and pretty soon it was this pair that was forging a lead with the Edinburgh RC rider Helen Wyld caught in the middle, chased by Ellie Park (Team 22) and the fast disintegrating bunch. The surprise was that Anna Fairweather was right down at the back but this must have been down to a mechanical issue as she then set about overhauling everyone on her way to the front.
Park had slipped back to the group with Wyld still riding a lonely race, albeit resplendent in her new unicorn socks. Fairweather had passed everyone up to Wyld and the ERC rider tried to stay with her but there was no holding the Spokes racer. And this provided the excitement for the last few laps as she hunted down the lead pair. They were working well together but Fairweather was inching tantalizingly closer each time around, almost making the junction at one point.
It was not to be however as Walker and Thom had it in hand. Catching the bunch at the final bend Walker took it on and led all the way up the home straight with Thom doing her utmost to get by. On the line it was Walker by 6 inches over Thom with Ellie Park winning the bunch sprint just behind and taking the Junior title into the bargain. In the same straight Fairweather finished just behind to round out the podium places with Wyld crossing the line to secure a good 4th spot.
The previous race had provided some of the best racing in what turned out to be an action packed day. The Junior men were lined up and Spokes RT had come prepared with Stephen Dent, Joe Reilly and Finn Crockett all on the start line. Straight into the race and it was looking like a TTT with only Calum Shackley (Glasgow CT) and Cameron Oliver (Stewartry Wheelers) able to stay with them. That’s perhaps the wrong description as these two were putting in their fair share of the work in making this break stick. Oliver was beginning to lose touch when Crockett had his incident at the chicane. The leaders didn’t know whether to wait or to push on and this allowed Oliver to get back on. By the time Crockett got going he’d lost the best part of a lap but with total determination he set about chasing them down.
The lead four split with Dent and Oliver leaving Reilly and Shackley on the home straight. This was to change again as Dent went off on his own with Oliver teaming up with Reilly who had dropped the Glasgow CT rider. Several laps later it was a brave move by Reilly as he attacked his Stewartry Wheelers companion and set off after his teammate. Making the junction, the two Spokes racers were now more concerned with where their teammate Crockett was. And he was flying! Catching Shackley he took a few laps to recover before setting off in pursuit of Oliver. The leaders had lapped the field but all eyes were on Crockett as he caught Oliver and the rest of the main bunch. Coming up the straight it was a straightforward win for Dent but both teammates celebrated their win as they crossed the line. With the bunch sprinting hard it was Crockett who had moved clear and easily took the win for third spot and the bronze medal. A great ride for Oliver and Shackley but there was no stopping the Spokes trio as they locked out the podium. A fitting end to Dent’s career as a Junior before he signs for his Belgian team for next year.
The Youth A race always produces a spectacular event and this time it would be a race between Alex Dent (Nevis Cycles RT) and Scott Howieson (Glasgow Riderz) for top honours. These two pushed hard from the start and although they never got too much of a gap over the field they were working well and it would come down to a sprint. As the lead pair opened up on the home straight the bunch crashed on the final hairpin and several riders went down. Howieson was leading it out with the slender Dent trying to get around him, cheered on by his older brother from the sidelines. Howieson was putting his track experience to good use however and made the line with a wheel’s advantage over the Fort William rider. Coming out of the carnage it was Speedflex RT’s Oscar Onley who claimed the final podium spot ahead of his teammates Aaron King and Hamish MacLaren.
The previous race had seen the Youth A and Youth B girls racing together and it was the younger riders in the shape of British Crit Champion Eva Young (Pedal Power RT) and Imani Pereira-James (East Kilbride RC) who showed the older girls a faster set of wheels. The Youth A girls took up the running in the shape of Anna Shackley (Glasgow Riderz) and Anna Flynn (Edinburgh RC) but the Youth B girls were content to sit in the wheels and conserve energy.
It came down to the final sprint and Young and Periera-James opened up a blistering sprint for the line as they matched each other all the way home. It was the British Champion that triumphed by a mere six inches but the East Kilbride rider had pushed her all the way. Behind this pair the battle was on for the Youth A title and Flynn looked to have it in the bag but Shackley edged her on the line and became the Scottish Champion in this age category. Iona Moir (Barking and Dagenham CC) rounded out the B podium with Kate Richardson (unattached) taking Bronze in the A podium.
In the Boys Youth B race Daniel Kain and Callum Reid were pushing hard for Speedflex RT but the Edinburgh Road Club are used to racing at Ingliston and know this course well. With Ross Birrell and Alexander Gibb the red of ERC was keeping the Speedflex boys from having it all their own way and although it was a reduced bunch that hit the end of the home straight for the final time, it was all to play for in the last dash to the line. Gibb opened it up with Kain coming onto his wheel and Reid stuck firmly to his. Kain tried to come out of the slipstream of the Edinburgh rider but with a tailwind finish he couldn’t get around and it was an obviously delighted Gibb who took the title from Kain in second and Reid in third.
The final counting category was the Youth C race and boys and girls were in together. Tom Wicklow (Glasgow Riderz) and the Johnstone Jets pairing of Oliver Kelly and Jamie Thomson were pulling the bunch with Anna Reid (Speedflex RT) and Christina McGoram (Peebles CC) mixing it with the boys. Again, it would come to a bunch sprint with Wicklow making it look easy as he outsprinted the field. The Jets pairing fought it out for silver and bronze with Kelly just edging his teammate.
In the girls race Anna Reid finished in the slightly strung out bunch but was well clear of Christina McGorum, both girls finishing ahead of a number of the boys. Katie Galloway from the host club of West Lothian Clarion CC came home for third in the girls race.
All in, a great weekend of racing and with record times at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome the following day, and muddy conditions at Callendar Park CX we move into a new phase of the sport.
‘Cross is here!