It was a day for the sprinters as the 2021 Scottish National Senior Criterium & Youth Road Race Championships titles were decided at the Fife Cycle Park on Sunday 8 August.
The Senior and Junior women saw the very best of the weather as the early downpours subsided and the sun made an appearance, just in time for theirs, the penultimate race.
A few laps in and a foursome went off the front comprising Beth MacIver (Torvelo Racing), Heather Elder (Forth Velo), Kate Richardson and Morven Yeoman (Tofauti Everyone Active), the latter of whom contesting the junior women’s category.
This quartet forged ahead and it soon became apparent that the winner would come from this group as they only extended their lead as the race moved towards the final few laps. Actually, two winners came from this foursome as Yeoman, who wound up fourth in the dash for the line, came home over half a minute up on her nearest junior competitor.
Leading the charge for the line, and upgrading her silver from the Scottish National Road Race Championships last month, was MacIver who led the sprint out to impressively hold off Elder and Richardson to take glory.
A delighted MacIver said afterwards:
“It was good fun! For the first 10 minutes or so the bunch were just rolling round, so I decided to put an attack in on the backstraight – it’s a slight uphill, so a good place to go. I managed to get clear and bring three girls with me – it’s always good to have company and we worked well together and just kept putting time into the bunch behind and in the end we all got a result out of it.”
On her chances in a bunch kick she added:
“I knew how long I could go for, and I was leading it out, so I just put my head down and went all the way to the line.”
Claiming the final podium spots in the junior race, it was a close finish between Rebecca Saunderson (Studio Velo) and Elena McGorum (Peebles CC) with the Castle Douglas rider finishing just ahead as they crossed the line. It was certainly a successful trip to Fife for the riders from Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders.
In the men’s race it was another powerful sprint that decided the title in the favour of newcomer Jamie MacKenzie (META Bike Division), just a wheel separating him from his podium contemparies Ciaran McSherry (Edinburgh RC) and Corin Halliday (Torvelo Racing), who took silver and bronze respectively.
Unlike the women’s race, no one could seemingly seize any kind of advantage, and with the field well matched it always seemed destined to come down to a sprint, as no rider ever gained an advantage that went into double digits on the stopwatch.
While the watching officials and spectators couldn’t really perceive much of a breeze, for the riders on the long uphill back straight it was just enough to neutralize any moves, and with the Torvelo Racing team watching and pouncing on everything, the bunch stayed together. With around 10 laps to go the heavens opened once more, meaning it would be a wet and at times dicey final 15 minutes of racing, and whilst a couple of riders did pay the grass a quick visit, everyone thankfully stayed upright throughout.
Up stepped MacKenzie at this point, charging down the finishing straight as he timed his sprint to perfection, only getting his nose in front inside the final five metres. Another delighted winner, he commented afterwards:
“I honestly cannot believe it! It’s pretty much a year to do the day since being coached by Jimmy Mac [James McCallum], my first year of cycling and my first year of racing; so to come from cat four, to cat three, cat two and now to win today, I’m just beyond words.
“I’ve got my family here supporting me today and hopefully there is plenty more to come. It’s meant to be the Scottish summer but I think we had all seasons today, but this makes all the cold mornings in the garage on the turbo over the winter worth it.”
Of the circuit, he added:
“It’s fantastic – I’ve raced here a lot through the Spokes Summer Series and I think knowing the track definitely helped, especially in the last 800m – I managed to come from about 12th and nab the win on the line!”
At this point it was giving a huge shoutout to Spokes Racing Team, who have played a huge role in the #returntoracing this year – without them and the officials and volunteers on the day, this championship would not have happened.
The Youth A and B categories are often the most animated and today was no different as the British National jersey on the back of Calum Moir (Welwyn Wheelers CC) flashed around the circuit. Again, breaks came and went, but eventually another foursome took to the head of the field with Moir joined by Elliot Rowe (Deeside Thistle), Lanark Race Team’s Corey Whiteford and Cormac McConville of East Kilbride Road Club.
Another top sprint saw Moir cover his British jersey with a Scottish jersey on the podium, as he finished just ahead of Rowe and Whiteford, McConville just losing contact on the final run-in.
The Girl’s Youth A and B races were run together and Deeside Thistle had come prepared, with seven riders across the two categories. The leading Youth B riders, including another British champion, Arabella Blackburn (Deeside Thistle CC), made up the 30 second gap to the front of the Youth A race, with that group ultimately coming to the line together in a battle royale for the six medals on offer.
First across the line in an extremely tight finish was Erin Boothman (East Kilbride RC), who edged out Blackburn for the Youth B title - Niamh Waters (Edinburgh RC) claimed bronze. In the Youth A race it was a Deeside one-two, with Evie White pulling on the stripes, ahead of Molly Evans and Emily Carrick-Anderson (T-Mo Racing).
In the Youth B Boys contest half the field was still together as they came to the end of their half-hour race, but this time the first two spots were filled by Edinburgh RC riders with James Sweeney edging Struan Shaw for the victory, and Jakob Hill (Clifton CC) getting the bronze. The final championship category of the day was the Youth C Boys and Girls, which ran together over a hard-fought 20 minutes, the young riders not deterred by the foul weahter. With the outcome once again coming down to a sprint, the boys and girls flashed over the line - keen eyes of the timekeepers and the finish-line camera were required to confirm the placings.
The girls’ win went to Melanie Rowe (Deeside Thistle CC) from Eve Fairbairn (Discovery Juniors CC) and Millie Boothman (East Kilbride RC), whilst the boys’ race saw Fraser Gemmell triumph ahead of Edinburgh RC duo of Xander Graham and Aidan Ryder.