Saturday, July 24, 2021
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's been involved in cycling for over 45 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, team manager, and 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. 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

Dan Patten Blog – New Colours for 2013!

So this is my first blog post from across the pond aka stateside aka the USA writes Dan Patten. Despite everything tending to be bigger here in the US, I intend to keep my blog postings shorter and more frequent this year (well this is the plan!). It's been a little over 3 weeks now since I took off from London Heathrow. A smooth flight to Philadelphia was followed by some airport time before another flight onto Greensboro, North Carolina...

Dougie Young – Off to Belgium with Realistic Targets

Here at VeloVeritas we're always banging on about riders getting themselves across the North sea to Flanders, so when one actually does, such as Dougie Young, it's only right that we should pay a bit of attention.

Bernie Nolan and the Legend of the Kazemaatenstraat

The Kazemaatenstraat is part of 70's cycling legend, a condemned cul-de-sac in Ghent where penniless 'Anglo' cyclists could have a cheap roof over their heads as they pursued their (mostly lost) cause to make it big and become a ‘Kermis King.’ Manchester's Bernie Nolan was one of those riders and has kindly agreed to share a few reminiscences with us...

Mark Stewart – This Young Scot is British Points Race Champion 2014

At the next Commonwealth Games there’ll be no David Millar or ‘Jamesie’ and even the perennial Evan Oliphant might not make it to Gold Coast City, Australia in 2018. But Dundee’s Mark Stewart should be there; at just 19 he took sixth place in the 20 K Scratch Race in Glasgow behind New Zealand’s World’s Omnium medallist, Shane Archbold with the distance being covered in 22:43 @ 52.819 kph – that’s quick.

The VV View: Young Guns, No Tears No Fears…

The year 2019 is almost behind us, who are the young guns who are going to be making the international headlines in 2020? We’ve picked out our ‘baker’s dozen’ of the best of the best youngsters around, we’ve set the age limit at 23 so that excludes phenomena, 24 year-old Mathieu Van Der Poel and 25 year-old Wout Van Aert...

James Davey – Getting great results in Italy, including the bestial Monte Grappa U23 Classic

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.

At Random

Marianne Berglund – “Winning the Worlds really launched me in the USA”

She only started cycling to connect with a cute guy… that never happened but she did go on to win a World Road Race Championship and more than 100 races. Swedish-born but now a resident of the USA, Ms. Marianne Berglund took time recently to speak to us.

Le Tour ’11, Stage 13 – top and tail in Lourdes

A day of two parts. Figuring today's stage would maybe see good racing, but not GC changing action, we decided to head over to Lourdes for another wee shot of the Village Depart, get a bit of breakfast, chase soundbites from the folk on the race and watch the depart. Walking into the Village we got talking to a young American - bet you're singing that now - who was on assignment from the Wall Street Journal...

Same, but so different (TDF 2012 Stage 13)

So if you looked at the result of last night and saw Greipel from Sagan from Boassen Hagen, you’d likely think “Aaah just another bunchie” – it was certainly the finale that I was expecting! And was far from the finale that actually happened. BMC took advantage of the stiff crosswinds and tough little wall 25km from the finish to send Cadel shooting off the front of the bunch.

Havik and Van Schip top the Copenhagen Three Day

From the very first chase there was little doubt about who was in charge of the Copenhagen Three Day 2020; Dutchmen Jan Van Schip and Yoeri Havik were the strongest men on the track. In the recent UCI World Cup in Milton, Canada Van Schip won the Omnium then teamed up with Havik to win the Madison – so we knew they were on form.

Laurence Roche – Irish Pro with Carrerra and Tonton in the ’90’s

Laurence Roche who happily chatted away to us at the 1991 Tour de France until the field was called to the line; 'sure the start’ll be a few minutes yet'. He looked a million dollars in his Tonton Tapis kit but was warm, friendly, grounded and good fun. Ever since then I’ve meant to catch up with him, again – and just after the New Year this year, I managed it.

Copenhagen Six Day 2010 – Day One

It's 01:41 Day One at the Copenhagen Six Day 2010 and I've decided to rattle off a few lines before I succumb to the coma that surely awaits me. It wasn't vintage racing tonight; there wasn't much of a crowd, the whole bunch looked like it was pedalling in mud and Franco said he'd never seen Bruno struggle the way he did in the first chase.