Friday, May 27, 2022
HomeInterviewsRuaraidh McLeod - First Win in Belgium

Ruaraidh McLeod – First Win in Belgium


It’s been a month or two since we last spoke, and it’s nearly time for Ruaraidh McLeod to head home to land of the long white cloud – but we thought we’d best say ‘congratulations’ on his first win (and see if he’s crossed paths with those Scotsmen that are also over there in Belgium).

Ruaraidh McLeod
Ruaraidh takes his first win in the heartland at Aarsele.

Your first win, congratulations.

“Thanks! It was in Aarsele, two minutes from where I live, an U23 race.

“It was windy and raining; I got away with eight others and had two team mates with me — that meant in the last few laps it was up to us.

“We were away for 100 K and in the last few laps we tried to get to get clear but it came down to a nine man sprint and I took it.”

And the results are coming now?

“I got second behind Patrick Cocquyt the other day in an ‘elite without contract’ race.

“Cocquyt is just so strong.

“And I got a fifth behind Mario Willems — he’s top winner this year on 17 — but he was quite lucky to win that one, a Lithuanian crashed behind him and that let him get the gap.

“Guys like Cocquyt and Willems, you have to watch them all the time — they’re the race winners.”

Ruaraidh McLeod
Ruaraidh is certainly enjoying his racing.

Who do you train with?

“Normally on my own but I was out the other day with Clinton Avery who’s just gone stagiaire with Radioshack.

“But there are Aussie and English guys with Kingsnorth that I can go out with, there’s a good community of English speakers.”

Have you come across any Scotsmen out there?

“Yeah, there’s a skinny guy (Mr. Young?) and a solid-looking guy (Mr. Nicholson?).

“I’ve seen them at races a few times; the ‘solid guy’ is starting to come into a bit of form, getting some results.”

Who’s been coaching you?

“Allan Peiper from Columbia has been helping me a lot; he was out here when he was even younger than me, so he knows what it’s like.

“I bounce ideas off him — and I’m in touch with my coach back home, Terry Jayde.

“Terry has coached guys like Greg Henderson and was New Zealand coach, he’s really good.”

Ruaraidh McLeod
Twice up the Kemmelberg makes for a hard race.

What’s a typical week like?

“I can race three times each week but if I have a big race for the club at the weekend then I’ll just train in the week, so I’m not tired for the race.

“Monday is always an easy day, though — cruise for an hour and have a coffee.”

Are you still with the family?

“Yeah, but I cook for myself, their meals are a lot different to mine — they like their frites!

“I enjoy cooking for myself, you can have a lot of time on your hands here and it’s good to spend time in the kitchen.”

And is the big bowl of pre-race pasta still the thing?

“Yeah, that’s part of the religion — three hours before the start!”

Ruaraidh is keeping a level head, taking the highs and lows in his stride.
Ruaraidh is keeping a level head, taking the highs and lows in his stride. (click for the full image)

How’s your weight?

“Up and down, but I don’t worry about it — there was a time when I did ‘that cyclist thing’ and decided to lose weight so I could climb better, but I lost a lot of power too and now I don’t fret about it.

“I weigh 74/75 kilos and feel good at that.”

How’s the equipment standing up?

“I’ve been really lucky having the connection with Allan and Columbia, I broke my bike — that’ll be a warranty job back home — and Allan gave me George Hincapie’s Scott from last year — it’s amazing.

“Allan understands and just helps out.”

How’s that Belgian weather?

“It’s cracked a little — more wind and rain.

“But we had four crazy weeks of scorching sun, 30/33 degrees, I was enjoying that!

“But lately, every race has been in the rain.”

Are you going home for the Tour of the Southland?

“Yeah, in two weeks — my first season in Belgium and I’ve enjoyed it.

“I’m organising things for next season and hope to stay for eight months.

“I’ll be riding the Southland back home and hopefully the Oceania track champs, but I’ll take a couple of weeks break, first.”

Ruaraidh McLeod
Rightly enjoying the attention and fruits of all the hard work.

Advice for riders thinking of coming to Belgium?

“If you wanna do it — do it!

“It’s a great place; come with friends and make friends here, that way it’ll help keep your head on when you get the ups and downs.

“One thing’s for sure — you’ll find out if you’ve got what it takes to be a bike rider!”

Sound advice. With thanks to Ruaraidh for taking the time to talk to VeloVeritas, and wishing him all the best for ‘The Southland’.

Pictures courtesy of Roland Desmet.

Ed Hood
Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 47 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, a team manager, and a sponsor of several teams and clubs. He's also a respected and successful coach and during the winter months can often be found working in the cabins at the Six Days for some of the world's top riders. Ed remains a massive fan of the sport and couples his extensive contacts with an inexhaustable enthusiasm for the minutiae and the history of our sport.

Related Articles

George Atkins – Time Trials, Belgium and Cooking!

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.

James McKay Blog – Tour de Mirabelle and Other Races

It feels like I only arrived in France a few weeks ago, yet the summer has started now. The weather and racing has been heating up, I've raced the UCI 2.2 Tour de Mirabelle and plenty of other events. Here's the story so far...

Mark Stewart – Looking Back at the Tour de Yorkshire

Scotland’s British Points Champion and World Cup Team Pursuit medallist, Mark Stewart was in action in the recent Tour de Yorkshire, building endurance for his next track campaign which centres round the European U23 Track Championships in July. We thought we’d best have a word with the man ...

Dan Patten Blog – End of Season Report!

the end of the season has arrived on the Dan Patten Blog. All in all it's been a good year - I've learned a lot, showed my strength (although sometimes a little too much) and certainly had some success along the way.

Freddy Ovett – Racing with U23 AG2R and “learning how to win”

'Ovett?' - is he any relation to Steve Ovett? Yup, his son - but we're not here to speak to or about dad, we want to hear what Freddy has to say. From runner to riding for the Ag2r-La Mondiale development squad in just two years - that's special and we just had to have a word. Especially when we found out he's 'one of us' - a Scotsman.

Mason Hollyman – Producing Top Class Rides in the u23 Classics

Mason Hollyman, the 20 years-old ex-‘Zappi Man’ from Huddersfield riding for Israel Cycling Academy continental team took fourth in the Italian u23 classic Trofeo Piva and fifth in the extremely tough u23 Liege-Bastogne-Liege. He’s also been riding at the highest level with the Israel – Premier Tech World Tour team in races like the Coppi e Bartali where the big teams joust with gung-ho ProTeams desperate for recognition.

At Random

Le Tour de France 2010, Stage 17: Pau – Col du Tourmalet; Top Two Ahead, Big Gaps Behind

'Andy talks tough !' say the headlines, he did try his best yesterday, his men used whatever was left to drive up the lower part of the Col du Tourmalet - then he went for it. However, not for one moment did it look like Alberto Contador was under pressure.

One to Watch: Daniel Teklehaimanot

Hidden away in North East Africa - 'The Horn' - bordering Ethiopia and Sudan is a little known country called Eritrea, officially 'The State of Eritrea.' At 118,000 square kilometres it's around half the size of the United Kingdom; with a population similar to that of Scotland at an estimated five million. It's better known for producing athletes of the running variety, but one ambitious, young sportsman is breaking the trend; Daniel Teklehaimanot.

Trinidad & Tobago – Day Eleven, a Lap of Tobago

Much of the Trinidad & Tobago 'Soca' music is topical, dealing with social issues like drugs and gang violence; political, blaming the politicians for high prices and squandering public funds or be-rating certain ethnic groups - I'm not sure a lot of it would get played in the UK.

Andy Schleck: Down to Two

Two nights ago there four men still in contention, then Contador was out of the race. Yesterday saw the end of Frank Schleck's chances, and tonight will see the demise of the final contender for the Tour. Andy Schleck will hope to defend his 57sec lead over Cadel Evans tonight, and will certainly fancy his chances. The last time he was in this position, Cadel just didn't have enough in the tank to overhaul Carlos Sastre back in 2008.

George Atkins – National Criterium Series 2013 Winner

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.

Rab Wardell – “I just have to get stuck in!”

One man we can’t ignore is Orange Monkey’s Rab Wardell; he understands that as a professional athlete you have to engage the Press, keep them on side and make it easy to write about you. And that’s how we came to be sitting down with him in the Cafe of the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, recently.