On a freezing, grey, Sunday afternoon on the frost hardened grass and mud of Dundee’s Caird Park, Scotland’s newest professional, Ross Creber gave his sponsors, Plowman Craven their first national cyclo-cross title.
The slim mountain biker was head and shoulders above the rest; a gutsy ride from Greig Walker (Edinburgh RC) gave him the silver medal ahead of junior, Kenta Gallacher (Team 777) who took bronze.
The course was well designed, mostly fast grass and single track through the woods with two climbs, one a rideable grass zig-zag and one a muddy flight of log-fronted steps; run by all, except the winner’s brother, Hamish whose mountain bike skills saw him ride where the rest ran – or walked.
A further couple of laps and, Creber and Wardell were clear of the other two and already it looked very unlikely that anyone but Creber would win, his face displaying little emotion as he lead Wardell across the frosted grass and leaves.
Creber drew the duo further and further ahead and then he was clear, Wardell simply unable to match the man in the blue and pink skinsuit’s speed across the grass.
Creber’s lead grew steadily, but despite the fact that the win looked certain from around quarter distance, the urgency never left his riding. There was no indecision as he chose his lines and sliced past lapped riders.
Wardell’s silver looked safe until around ten minutes to go, when his rear mech hanger broke and he had to shoulder the bike and run, a spell on a machine several sizes too small saw him get to his spare bike.
Behind, Walker had dropped his young rival Gallacher; the sight of Wardell’s blue Sandy Wallace skinsuit was the spur he needed and in the closing stages he passed an exhausted Wardell to put himself in the silver slot.
Gallacher too passed Wardell and launched a charge, which if it had come just a little earlier, might have given him the silver.
Creber was oblivious to the drama behind and cruised to the title, albeit he had his own crisis in the closing stages, when a high speed tangle with a lapped rider saw him hit the frozen grass, hard.
Walker was satisfied with silver and a delighted Gallacher took bronze.
Rab Wardell suffered mechanical and judicial problems, and after sitting in second place for 95% of the race, was left with nothing.
A dejected Wardell dismounted in the finishing straight and walked across the line, no doubt to express his frustration at loosing a medal.
And just when he thought it couldn’t get any worse – they disqualified him for an illegal bike change!
It just goes to show that even turning your unlucky race number 13 upside down, to try and break the curse, doesn’t work – as Mr. Wardell can testify.
What they said
VeloVeritas opened by asking if Ross Creber – now that he’s a pro – had sorted out his win bonus with PC management before the race?
“We only get win bonuses if we win National standard races. I haven’t been riding cross this winter, so I was only gridded in the third row. I managed to get to the front by the first corner though.
“The plan was just to take it steady for the first 20 minutes and then go – that’s how it worked out. Although, I got a bit of a shake when I crashed. It’s nice to get the win in my new colours but I don’t think I’ll be doing any more crosses this winter.
“I’m going skiing then it’s our first training camp. The team has new management this year and new sponsors – it’s going to be a good year.”
VeloVeritas editor, Martin Williamson tracked down silver medallist Greig Walker (above);
“My main thing is MTB racing, but I’ve been doing some cyclo-cross races recently as well, so I knew how crucial the start was going to be. I know that if you aren’t in the front group from the off, you really have your work cut out, so I made a big effort from the gun and got a good start from the second row, and was in the first 6 riders pretty quickly.
“On the first lap it split behind us, and before we started the second lap there were four of us away. It was hard for me to start so fast, as I’m not really a “quick” rider, but I have good endurance and I just plugged away. I wasn’t sure exactly where I was placed in the race as there was lots of lapped riders – I thought Kenta and I were in the top 6, but with a couple of laps to go I started to get shouts from the spectators that a medal was “on”. I’m very pleased to get a silver in this race, to go with my silver in the MTB cross-country race.”
Third placed Kenta Gallacher was happy with bronze;
“Greig was really strong and when he dropped me I eased a little, then I could see I was catching him again and rode hard. Initially I didn’t know that I’d passed Rab.
“I was second in the Peebles cross recently, won the Glenrothes one and was eighth last week, despite breaking my seat pin. The road? No – I don’t like it, I’m a mountain biker!”
1 Ross Creber S PLOWMAN CRAVEN 00:59:33 – GOLD
2 Greig Walker S EDINBURGH ROAD CLUB 01:01:39 – SILVER
3 Kenta Gallagher J 777 RACING 01:01:43 – BRONZE & 1ST JUN
4 Paul McInally S ROCK AND ROAD CYCLES 01:01:52
5 Ian Nimmo V SQUADRA PORCINI/WHEELS/MONO 01:03:18
6 Hamish Creber J SANDY WALLACE CYCLES 01:03:18 – 2ND JUN
@ 1 Lap
7 Neil Dryden S THEBICYCLEWORKS.COM
8 Dan Whitehead S UNATTACHED
9 David Lines S PEDAL POWER/ENDURA RACE TEAM
10 James Melville V GLASGOW UNITED CC – 1ST VET
11 Tom MacDonald S LOMOND ROADS CC
12 Steve Nicholson V DUNFERMLINE CC- 2ND VET
13 Alister Dow V THEBICYCLEWORKS.COM – 3RD VET
@ 2 Laps
14 Stephen Sheridan S IVY CC
15 Ewan Clark J DRUMLANRIG/RIKS BIKE SHED – 3RD JUN
16 Andrew Leith J DISCOVERY JUNIOR CC/SPOKES
17 Neil Scott V ANGUS BIKE CHAIN
18 Michael Nally V DUNFERMLINE CC
19 Matthew Cutler CUTLER S GLASGOW IVY
20 Tim Darlow S EDINBURGH ROAD CLUB
21 Gordon Bathgate S SQUARE WHEELS
22 Jon Ashcroft S UNATTACHED
23 Anja McDonald W VELO CLUB MOULIN – 1ST LADY
24 Gordon Dickson S UNATTACHED
25 Graham Gauld S UNATTACHED
26 Jonathan Meredith S TELLY SEVALAS PLAYERS CLUB
27 Drew Thomson S WALKERS CYCLE CLUB
28 Eileen Roe W SWIFT RACING – 2ND LADY
29 Finlay Young J VELO ECOSSE
@ 3 Laps
30 Simon Muir S THEBICYCLEWORKS.COM
31 Gordon Durnam S BELLAHOUSTON ROAD RUNNERS
32 Sandy Wallace V SANDY WALLACE CYCLES
33 Jonathon Herbert S UNATTACHED
34 Maddy Robinson W EDINBURGH ROAD CLUB – 3RD LADY
35 Scott Russell V WALKERS CYCLE CLUB
36 Kevin Sabiston V VC AZZURI
37 Clare Whitehood W GLEN MUICK XER
38 Rob Gray S UNATTACHED
39 Martin Mulholland V JOHNSTONE WHEELERS
@ 4 Laps
40 Chris Marquis S TELLY SEVALAS PLAYERS CLUB
41 Andrew Taylor V DRUMLANRIG/RIKS BIKE SHED
41 Howard Perkins V UNATTACHED
42 Fraser Merry V UNATTACHED
44 Jac Strachan W VELO CLUB MOULIN
45 Joe Sutherland J DISCOVERY JUNIOR CC/SPOKES
@ 5 Laps
46 Julie Nimmo W WALKERS CYCLE CLUB
47 Sarah Mitchell J JOHNSTONE WHEELERS
@ 6 Laps
48 Anna Harris W ANGUS BIKE CHAIN
49 Janette Hazlett W IVY CC
@ 8 Laps
50 Fiona Walker W WALKERS CYCLE CLUB
DISQ Rab Wardell S SANDY WALLACE CYCLES 01:02:12
DNF John McCallum S VELO CLUB MOULIN
DNF James Smith J DISCOVERY JUNIOR CC/SPOKES
DNF Kenny Kentley V VELO ECOSSE/MONTPELIERS
DNF Hamish MacLean V THEBICYCLEWORKS.COM
DNS Paul Murray S GLASGOW UNITED CC
DNS David Martin S PERTH CITY CYCLES
DNS John McLagen S PERTH CITY CYCLES
DNS Norman Gillan S SQUADRA PORCINI/WHEELS/MONO
DNS Andrew Wardman S VELO CLUB MOULIN
DNS Martin Steele S VELO CLUB MOULIN
DNS Edd Shackley V IVY CC
DNS Mari Todd W SQUARE WHEELS