Time for VeloVeritas to catch up with Scottish, David Rayner funded rider, Stuart Balfour. It's been a year since last we spoke to Stuart so a wee bit to catch up on.
The David Rayner has been helping young riders realise their continental dreams since 1995 with David Millar one of the first to benefit, and Theo Hartley from Bolton in Lancs will be one of the grant recipients in 2018. He'll be joining the Belgian Illi Bikes squad, run by long term Six Day soigneur and track aficionado, Etienne Illegems and his son Ken who was for a time a mechanic with Team Sky but could get round a tough kermis on his good days.
It’s not just the boys which the Rayner Fund supports, the young ladies get their opportunities. Here’s what 19 year-old Miss Henrietta Colborne from the north of England had to tell us...
It was 1971 when I first joined a cycling club; Kirkcaldy & District CC with their red, yellow and black strip. One of the coolest guys in the club was Dave Gardiner, a signwriter to trade so whilst we rode somewhat mundane Mercians, Robertsons, Andy McNeils and Flying Scots his bike would be liveried up in proper red and white Faema trim, a la Merckx, right down to the little Duomo motif on the head tube.
He may be best known as a cross country MTB man but on a course at Hetton Lyons Country Park, Sunderland which included a little of everything, not so far from his Peebles home in the Scottish Borders, 24 year-old Grant Ferguson ran away with the British Elite Cyclo-Cross championships. Beating into second place the man mostly closely associated with the title in recent years, five times champion, Ian Field. The look on Field's face reflected the fact that a British champion's jersey is worth around 1,000 Euros in start money in any big continental 'cross.
John Archibald has ‘done the business’ when it comes to qualifying for the individual pursuit at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia come the spring. But Scotland has another young man chasing qualification for those lung shredding four kilometres, Mr. Kyle Gordon; we had a word with him after his recent adventures in Europe.
We’ve spoken to Dan Bigham more than once this year, he won eight British Championships this year, against the watch and on the track. But there’s more to Bigham and his KGF team than domestic success; they’ve been riding the UCI World Cup series and in December rode international track meetings in Portugal and Switzerland with strong results.
John Archibald has proved to us during season 2017 that he’s the fastest man in the country against the watch with fastest rides ever at 10 and 25 miles in Scotland. With a series of quality four kilometre rides in Portugal and Switzerland, Archibald has proved that he can indeed adapt to the boards, bankings and all that time sitting about waiting...
Shane Sutton is a man who divides opinion; he's either a messianic coach and mentor - or a crude, sexist, bully of a man. For our part he's only ever been polite, friendly and helpful. Given the near hysteria surrounding the mention of the man's name and as part of our 'The First 11 Years of VeloVeritas' series of 'look-backs' we thought you may like to see an interview we did with him after his GB track squad's triumphs in Beijing in 2008.
With all the recent exposure Philippa York has had we recently came upon a mention of a man who trained and raced with York in his days as Robert Millar. Wayne Bennington is the man; he rode for Systeme-U and ‘Z’ – both big players in the day who didn’t dispense contracts to just ‘any’ rider. We spoke to Wayne a year or two ago but this piece has never before run on Velo Veritas, here’s his story.
2006 in Bonnie Scotland we had a lot to cheer about as the late, great Jason Macintyre had a fantastic season, winning the British Circuit TT Championship and the 'Blue Riband,' the British 25 Mile TTl Championship to join the likes of Alf Engers, Sean Yates, Chris Boardman and Graeme Obree on the roll of honour.
If there’s a rider more closely associated with a city than Iljo Keisse is with Gent then I can’t think of it. Born and bred in the capital of East Flanders, raised on the boards of the Blaarmeersen velodrome, the Gentenaars love him and he loves them. Iljo's dad, Ronie Keisse owns the legendary Café de Karper, a favourite student haunt in Gent, just a five minute walk from the Kuipke and the only place to be on a November Sunday evening when the Six Day finishes, so we sat down with Ronie on the Monday morning after the Six to discuss the life and times of his boy, one of the very last real ‘vedettes’ – star Six Day men.
On the track Ollie Wood has been a consistent top performer with national team pursuit and scratch titles to his name as a junior in 2014. In 2015 he again was in the winning team at national level and added the European U23 team pursuit title. Last year he was on the European podium in both the U23 and Elite team pursuit competitions – bronze on both occasions. And this season saw gold in the Manchester World Cup team pursuit. We caught up with the now 22 year-old – his birthday was the week after the Gent Six Day finished – to discuss his 2017 season and his plans for 2018 and beyond.
No appraisal of Scotland’s cycling medal hopes for the 2018 Commonwealth Games would be complete without speaking to multiple Commonwealth, Worlds and Olympic visually impaired tandem champion, Neil Fachie. Here’s what the man had to say to VeloVeritas, recently:
Continuing with our series of interviews with the Scottish riders who we hope will be making the headlines on The Gold Coast in Australia come the spring, we speak to 20 year-old Paisley rider, Jack Carlin who’s rapidly making a name for himself in that shortest but most savage of disciplines, the team sprint.
This 23 year-old is a force of nature and has to be one of our best medal hopes at the Commonwealth Games; she’s been rampant recently in the European Championships and World Cups; Ms. Katie Archibald recently kindly took time to speak to VeloVeritas about her autumn adventures and her future ambitions:
The last time we spoke to 22 year-old Scotsman Mark Stewart he’d just ridden a cracking U23 Road Worlds in Bergen – cue total contrast from big blue skies, solitude, fjords and fresh air to The Kuipke with light about as artificial as you can get, wall to wall people, scary steep boards and the smell of burgers frying ... and Jupiler pils. Mark’s partner for the six nights of Europop and autograph requests was Worlds U23 road race fourth placed man and GB team mate, Ollie Woods. The interview was conducted in the authentic but cramped surroundings of his trackside cabin at the Kuipke.
Yes, Scotland has two Olympic champions on the Commonwealth Games squad for The Gold Coast; Katie Archibald and Callum Skinner. We also have double European U23 champion, Mark Stewart and World Cup gold medallist, Neah Evans. But there’s another name which isn’t so obvious, that of 26 year-old Jonny Wale – born and raised in Scotland, British team pursuit champion and author of a 1:01.1 kilometre. We caught up with Jonny recently to get his story. He’s recovering from a training crash which resulted in a broken collarbone but hasn’t kept him out of the gym or off the turbo – the man wants to get to the Gold Coast, real bad!
It was at the Berlin Six Day a few years ago that we first saw Neah Evans in action on the boards. She’s made a lot of progress since then and the 27 year-old was recently part of the successful GB team pursuit squad at the Manchester World Cup. High times we ‘had a word.’
The Gold Coast Commonwealth Games next year is an interesting proposition for Scotland, with Katie Archibald and Callum Skinner now Olympic champions, Mark Stewart a double under 23 European Champion and Neah Evans on the top step of a World Cup podium - and don't forget 'left fielder' Jonny Wale, reigning British team pursuit champion and 1:01 kilometre man. VeloVeritas spoke to all of them about their 2017 seasons and prospects in Australia come the spring, and we start with Callum Skinner...
In Part One of our interview with Irish rider Aidan Duff we heard about his six years based in Nantes, three of them riding for Jean Rene Bernadeau's top flight Vendee U squad, his experiences riding with Thomas Voeckler in the team, and his wins in the Herald Sun Tour and Tour of Brittany. We continue our chat by asking Aidan why he stopped racing and how he moved into the business side of the game, as well as the unusual methods involved in producing his custom-sized carbon fibre frames and bike builds...
Continuing on our recent Irish theme we caught up with Aidan Duff, former Vendee U professional and now owner of Fifty One Cycles – building bespoke carbon frames. 'Fifty One?' we hear you say... The race number for Merckx, Ocana, Thevenet and Hinault when they won the Tour de France. With tales of Jean Rene Bernadeau, Tommy Voeckler and building custom carbon – not ‘off the peg from Taiwan’ - we cover some interesting ground. Let’s go...
In Part One of our interview with Sandy Gordon, we heard about his horror crash at the 1966 Tour of Austria and missing the Jamaica Commonwealth Games, helping Brian Temple secure a silver medal at the 1970 Commonwealth Games and racing in the Tours of Scotland, Czechoslovakia - and getting banned for racing in South Africa at the Rapport Toer. We continue the chat by finding out more about Sandy's other overseas races and his many domestic successes...
Late June 1972, Loch Lomond and history is made as Sandy’s Gilchrist and Gordon tie for the Scottish ‘50’ mile time trial title with 2:01:46 whilst Ron Gardner is third with 2:05:15. My part in this historic day on the old road which tracked every curve and bump of those bonnie, bonnie but tough banks? I was caught by both winners on my way to some ignominious time which I now no longer remember but which would have been closer to 20 mph than 25 mph...
Pro Vision’s David Griffiths successfully defended his Scottish Hill Climb Championship on the tough Stow climb recently – VeloVeritas caught up with the bearded winner not long after his success to ‘have a word.’
The 12 day, 13 stage British ‘Milk Race’ of 1992 was a pro-am affair with Belgian hard men Collstrop – who won four stages including the opening TTT; talented home pros from Banana-Met; the Danish National squad; the Belgian National team; a squad form CIS, the Commonwealth of Independent States – formerly the Soviet Union and the Netherlands National team to name but seven. And a team from Ireland; but no one expected 21 year-old Conor Henry from Belfast to defy some of the best riders in Europe to take final victory. Here’s his story...
We pick up our chat with John Mangan after discussing his 'adventure' at the Munich Olympics which involved hiding in the woods, the riders he respected most, how most of his 156 wins came through pure power, and of course, why the 'Rider Mafia' simply had to let him in.
John Mangan won 156 continental races not to mention a raft of races in his native Ireland before he headed for France and huge success. Such was his strength both on and of the bike that for a decade he was head of the ‘Brittany Mafia’, the group of riders which controlled racing in the West France racing Heartland. He would tell me; ‘I think that in all the years I was there we only let two wins slip away from us.’
It’s 30 years since Stephen Roche’s historic ‘treble’ of Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and World Professional Road race Championship. But who was Roche’s mentor? A fellow Dubliner called Peter Crinnion is the man. Crinnion wasn’t of the current generation of watts/turbo trainer coaches with a college background. He’d walked the walk, having ridden many of the races Roche would compete in, almost 30 years earlier...
It was the Giro made Austin Walsh do it. Do what? Invest so much time and money into his collection of cycling memorabilia which now threatens to overwhelm his bike shop, Quay Cycles. The Italian race started on the Emerald Isle in 2014 and Austin was so smitten by ‘The Pink Race’ that he decided to turn the bike shop which he’s run since 1995 into a bike racing shrine...
If you’re a VeloVeritas regular then you’ll have seen our interview with Flavio Zappi, the man who transforms promising U23 riders into World Tour performers. Will Scot, Callum Johnston be pulling on a QuickStep jersey in a year or three?
The U23 Worlds in Bergen; a great race with a great finale with GB well there – Ollie Wood in fourth and our very own Mark Stewart a key part of the team which got Wood into a position to sprint for the bronze medal. We just had to ‘have a word’ with Scotland’s own double European track champion, Mr. Mark Stewart...
‘You need to talk that Flavio Zappi boy, his lads are racing all over Europe and getting good results!’ As often happens with VeloVeritas it’s our spiritual guide and fiercest critic, Viktor who gives us inspiration on who we should be speaking to. But there’s also the aspect that QuickStep new recruit James Knox, who we interviewed earlier in the year was a ‘Zappi Man’ so yes, times we had a word with Sen. Zappi.
Here at VeloVeritas we try to keep abreast of what’s going on across in Europe, one result which caught our recently eye was young Mark Donovan winning the Aubel-Thimister-La Gleize junior stage race in Belgium. Never an easy thing to do against all those would-be GVA’s. Best ‘have a word.’
A long time ago, Dave, Victor, Ivan and I raced in Brittany; when we saw this young gentleman had two wins on roads we remember from our youth we just had to have a word. Like many of our interviewees - they are helping almost 40 young riders this year - Louis Modell is a beneficiary of assistance from the fabulous Dave Rayner fund.
The last time we spoke to Dan Bigham (Brother NRG Wattshop) there was just a chance that he’d have to line up for the hill climb championship to net a record breaking EIGHTH British title of the year - to go with the kilometre, pursuit, team pursuit, team time trial, CTT 25 mile title, CTT 50 mile title and CTT circuit time trial title. But on the tough Cockermouth 10 mile time trial course, the day was saved when the CTT ‘10’ championship went his way too – so that’s title number eight!
The last few weeks we’ve been catching up with the young men who are out there in the Heartlands across Europe ‘doing it’ – Brittany, Lombardy and of course, Flanders. Englishman Ross Lamb – another man supported by the stalwart David Rayner Fund – has been notching up the results in the Flatlands: 4th in Heusden-Zolder, 2nd at Pulderbos, 2nd at Booischot, 3rd in the Memorial Vanconinsloo, 3rd at Huldenberg, 2nd at Geetbeets and 2nd in Linden Lubbeek.
If you’re like us, you thought the Scottish Road Race Championships at Kennoway in Fife over much of the old Dave Campbell Memorial Race parcours would be pretty much a formality for ‘10’ and ‘25’ mile time trial Champion, John Archibald (Pro Vision). The best view from the podium went to Mark Robertson (Army CC); the man who’s based in the north east of England beat Fraser Martin (Raleigh) into silver and aforementioned John Archibald into bronze. Best ‘have a word’ with Mr. Robertson we decided...
It’s hard to believe that since I started cycling in 1971 nearly four minutes have been hacked off the Scottish 10 mile time trial record; when I started it stood at 22 minutes and 14 seconds: 1971 P.Templeton (Dundee Thistle R.C.) 22 mins 14 secs. It now stands at 18 minutes and 38 seconds thanks to that man John Archibald (Pro Vision) - a time he achieved this morning on the fast dual carriageway tarmac beside the River Clyde at Westferry.
It was back in July when we first heard about 21 year-old George Woods (Richardson’s Trek Racing Team) ‘doing the business’ in Belgium, we ‘had a word’ with him but with all that Tour carry-on we didn’t get round to writing the interview up. Then the other week we saw he was in the frame again, winning a 114 kilometre kermis at Deinze. High times we gave ourselves a shake and got the piece published!
What’s the best thing an aspiring world class athlete can do? Pick their parents carefully, of course. The hottest U23 property in the world right now, Pavel Sivakov did that very thing; dad Alexei was a pro for 10 years with Roslotto, BigMat, CCC and Auber 93. As an amateur he won the Tour of Serbia and as a pro the Circuito Montanes; he rode the Vuelta and three Tours de France.
It’s not a lot of time is 12 seconds; around 250 metres at the speeds they go at these days; but that’s what separated Scottish 25 Mile Time Trial Champion, John Archibald from the podium of the CTT National 25 mile championship in Wales on Sunday. That had to be the first question VeloVeritas asked; "Could you have found those seconds, John?"
We’re proud of our record here at VeloVeritas; we’ve interviewed every British 25 mile time trial champion since 2005. Michael Hutchinson, Jason MacIntyre (rest in peace), Joe Perrett, Matt Bottrrill, Ryan Perry - and this year is no exception with Dan Bigham (Brother NRG Wattshop) taking time to chat to us about his seventh British title of the year [adding to CTT ‘50,’ CTT Circuit TT, TTT, kilometre, individual pursuit and team pursuit] and his ambitions for the future.
Italy’s Bassano-Monte Grappa U23 Classic has been around since 1930 and lists Italian Legend, Gino Bartali as a winner in 1934; with Leonardo Piepoli, Giro winners Ivan Gotti, Gilberto Simoni and Damiano Cunego, not to mention Fabio Aru all on the more recent role of honour. It’s a beast of race, flat then rearing up the feared Monte Grappa climb – of Giro fame - to finish at over 1700 metres.
Le Tour, it’s so big that we tend to forget that there’s a lot more to cycling than Froomey breaking a spoke and Louis Meintjes, Simon Yates and Rigoberto Uran getting towed around France. Races like the Under 23 European Track Championships in Sangalhos-Anadia in Portugal where Scotland’s Mark Stewart grabbed not one but two titles – the individual pursuit and omnium.
If you’re a sad old tester like me you’ll remember that wonderful day back in 1978 when ‘King’ Alf Engers discovered the Holy Grail – it took 49 minutes and 24 seconds. The first 30 mph 25 mile time trial. Hard to imagine that Alf’s time would only have given him joint 21st position in the Lea Valley CC ‘25’ on the E2/25 a couple of weeks ago – some four minutes behind the winner, John Dewey of Team Bottrill/HSS Hire.
After his win in the British Time Trial Championship, here’s what Dimension Data’s Steve Cummings told us when we asked him about his chances in the British Road Race Championship: "I’m not at 100% so don’t believe I have the condition to win the road race – it’ll be perhaps another 10 days before I come into my best shape." Despite that, two days later he was topping his second Isle of Man podium as British Elite Time Trial and Road Race Champion.
Steve Cummings, he’s the real deal. Dues fully paid at low budget Landbouwkrediet and Barloworld, he’s also ridden with some of the biggest teams in the sport; Discovery, Sky and BMC - before finding what is the ideal squad for him, Dimension Data where letting him ‘do his own thing’ has paid off for both parties in spades.
Biggest news of the weekend? Spilak wins overall in Suisse - and the Russian team takes the GC at ZLM too with Goncalves; Dillier wins the Route du Sud for BMC or Cav shows form in Slovenia to get the Dimension Data management team off the Valliums? Nope - Richard Bideau. Adam Duggleby’s (Vive le Velo) 3:16:51 to break the British 100 mile time trial record on the e2/100, Newmarket course is the ride which has tongues wagging on this side of the Channel and North Sea. Peter Harrison (AS Test Team) 3:18:58 was also inside the old mark; as was the man we interviewed two years ago when we all thought he’d nabbed the record with his 3:18:54, reigning BBAR Richard Bideau – until the course was re-measured and found to be ‘short’ by 0.2 miles. We caught up with Bideau two days after his ride...
It was a great World Track Championships for Scotland with Katie Archibald coming home from Hong Kong as World Omnium Champion. But not such a great Championships for Dundee’s Mark Stewart who was competing in the team pursuit and madison. Unfortunately GB missed out on the bronze medal in the team pursuit to Italy whilst Mark and partner Ollie Wood were DNF in the madison. We caught up with the AN Post professional a week or so after the Worlds, back in his Italian base...