Janet Birkmyre won’t be a new name to you if you follow Masters racing; the woman has won on a prolific scale but not just as a Master, at UK Elite level too. Here’s her tale...
The British Hill Climb Championships is as close as you’ll get to a continental race atmosphere in the UK – Grand Tour visits apart – with this year’s joust with Sir Isaac Newton’s discovery taking place on Pea Royd Lane, Stocksbridge near Sheffield in South Yorkshire in front of a large, exuberant gallery. This year’s edition fell to 33 year-old solicitor from Bath, Andrew Feather (BCR Racing); this was his 12th hill climb win this year off 15 starts so it’s fair to say his championship win double underlined his status as Britain’s number one anti-gravity specialist of the moment.
Our first question to Grant Ferguson, perhaps better known for his mountain bike and cyclo-cross (he’s reigning British Elite Cyclo-Cross champion, don’t forget) adventures, following his win in this year's Scottish Hill Climb championships was "did you have a back brake this time, Grant?"
The other day we were congratulating ourselves on the fact that we’d spoken to every CTT competition record holder from 10 miles to 12 hours, including Stuart Travis’s recent blitzing of the ‘30’ record. However, we were reminded that all of those were men’s records and we should pay attention to the ladies. Enter Ms. Alice Lethbridge, competition record holder at 15 miles, 100 miles and 12 hours – not to mention a member of the record breaking teams at 15, 25, 50 and 100 miles.
It was back in May 2015 when Jim Cusick told us about the professional jockey who was riding time trials. Since then Wilson Renwick has swapped equine saddles for the narrower models you find on time trial bikes, winning the Scottish 'Olympic' Time Trial Championship back in the spring of this year and has just added the classic Tour of the Trossachs to his palmares. We caught up with him the day after his epic ride on what was the toughest day most can remember for the event.
The 30 Mile TT Record was held by Michael (Doctor Hutch) Hutchison with 55:39 but was smashed recently in the Leo Road Club event by Stuart Travis, with 53:44. The record actually fell before the Team Bottrill man finished with Gary Chambers (NOPINZ) clocking 55:09 before Travis depth charged that with his 53 minute ride. Travis also led his team to a new team record by a remarkable 10 minutes. Here’s what Mr. Travis had to say to VeloVeritas a day or two after he put his name on the same page in the CTT record book as some of the greatest short distance time trial riders the sport has ever known.
When friends of VeloVeritas Dave and Vik – both devotees of Belgian palmarès websites tell me there’s a young British guy I should be speaking to then I take notice! Scott Auld is the man, with an ever-growing list of podium finishes in the Flatlands. We caught up with him recently...
Maurice Laing won the Scottish school boy road race and time trial championships, made the podium of the junior and senior road race championships; won the Davie Bell, Sam Robinson and Trophy Pernod; rode the Milk Race and performed with distinction in France.
He’s a versatile man that Michael Mørkøv; world champion on the track, Grand Tour stage winner, Cobbled Classics breakaway specialist, Six Day vedette, Danish Elite Road Race Champion, Classic podium finisher – and now arguably the best lead-out man in the business; right hand man to the man with the most successes this year, QuickStep’s rapid Italian Elite Road Race Champion, Elia Viviani, with 17 winner’s bouquets in 2018.
That Kyle Gordon character is threatening to take over our website; what with his Commonwealth Games adventures, ‘25’ championship win, ‘50’ championship win and competition record - and if that wasn’t enough he’s gone and won the ‘100’ championship too, taking 10 minutes off competition record with a dazzling 3:36:10 ride - some 16 minutes clear of silver medallist, Stephen Williamson.
Up there on the list of ‘cult’ races is the GP Plouay, now known as the Bretagne Classic Ouest France; not a race that’s high in the cycling public’s consciousness outside of Brittany but always hard fought on a tough parcours by a quality field since 1931. This year the winner was Belgian hard man Oliver Naesen (AG2R) who shrugged off the rain and took the laurels. The supporting u23 race is one of the most prestigious in France and the 2018 edition fell to 21 year-old Scotsman, Stuart Balfour who rides for Cotes d’Armor-Marie Morin-Veranda Rideau. It’s not long since VeloVeritas last spoke to Stuart but the man is making it difficult for us to ignore him; he’s certainly making the most of his David Rayner Fund scholarship which helps young British riders abroad realise their dreams.
Ashton Lambie recently slashed three seconds off Jack Bobridge’s Pursuit World Record at Aguascalientes on 31st August of this year in the Pan Am Championships with 4:07:251. His progression is an interesting one – from ‘ultra distance’ to gravel racing to grass track and now, the fastest track endurance rider in history. Here is his tale...
In the car on the way down to Irvine on Sunday morning it never occurred to VeloVeritas editor Martin and I that we’d soon be witnessing anything other than Marcin Bialoblocki (NOPINZ) making it a clean sweep of RTTC titles from 10 to 100 miles. Not for the first time, we got it wrong. Commonwealth Games pursuit silver medallist, John Archibald (Ribble Pro Cycling) relegated the big Polish power house to second place by three seconds with a sparking 18:18 – Big Marcin looked a tad stunned when the news broke that we had a Scottish winner of a British title on Scottish roads.
VeloVeritas is sitting down at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome with Mr. McGhee to apologise for pillaging the chicken in 1972 and to reminisce about his career, which included three National Road Race Championships, over a coffee.
VeloVeritas caught up with Harry Tanfield a few days after his move to the Swiss/Russian squadra Katusha hit the browsers. The thing about a Harry interview is that no matter how big the result he never gets too excited - and signing with a World Tour team for two seasons doesn’t seem such a big deal for the 23 year-old from Great Ayton in north east England.
Here at VeloVeritas we pride ourselves on always getting ‘a word’ with the new British 25 Mile Time Trial Champion; the late, great Jason Macintyre, Michael Hutchinson, Joe Perret, Matt Bottril, Ryan Perry, Dan Bigham have all taken time to speak to us. In joint silver medal slot at the recent British 25 Mile Time Trial Championships was Chris Bartley (AS Test Team), former World Rowing Champion and Olympic silver medallist.
Here at VeloVeritas we like to keep abreast of those competition records, down south and up here in Bonnie Scotland, for example the CTT British 50 mile time trial record, recently broken; how does 50 miles in 90 minutes sound? That’s the ride big Polish ‘chronoman’ Marcin Bialoblocki (NOPINZ) produced: 1:30:31.
The last time we spoke to Callum Johnston he’d just completed his first season in Italy under the tutelage of that colourful gentleman, Flavio Zappi. This year Callum has stepped up a level on squadra Zappi and was Scotland’s sole representative in the ‘Baby’ Giro d’Italia – a race which boasts on it’s role of honour names like Carlos Betancur, Danilo Di Luca, Gilberto Simoni and Marco Pantani. We caught up with Callum after his ride to get the insider story of what is, along with the Tour de L’Avenir, the biggest u23 stage race in the world.
That Kyle Gordon (RT23) fella marches on; selection for the Commonwealth Games, solid performances on the Gold Coast, the Scottish 25 mile title, a close encounter with the Scottish 10 mile record – and now the Scottish 50 title in a Scottish record 1:41:16, taking 1:48 off the legend that is Graeme Obree’s time and 6:14 off his own personal best. VeloVeritas just had to ‘have a word’ . . .
When I was a younger man my 'Mr Motivator' was a certain man from the West; Willie Gibb. I recall battering myself on a training ride alone thinking "Willie Gibb would be going faster" invariably in the races he was and I have no recollection of ever having beaten my one time motivator. I got in touch with Willie to find out more about his story and as it transpired find his palmarès was something else again...
Sprinter stages - they almost have you feeling sorry for Carlton. When we settled down in our mini-market/café with it's big screen and fridge full of cool beer we were quite prepared to sit and wait on Kittel obliterating everyone again after the usual boring run-in. But Big Bora Pole, Maciej Bodnar, AKA 'The Bison' - in his Cannondale days he had a great Polish bison air brush job on his top tube - had other ideas; jumping his doomed breakaway companions and heading off on a solo epic which only ended in sight of the line...
Here at VeloVeritas we still get excited about competition records so it’s only proper then that we should ‘have a word’ with 33 year-old Adam Duggleby (Vive le Velo), who recently in the Farnborough & Camberley CC National 12 Hour Championship in Hampshire recorded 322 miles (the official distance not yet available), adding around four miles to Andy Wilkinson’s (Port Sunlight Wheelers) 2012 record of 317.97.
VeloVeritas has spoken to Michael Broadwith in the past, when he won the national 24 hour championship in 2015 with a monstrous 537 miles. This time the distance was even more extreme: 844 miles, the distance between Lands End and John O’Groats, which he covered at an average speed of 19.438 mph. I try to be sparing with the superlatives but that is truly an amazing performance. Michael kindly gave of his time to us just a few days after his gargantuan ride.
Now that Cycling Weekly isn't the 'weekly bible' of the sport it once was for most of us, it may have passed you by that British competition record for 50 miles has fallen to Paul Hart (Southend Wheelers) with a stunning 1:34:37 earlier in May on the e2 50 c course in Cambridgeshire. Hart eclipsed Matt Bottrill's 2014 time of 1:34:43 by six seconds.
VeloVeritas first got to know Neah Evans (Storey Racing Team & Scotland) at the Berlin Six Day, a year or two ago, since then she’s built an impressive track palmarès with success at national, UCI and Commonwealth levels. And now she’s added Britain’s toughest road event to her roll of honour; the CiCLE Classic at Melton Mowbray, also known as ‘The Rutland’.
If you ask Italian riders which one race they'd want to win above all others, nine times out of 10; Milan-Sanremo; for Belgian guys it's De Ronde, 19 times out of 20, but that man Kyle Gordon is making his own dreams come true; a ride in the Commonwealth Games and now, the 'Blue Riband,' joining Billy Bilsland, Sandy Gilchrist, Graeme Obree and Jason Macintyre's names on the roll of honour as winners of the '25' Champs and breaking through the magical 50 minute barrier in the process.
We spoke to Scotland’s Stuart Balfour at the start of the season but word has been trickling back that 21 years-old from Heriot who is a Rayner Fund rider with Cotes d'Armor-Marie Morin Veranda Rideau, ‘en France’ has been ‘doing the biz.’ Best have another word, we thought to ourselves...
That man John Archibald is back in action again – and with a 48 minutes and 13 seconds ‘BANG !’ down on the Westferry course in the CTT ‘25’ Champs on Sunday past. It gave us a good excuse to catch up with the Commonwealth Games individual pursuit silver medallist and see what he’s been up to since The Gold Coast and what’s next on the agenda for him?
Scotland’s Mark Stewart may have thwarted Cameron Meyer’s plan to take home a gold medal from the velodrome but the slim Aussie bounced back to take the individual time trial title on a hot day around the testing 37.8 kilometre circuit at Currumbin Beachfront. Taking silver was one of the remarkable brothers, 23 year-old Harry Tanfield, who finished 30 seconds behind the flying Meyer but two seconds ahead of Kiwi rower turned time tester, Hamish Bond.
Dreams can come true. Ask Highlander Kyle Gordon. When we spoke to him last December, he'd turned in some nifty performances on the track over the winter - his dream was to make it to The Games. And he did...
Another sprint silver medal for Scottish track star, Jack Carlin. The man is making a habit of it. In the Worlds it was to big Australian power house Matt Glaetzer; this time, at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, it was to crafty Kiwi Sam Webster.
VeloVeritas didn’t make it up to the Scottish 10 Mile Time Trial Championship at Alness. ‘No problem,’ thinks me, ‘I’ll get an interview with the winner; if John Archibald hasn’t recovered from his crash and doesn’t ride it’ll be David Griffiths or maybe Chris Smart?’ Not for the first time, I got it wrong. Liam Beaty? Is that the Hawick lad whom was second on the hill climb, last year?
When the big Pole Marcin Bialoblocki lined up at the start of the fast A465 dual carriageway for the Welsh 25-Mile Championships near Rhigos he was a man with a point to prove. It took him just 42 minutes and 58 seconds, as the 34 year-old, originally from Sokolka rewrote the record book, with a winning margin of four-and-a-half minutes.
In 2017 he won eight British titles; with his KGF team he’s put together the most effective independent UCI Track World Cup squad there is and when Cycling Weekly want to speak to an ‘aero expert,’ he’s the man they go to. Dan Bigham has been a regular on VeloVeritas these last two years and we were pleased to see his selection for the Commonwealth Games.
It’s two years since Jim Cusick first tipped VeloVeritas off on the fact that there was a top jumps jockey riding bike races in Scotland. Wilson Renwick (RT 23) was the man and in the recent Tour of the Meldons the 37 year-old originally from Hawick but now based in the Highlands won his first Scottish title, the ‘Olympic Time Trial.’ It was his first Scottish medal in only his third Scottish Championship ride; previously he had ridden the ’10’ champs at Bishopton and also contested the ‘Olympic’ TT on one previous occasion.
There’s a new kid on the Team Pursuit block, 17 year-old winner of three national championships in 2017, author of a 1:02 kilometre and in the Welsh team which twice recorded 4:01 rides in the recent Commonwealth Games, Mr. Ethan Vernon - another man to benefit from riding with Dan Bigham’s KGF track squadra. Here’s what he had to say to us just the other day...
Continuing with our series of interviews with Scotland’s Commonwealth Games cycling medallists, VeloVeritas chats to Neah Evans who returned from the Gold Coast with two medals from the points and scratch races, despite illness prior to The Games. Although she prepared specifically for the track events she also rode the individual road time trial and road race. Despite this she brought home two top 10 finishes.
VeloVeritas has already spoken to brother John about his men’s individual pursuit silver medal and now it’s time to hear what sister Katie has to say about her Games campaign where there was women’s individual pursuit gold in a Games record, points race silver behind Wales’ Elinor Barker and rides in the women’s scratch – where she finished fourth behind Amy Cure of Australia – and on the road in time trial and road race.
‘The best Commonwealth Games performance ever by the Scottish cycling team’ – that’s for sure. VeloVeritas hopes to speak to all of the athletes concerned and we’re proud to start with individual pursuit silver medallist, John Archibald.
You ride your first race in March 2015 and by 2017 you’ve won the U23 Gent-Wevelgem. Promising? Yes, that’s what we thought. Jacob Hennessy is only 21 years-old and has left the shelter of the British Cycling plans and programmes for the rough and tumble of the Continental Teams and the UCi Asia Tour. Mitchelton-BikeExchange is his home for season 2018.
‘Jake Stewart, Great Britain?’ Second in the u23 Gent-Wevelgem and third in the Trofeo Piva in Italy, strong results – but we know that name... Ah! Yes, he and Fred Wright won the Berlin Six u23 race in 2017 and VeloVeritas was their official photographer for the day best have a word with the man...
Quickstep's win total for the year now stands at 24 with the victories not just down to one man but spread across the team – remarkable. How do they do it? To find out, we got in touch with our old friend and key leadout man in the QuickStep machine, Michael Mørkøv - who was instrumental in Jakobsen’s most recent triumph and similarly ‘pilot fished’ Hodeg to a stage win in the Tour of Catalonia – to get ‘the word’ from the horse’s mouth.
VeloVeritas has spoken to Katie Archibald and Jack Carlin - but our review of Scottish medallists at The Track Worlds in Apeldoorn wouldn’t be complete without speaking to Mr. Mark Stewart, bronze medal winner in the points race behind that remarkable Aussie, Cameron Meyer who took his fifth points title with big Dutchman, Van Schip taking silver.
It was the end of 2016 when we last spoke to Gabriel Cullaigh, he’d just signed up with top Dutch development squad, SEG Racing. We’d expected great things after a 2016 season which saw him on the podium of the u23 Gent-Wevelgem and fifth in the u23 European Road Race Championship but his season petered out mid-summer due to health problems. But he’s back, with Team Wiggins and just days after he spoke to Velo Veritas he won Stage One and took the yellow jersey in the Volta ao Alentejo in Portugal.
In 2016 in Belgium Ethan Hayter won the tough junior races, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, GP Serge Baguet, De Klijte-Heuvaelland, was in the winning team in junior European team pursuit champs and was British Madison champion with Joe Holt. Last year he won the u23 Berlin Six Day with Matt Walls, took a medal in every British track championship he rode and was part of the winning u23 Europeans team pursuit squad. This season he began training with the senior team in January and was world champion within weeks, at 19 years-of-age.
It was December when we last spoke to Paisley’s fastest man, Jack Carlin about his hopes for the forthcoming Commonwealth Games in Australia – that was before a successful British Track Championship where he came away as Sprint Champion then an excellent Worlds campaign which saw him land two silver medals.
Scotland had an exceptional World Championship in Apeldoorn with Mark Stewart and Jack Carlin both on the podium; Stewart in the points race and Carlin in the individual and team sprint – both boding very well for the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in ‘24 days 09 hours and 55 seconds’ at time of writing. And there was that that remarkable young lady, Katie Archibald taking team pursuit silver with the GB squad and Madison gold with Emily Nelson.
We caught up with 18 year-old Killearn man, Lewis Stewart at the Bremen Six Day - one of the rare occasions when the sprint academy riders actually get out to race. The Bremen Six Day fans – as with those in Berlin and Rotterdam – like their sprinting with match races, keirins, flying laps and team sprints all included for the big guys. Despite me almost dropping Lewis as I held him up at the start of one race, he still took time to speak to VeloVeritas about being a young sprinter in the GB ‘system.’
A few weeks ago I posted on social media a picture of Davide Rebellin in his new Sovac-Natura4ever team strip for 2018; his 27th season as a professional. I commented that he was a ‘remarkable man.’ Immediately I was informed that I was, ‘glorifying a doper.’ When I responded by asking how he was any different to the pundits, TV commentators, self-styled fashion gurus and authors who have all fallen foul of the testers but are now accepted by the cycling community - no one could tell me. Former ‘cross star Barry Davies suggested that I organise an interview with the Italian; ‘good idea,’ I thought to myself.
He was 1991 British Amateur Champion, won the Franco-Belge against top opposition and took the major French Classic, Paris-Chauny - but was out of the sport by the age of 25 with his best years yet to come. His name; John Hughes. We thought he’d have a good tale to tell...