It was mud, mud and more mud this weekend - cyclocross was the order of the day - as the SCX Series reached it’s crescendo, whilst Cameron Mason showed his class at World Cup level.
UCI Cyclo-Cross World Cup, Dublin
In just his second cyclocross race of the season, Cameron Mason underlined what a bright future he has with one of the rides of his career across the water in the Irish capital. Having won the National Trophy race in Falkirk in some style back in October, Mason had put in a big training block before returning to competitive action at elite World Cup level, and he looked every bit at home alongside his senior colleagues, having made the step up from U23 last year.
A poor gridding meant he had to work his way through on the opening couple of laps, which he did with some style, catching the lead group as they began lap three, putting him in the hunt for a top ten finish. Ordinarily a fairly flat, heavy-going course such as the one in Dublin wouldn’t be his preferred terrain, but the Linlithgow man looked right at home, a combination of skill and power bringing him home for tenth, less than a minute down on winner Wout Van Aert and in the mix with the best riders in the world.
SCX Finale, Fife College
Fife College remains one of the cornerstones of the Scottish Cyclocross season, and this year it marked the finale of the SCX Series, with overall titles on the line as well as race wins. This much-loved event can often turn into a mud bath, with plenty of running, but the cold snap that is sweeping across the British Isles prevented that this weekend, producing some fantastic battles.
In the Senior Women’s race there was a three-way tussle at the front of proceedings, with Jane Barr, Lotta Mansfield and Natalie Munro doing battle. Velocity 44’s Barr was on a good day, perhaps her best of the season, showing great strength to get the better of talented young University of Stirling rider Mansfield, with Natalie Munro bagging bronze. That result meant Barr also took the series title, a great first season back on the cross field.
In the Senior Men’s race Lewis Martin ended the series on a high with a hard-fought win, slowly pulling out a gap on his nemesis Gary MacDonald to win by over half a minute. MacDonald, who had pipped his young counterpart to the post to take the national title last month, did enough to take the series title, capping a memorable season for the 39-year-old, who just last weekend took bronze at the World Masters Championships. Rounding out the podium was Neil Scott, the Deeside Thistle rider taking second in the series after a consistent season.
Ruan Vorster wrapped up the Junior Men’s title with another winning ride, backing up his efforts at Kinneil X a couple of weeks ago, his third win of the series. It was a similar story in the V40s, Malcolm Bain taking his second win on the bounce to wrap up the overall title.
Innes McDonald of Edinburgh RC completed a perfect season, winning the final round in Fife to make it seven wins from seven, having skipped the Castle Douglas race a few weeks back – what a season! In the female equivalent Deeside’s Arabella Blackburn took the win on the day, but hadn’t completed enough races to be in the mix for the overall, which went the way of Hope Thomson, who edged out Daisy Wilkinson in a great winter long tussle.
Perhaps the best duel of the season came in the V40 Women however, as Madeleine Robinson and Sian Tovey went tooth and nail week after week, the title only decided in the last couple of laps of the final round! Robinson led coming into the race, and so donned the yellow leaders number, but Tovey knew a win, and Robinson finishing any worse than second would see her take the title. Coming into the closing stages that was on the cards, but Robinson had the resolve to fight all the way, moving up to second, behind Tovey, to take the overall series.
A big thank you to all the organisers across the series, the commissaries who made the racing fair and safe, and the SCX committee for getting the series back to it’s very best this season. Roll on 2023!
The SCX series may be complete, but there are still a number of races post-Christmas, notably the Super Quaich series, should you wish to scratch your cyclocross itch.