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Rab Wardell – Scottish Cyclo-Cross Champion 2014


Unfortunately, VeloVeritas didn’t make it to the 2014 Scottish Cyclo-Cross Championships; it took that nice big colour shot of Rab Wardell (Orange Monkey Pro Team) in ‘Sportivs and Lance DVD Sales Weekly’ (aka ‘The Comic‘ – or Cycling Weekly) to remind us of the error of our ways.

We soon had the man who’s forsaken tarmac for mud and single track on the end of the phone…

Rab Wardell
Rab Wardell. Photo©Martin Williamson

Congratulations Rab, tell us about the win, please.

“I won by a decent margin, 30/40 seconds but there was some good competition from young riders who are on the up – U23 Jack Ravenscroft (Team Thomson Cycles) was second and the very experienced Dave Lines (Starley Primal) right there in third spot.

“I’m maybe not as fit as I would like so I had to use my experience and race smart – I can be guilty of racing recklessly but I knew I couldn’t do that in the Champs.

“The course was around Knockburn Loch at Banchory, there was a long, wide straight, a punchy climb, other bits of climbing and some sand so I dosed my effort and made sure I was able to recover a little bit each lap where I could.”

Did you have a back up team?

“I had Conner Johnstone and his dad there and Doug Young, too – they organised the pits for me.

“I had two bike changes, if you let the drive train clog up – especially in the sand – then you run the risk of ripping off the rear mech.”

And you’re running on discs…

“Yes, they’re amazing, we run cable operated discs rather than hydraulic and they’re just so consistent, lap after lap.

“The Fast Forward deep section wheels I’m running are great, too – the deep runs are rigid but I run my Schwalbe X tubs a little softer to compensate.”

But no SRAM 1 x 11 transmission?

“No, I’m on Shimano 2 x 10 with a KCNC chainset and that works just fine for me.”

Rab Wardell
Rab has been with Orange Monkey for a while. Photo©Geoff Waugh

How big a deal is the win to you and your sponsors?

“The sponsor is pleased and I’m made up – if you’re racing at a high level in Britain and Europe then you don’t often get the chance to win so to win you’re National Title is special.

“It’s not easy to beat guys like Davie Lines and Jamesie McCallum (NFTO Pro Cycling) and all those youngsters on the way up.

“And as I said, I’m perhaps not as fit as I’d like to be, I’m carrying maybe five kilos I shouldn’t be.”

Rab Wardell
Rab has spent some time this year coaching at the UCI HQ in Aigle.

And ‘cross is still on the ‘up’ in Scotland?

“Oh yes.

“At the first round of the Scottish series at Falkirk there were 350 entries and as many spectators.

“It gives it a big race feel and it’s probably the biggest turn out you’ll get at any bike race in Scotland.”

Will you ride the British Champs?

“No, I’ll be at a training camp in Spain at that time – apart from that, I was close to not even riding ‘cross this winter, it was a last minute thing and that’s why I’m not in as good shape as I’d like.

“I’ve got little to gain from riding the British, really.

“Life’s pretty busy; I’m working with Dirt School Mountain Bike Coaching here in Scotland and the Costa Cycling Experience in Spain where I take groups out on rides.”

And are you still an Orange Monkey in 2015?

“No, actually a wee bit of an exclusive for VeloVeritas – I’ll be riding for the Dirt School in 2015.

“The GP Sven Nys at Baal in Belgium (01/01/2015) and the Dig In At The Dock in Bo’ness (04/01/2015) will be my last two races for Orange Monkey.

“Orange Monkey has been great for me but since I’m working with the Dirt School it makes sense to ride for them – I’m looking forward to it.

“We’ll be on Santa Cruz bikes – nice machines.”

James McCallum and Rab Wardell-IanElliot
Rab chats with James McCallum. Photo©Ian Elliot

GP Sven Nys?

“I have a friend over there in Gent and it’s something we’ve spoken about for years – me going over to ride some races.

“But all the factors haven’t come together for one reason or another, until now and I’m racing on December 27th, 28th and 30th – two BPost Bank Trofee races and a Super Prestige.

“I have financial support from sponsors who have rallied round me and I fly out on Boxing Day – it must be the first time the Scottish Cyclo-Cross Champion has lined up for big Belgian ‘crosses.

“Next year perhaps we’ll be over to take more riders over – we’ll see how it goes.

“It’s never cheap racing abroad with flights, accommodation and travel once you’re there but Europe is ‘where it’s at’ for any kind of bike racing – road or ‘cross that’s where you have to go if you’re serious.

“We’ll be staying with the American guy, Gregg Germer at ‘The Chain Stay’ in Oudenaarde; he’s been out there for years; he and his wife organise specialist cycling accommodation.”

We hope that goes well – final question, who’s going to win the Worlds?

“It’ll be one of the young guys on the way; Mathieu van der Poel maybe or Wout Van Aert – but I’ll go for Lars Van Der Haar the young Dutch guy.”

We wish Rob ‘all the best’ for his adventure and hope to chat to him upon his return from the Flatlands.

The Worlds? Nys will be back and watch for Pauwels and Walsleben…

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.

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