We didn’t make the Scottish cyclo cross champs, this year; new house for Martin; major drive to accumulate Brownie points for me – those pictures of Big Wendy from Gent make it hard to plead; ‘it was hell out there!’ Anyway, congratulations to new champion, 17 year-old junior, Kenta Gallagher (Scott UK) who took the senior title; we thought the man deserved to be interviewed.

Kenta Gallagher
Kenta kicks back.

Daft question first; your name?

“My mum is Japanese; my sister and I have Japanese Christian names.”

Talk us through the race.

“I knew I had good form going into the race, I had a good ride at Irvine and that gave me confidence. The course suited me; it required lots of power, although I wasn’t sure about all the running.

“I decided to get a gap at the start, so I could ride my own race; but my cassette clogged with mud on lap three and I had to change a wheel — I had to make a big effort to get to the pits as fast as I could.

“Whilst I was in the pits, the chasers caught and passed me, but I had a good wheel change and I managed to get on the back of them. I was still feeling good so I made my move on the run up, it must have been a good one, because I won it!”

Who were your ‘danger men?’

“Craig Hardie (bronze) and Dan Whitehead are the two main ones; but Davie Lines (silver) has been going well in crosses and James Fraser always goes well in the last 30 minutes.”

Kenta Gallagher
Showing great technique. Hammerhead, World Champs 2009.

Which type of course do you like best?

“I prefer technical courses, I’m confident on that type of course due to my mountain biking. I don’t have problems with twisting courses, slippy corners or having to power through the mud.”

Did you try to peak for the race?

“I can’t say that I did; I just ride ‘cross to keep my mind focussed on racing and competition during the winter. I did a turbo session coming into it, to sharpen myself; I did want to win the Junior Champs, but really, I just treated it as another race.”

You’ve been going well in ‘cross this winter, though?

“I rode the one at Plean and was fourth, but I had to change a wheel — I was actually going to give the crosses a miss this winter but Nick Craig from Scott UK asked me if I’d like to ride for them — I’d been riding a borrowed ‘cross bike — and they fixed me up with a really nice machine.

“Once they did that, I thought I should ride the crosses to keep my sponsor happy.

“I broke a rear mech, with all the mud at the Inverkeithing ‘cross, but I won at Irvine.”

Kenta Gallagher
Racing in Paris! The VTT Tour de France.

Will you be riding the British junior ‘cross champs?

“Yes, that’s the next aim; I was seventh last year but didn’t feel too good on the lead up to that race.”

Would you like to try ‘cross in Belgium?

“It’s not something I’m planning — my main focus is on mountain biking.”

Main differences between ‘cross and mountain bike preparation?

“If you’re training for ‘cross, it’s easy to pick up illnesses so I tend not to train specifically for it; I use the turbo and do my usual road work. With the mountain bike, I treat every race as training; I’ll even do turbo sessions coming into them — except the major championships, where I’m trying to get a result.”

You live in Inverness; a wee bit out of the way.

“The travelling is hard going, yes. But the Highland Institute of Sport lets us borrow a car and pays for fuel — that’s a big help.”

Kenta Gallagher
Spot Kenta in his yellow Mavic shoes. Kenta is building great international experience.

Inspirations?

“Liam Killeen is a rider I admire; he was seventh in the Olympics, despite a crash and is the Commonwealth Games mountain bike champion. I’ve ridden mountain bike relay races with him; he’s a nice guy, so laid back but really into his sport.

“David Fletcher is another rider I admire, he rides ‘cross and mountain bike — he was third in the 2007 junior worlds at Fort William.”

The road; last year you said you weren’t that keen.

“I did a bit, this year, I rode the criterium series events at Dumfries and Castle Douglas, where I was fourth, with the elites.

“I enjoy criteriums but road races are a bit too long for me — although, I’m going to ride the British junior road race championship, next year.”

You’re a Braveheart rider.

“Yes; it’s been a great help — enabling me to get to all the British rounds of the mountain bike series.

“Some of the races are in places like Plymouth and South Wales — it’s a long way to drive from Inverness, but Braveheart assistance has meant that I can fly to places like that.”

Kenta Gallagher
Kenta and fellow scot Grant Ferguson. British VTT Champions.

2010?

“I’d like to get top 10’s at junior World Cups; do well in the British junior mountain bike championship and make the mountain bike junior Worlds team for Canada.

“And I’d also like to get on the GB mountain bike academy team at Manchester, there are three places, and I’d like one of them!”

A young man who knows where he’s going — VeloVeritas wishes him well. Thanks to Kenta for the pics.