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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...
Four men – counting the one behind the camera – their mission, to eat as many sandwiches, scotch eggs and sausage rolls as possible in one afternoon, whilst soaking up the sun, roadside at the British Elite Road Race Championships 2018. One of the local lads had the race on his iPhone and the result was confirmed: 1) Connor Swift for Madison Genesis; 2) Adam Blythe (Aqua Blue); 3) Owain Doull (Sky).
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!
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.
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.
Le Tour, The Commonwealth Games, The Tam Gordon interview – there’s just been so much going on at VeloVeritas recently that we must have missed something? Ah yes, of course, Edinburgh Road Club’s Matthias Barnet winning the British Under 16 Criterium Championship on the technical Hog Hill circuit at Redbridge, London in July, for one thing.
As well as Raleigh’s Evan Oliphant’s recent overall win in the Premier Calendar another national competition was claimed by a rider who has close links to Scotland – 100% ME’s George Atkins regards Edinburgh as his second home and spent time in the capital after he left the BC ‘Plan’ a year or two ago. A former Commonwealth Games silver medallist on the track and now back with the BC programme he displayed great consistency to win the six race National Criterium Series just as Oliphant was sealing the Premier Calendar. We caught up with the Sheffield man as he racked up the miles to get his road legs back after all those one hour town centre efforts.
Many of you will have been there and will have your own race report inside your head but just to remind you: “Stannard and Fenn go clear on lap one; Millar, Kennaugh, Swift and Cavendish chase and eventually bridge up; those six are the race; Swift and Fenn run out of gas and slide off; Kennaugh gets dropped on the last lap; Cav leaves Stannard and Millar in his jet wash over the last 350 metres in Glasgow Green to be crowned British Champion.” Here’s the VeloVeritas take on our Sunday in the City by the Clyde, or as it goes in The Gaelic, 'The Dear Green Place.'
There aren’t usually too many surprises on the top of National Championship time trial podiums – Iain Grant’s win is a case in point; few were surprised by his success. And south of the border most of us expected Michael Hutchinson to continue his dominance of the 40 kilometre distance - after all, he just recently took his tenth 10 mile title. But there was indeed a big surprise in that British 25 Mile Championship as IG Sigma Sport’s 22 year-old Joe Perrett relegated Hutchinson (In-Gear Quickvit Trainsharp RT) to third; with Matt Bottrill (www.drag2zero.com) in the silver medal spot.
Winning the British elite road race title? Simple; go in the early break with a team-mate, drive to get a decent gap, ride tempo and when the opposition start to bring you back, step on the gas, crack them, then drop your breakaway companions to win in solitary splendour. That’s if your name is Ian Stannard – and that’s exactly how he came to be standing on the top step of the podium at Ampleforth Abbey on Sunday after 182 kilometres around a picturesque but tough parcours in North Yorkshire.
With the bells of beautiful Ampleforth Abbey peeling in celebration, Sky made it a hat trick of British elite road race titles; strong man Ian Stannard following on from Geraint Thomas in 2010 and Bradley Wiggins in 2011. Team mate Alex Dowsett made it a Sky one-two, with Raleigh's Russell Hampton taking a well deserved bronze after matching the two Sky riders blow for blow until the last lap of the technical finishing circuit in beautiful North Yorkshire.
It feels good just writing the words, National Champion. I left you at the end of my last blog sat on the sofa watching the Superprestige race in Diegem unable to race due to a back injury. I am so glad I did that now, taking things easy then really helped make the difference come national champs day, not a hint of injury was in my mind on the start line and I raced pain free (sort of, my legs were still screaming come the last lap).
When we heard on Sunday that our blogger Ian Field had won the British Cyclo-Cross Championship on a dry and sunny day in Suffolk, we wanted to celebrate that win with a chat. Ian hadn't stayed in England long - heading back to his Belgian home immediately after the race, to prepare for another event the following day, but we caught up with him today and began by asking him about the weekend.
George Atkins was a name that suddenly appeared on the Scottish scene back in the summer. And on Sunday the versatile man from Leicester took silver in the British U23 Time Trial Championships, but before his foray into the world of riding 'alone and unpaced', he spent six weeks in Flanders, so naturally we needed to have a word with him, not long before the British Champs.
Cervelo's Dan Fleeman left it late to take his first win of the year; but it took him just 3 minutes 18 seconds to convert late season road form to victory in the most specialist and punishing of races-the British Hill Climb Championship, on the 1100 metre Pea Royd Lane climb near Sheffield, England on Sunday. Against a field of specialist climbers, whose whole season centres around a few weekends in October, Fleeman was in a class of his own-relegating last year's champion Matt Clinton into second spot by a yawning margin of 14 seconds.
Kristian House of Rapha-Condor won, Chris Froome was man of the match and there was plenty of sunshine. That's the British Champs in a nutshell, it really was a great day. But as well as our VeloVeritas hats, we had on our "Supporter Hamish Haynes" bonnets too.
The 2006 season was a great one for James McCallum; it's not every year you win a Commonwealth Games medal. It seemed like it would take a lot to top 2006; how does the 2007 British Criterium Championships and the most glamorous crit in Britain sound?
Back in the UK, to win the British Cycling time trial championships, David Millar took time out of his busy schedule to speak to VeloVeritas, and discuss his ambitions and his move to a new team.
"I knew that if I was second or third round the last corner then nobody would beat me." And so it proved, as James McCallum added British Criterium Championship gold to Commonwealth Games points bronze, last night in Otley. VeloVeritas spoke to James just hours after his win.
We caught up with Evan after he secured another medal at the British level, this time on the track in the Points Race Championship. Read on to hear Evan's thoughts on his achievement, and whether he's coming back to race on the grass too...
We make no apology for interviewing Jason MacIntyre again. It's not every day that a Scotsman pulls-on a British champion's jersey and the Fort William man did that very thing after Sunday's British circuit time trial championship near Farnborough. In second place was multiple time trial champion and fourth-placed in last winter's Commonwealth Games TT, Michael Hutchison.
It's been another successful British track championship for the Scottish contingent with two of the blue riband events coming north of the border, the Kilometer to World Champion Chris Hoy and the Sprint to World's Silver Medalist Craig Maclean. In addition, Ross Edgar, Kate Cullen and Evan Oliphant all "medalled" - as the Americans would say. VeloVeritas spoke to Craig MacLean a few days after his win.
Ten years after Graeme Obree became the first Scotsman to win the British 25 Mile Time Trial Championship, Jason MacIntyre has taken the holy grail of time-trialling north of the Antonine Wall again - all the way to Fort William. A common denominator over the ten years has been the presence on the podium of former world points race and team pursuit champion who won the 25 in 1999, Chris Newton [now Recycling, back then with North Wirral].