Anna Flynn and Charles Fletcher both led from the front in their races to win the 2021 Scottish National Cyclocross Championship in front of a large crowd at Dundee’s Camperdown Country Park.
The organisers, Keith Stocker and Martin Harris, had done a fantastic job in getting this relatively new venue ready for such a prestigious event, with various amenities and live commentary to enhance the spectator experience.
Although it had rained previously, the course drained remarkably well and there were challenges throughout the 2.4km former golf course. Long straights, grassy uphills, off-camber muddy descents, narrow, rooty sections through the trees and two big sand traps to catch the weary. Riders also faced a dreaded “Spiral of Doom” followed by a bunker in the final 300m of each lap – which left the racing finely poised and hard to predict.
With so many women entrants it was great to have a separate race and Anna Flynn (Edinburgh Road Club) set about building a lead from the start. She was chased by Isla Short (Orbea Factory Racing) and Elena McGorum (Peebles CC) but they could do little to hold back the flying Flynn as she increased her lead on every lap.
Crossing the line alone it was another 44 seconds before Isla Short came home in second place, having distanced Elena McGorum on the run in.
In the Junior women’s category, Emily Carrick-Anderson (T-Mo Racing) spent the entire race battling it out with her senior rival Joanne Thom (Ronde Works Racing). And to prove the point she finished one second ahead of the senior rider and claimed the Junior title. Christina McGorum (Una Forza Racing) was down by a couple of minutes but finished in second place to add another medal to the McGorum haul. Beatrix Kiehlmann (Falcons CC Bishopbriggs) rounded out the junior podium.
An impressive performance from Caroline Harvey (Peebles CC) saw her take the win in the V50 category ahead of the Torvelo Racing pairing of Louise Potter and Fiona Cockburn. The final category in the women’s race was the V40 and the win went to Sian Tovey (Dooleys Cycles) half a minute up on Helen Gorman (Stirling BC) with Laura Lawson (Velobants CC) in third spot, having travelled from the south of England to take part.
In the fiercely contested Men’s V40 it was a rampant David Lines (Wheelbase Cabtech Castelli) who came from the back of the grid to take victory overall. A strong start meant it only took a couple of laps before he was at the head of affairs and fought the rest of the race with Chris Buchan, eventually claiming victory by a mere five seconds. Malcolm Bain, coming back to racing, was a fine third.
Joining the V40 men on course were the Junior men and this quickly became a two-horse race. Reuben Oakley (Edinburgh RC) and Finlay Taylor (Royal Albert CC) would swap places throughout the 40-minute race but it was on the final run-in where the Edinburgh rider just managed to stretch away and claim the title by a mere five seconds. The bronze medal was taken by Finn Mason (The Cycling Academy) just 44 seconds after the winning duo.
All too soon, the former V40 riders become the V50 contenders, but the racing is just as fierce as ever in this category. Echoing Anna Flynn’s style, Murray Swanson (Livingston CC) stretched away from the start and it was only Gary McCrae (Leslie Bike Shop-Bikers Boutique) who could attempt to keep him from gaining too much of a lead. With Swanson out front, and McCrae chasing, the first four were all spread out, Barry McGuire (Leslie Bike Shop) and Franco Porco (Forth Valley CC) next, it led to a tight finish, but Swanson held on to claim victory.
In the V60 race, there was no stopping the racing machine that is Brendan Roe (Dunfermline CC) as he once again claimed the win and another title. Finishing 1:36 in arrears was Bill Young (META Bike Division) with Alistair Dow bringing yet another medal back to Peebles in third.
And then it was onto the Senior Men’s race. This would be a battle of groups with a lead quartet being chased by another smaller group and some riders stretched in between.
Very quickly the lead group was formed with Gary McDonald (Nevis Cycles), Lewis Martin (Studio Velo), Alex Ball (Vanelli-Project Go) and Charles Fletcher. This group would fight it out for most of the race with the chasing riders of Pete Matthews (Clancy Briggs Cycling Academy) and David Duggan (Wheelbase) in pursuit.
Four would become three as Lewis Martin was the first to lose contact and then Alex Ball eventually lost the wheel of the lead pair on the penultimate lap. The final lap saw Charles Fletcher ride away from his breakaway partner McDonald to claim the gold medal. Alex Ball held on for third overall as a marauding Pete Matthews narrowly missed out on making the catch.
As the best U23, like Flynn in the Women’s Event, Alex Ball was presented the Craig Hardie Trophy, in memory of one of Scotland’s finest riders. This unique trophy was the chainset used by Craig in his last competitive event.
The Youth A Boys event was taken in another impressive performance by Elliot Rowe (Deeside Thistle) from Innes McDonald (Edinburgh RC) with Milo McDonald (Peebles CC) in third.
In the Youth A Girls race it was another tight affair with the Lanarkshire teams holding off the might of Deeside Thistle. Erin Boothman (East Kilbride RC) finished just two seconds ahead of the Royal Albert CC rider Daisy Taylor, before a quartet of Deeside riders filled the next four places, Arabella Blackburn just 22 seconds behind the lead pair to take bronze.
A fabulous day’s racing with full credit going to the organisers for putting on such a spectacular event in difficult times.