Englishman Hugh Carthy (EF Pro Cycling) took his first Grand Tour win on Stage 12 of La Vuelta a España yesterday, attacking just outside the final kilometer of the legendary Alto de l'Angliru, soloing to the finish in a fantastic display of measured, determined riding.
With little to write about in terms of current Scottish racing we’re staying on the Retro Trail; going back a little before even my time – to the 60’s and Mr. Tony Mills who’s still involved in the sport, helping Dave Rayner Fund riders find their feet in La Belle France.
The ‘Giro Ciclistico d’Italia’ (or ‘Baby Giro’ as it’s popularly known) along with the Tour de l’Avenir and Giro Ciclistico della Valle d’Aosta, is one of the most important stage races in terms of a u23 rider wishing to ‘step up’ to a pro continental or World Tour team. In a sterling 12th overall in this tough race was Scotland’s own Calum Johnston riding for the Holdsworth Zappi Team.
Dave Rayner Fund 2018 ‘rider of the year,’ Heriot man, Stuart Balfour has been busy, post-lock down. There have been two top 10 stage places and a seventh on GC in the highly rated UCI 2.2 Tour de Savoie Mont Blanc; then a stage win and second on final GC in the GP Pays de Montbeliard – both race taking place in la Belle France.
We’ve been big on the ‘retro’ lately – for obvious reasons – but with the season starting to come back to life we’ve been speaking to one of the ‘men of the future’, Lewis Askey. Askey is just 19 years-old and probably best known for winning the 2018 edition of the junior Paris-Roubaix; for season 2020 he’s with Equipe continentale Groupama-FDJ, based in Besancon.
It’s a wee while since last we spoke to Scottish ‘Zappi Man’ Calum Johnston who’s out there in Bella Italia, chasing the dream - but when we heard he was stuck on a volcano in Sicily we just had to learn more.
Stepping up from the Junior ranks to compete in the u23 category is a big deal for any young rider, but to combine it with moving to a new team as well as living away from home in a different country takes courage and a rock-solid belief in your ability - qualities talented 18-year-old Yorkshireman Dylan Westley has in spades.
It’s not just any youngster who gets a ride with the Dutch SEG Racing Academy but ‘Brit’ Harrison Wood, who recently finished a solid top 10 in the Chrono des Nations, will be riding in SEG colours for 2020.
It doesn’t seem like it but it was season 2017 when last we
spoke to Ross Lamb, a David Rayner Fund man ‘doing good’ in
The Flatlands. Flanders gets under a man’s skin so we were surprised to hear he was moving to La Belle France – that said, times are tough with teams folding everywhere from the UK to Columbia and all points in between. But that was our first question...
Stuart Balfour’s win in the supporting u23 race to the GP Ouest France Plouay, one of the most prestigious amateur in France, was special. The Dave Rayner Fund thought so too and made him their ‘Rider of the Year.’ As well as his Plouay success he won in Montpichon and at the Ronde Briochine; he was top 20 in the tough Kreiz Breizh UCI stage race and top 10 in the Tour de la Manche.
When friends of VeloVeritas Dave and Vik – both devotees of Belgian palmarès websites tell me there’s a young British guy I should be speaking to then I take notice! Scott Auld is the man, with an ever-growing list of podium finishes in the Flatlands. We caught up with him recently...
Up there on the list of ‘cult’ races is the GP Plouay, now known as the Bretagne Classic Ouest France; not a race that’s high in the cycling public’s consciousness outside of Brittany but always hard fought on a tough parcours by a quality field since 1931. This year the winner was Belgian hard man Oliver Naesen (AG2R) who shrugged off the rain and took the laurels.
We spoke to Scotland’s Stuart Balfour at the start of the season but word has been trickling back that 21 years-old from Heriot who is a Rayner Fund rider with Cotes d'Armor-Marie Morin Veranda Rideau, ‘en France’ has been ‘doing the biz.’ Best have another word, we thought to ourselves...
Jacob Vaughan is arguably the most successful of the Rayner Clan, this year with his move to the Lotto-Soudal U23 team. A solid first year U23 in 2017 was capped with an excellent win in the Guido Reybrouck Classic. We caught up with him prior to his first big get together with the team.
The David Rayner has been helping young riders realise their continental dreams since 1995 with David Millar one of the first to benefit, and Theo Hartley from Bolton in Lancs will be one of the grant recipients in 2018. He'll be joining the Belgian Illi Bikes squad, run by long term Six Day soigneur and track aficionado, Etienne Illegems and his son Ken who was for a time a mechanic with Team Sky but could get round a tough kermis on his good days.
A long time ago, Dave, Victor, Ivan and I raced in Brittany; when we saw this young gentleman had two wins on roads we remember from our youth we just had to have a word. Like many of our interviewees - they are helping almost 40 young riders this year - Louis Modell is a beneficiary of assistance from the fabulous Dave Rayner fund.
The last few weeks we’ve been catching up with the young men who are out there in the Heartlands across Europe ‘doing it’ – Brittany, Lombardy and of course, Flanders. Englishman Ross Lamb – another man supported by the stalwart David Rayner Fund – has been notching up the results in the Flatlands: 4th in Heusden-Zolder, 2nd at Pulderbos, 2nd at Booischot, 3rd in the Memorial Vanconinsloo, 3rd at Huldenberg, 2nd at Geetbeets and 2nd in Linden Lubbeek.
The season of 2017 started with positive vibes. I was extremely dedicated and trained hard all through winter. My progression was measured by regular testing with my coach. By February I was counting down the days until I moved to Belgium where I would undertake my first season of racing on the Continent. Prior to leaving for my new home, I discussed a handful of targets to aim for during the season. This really motivated me to knuckle down and complete the last few weeks training.
It was ironic that Chris Anker Sørensen’s life should end doing what he had become known for after his career as a professional cyclist was over – preparing meticulously for his role as a TV race commentator, out riding the parcours of Sunday’s World Individual Time Trial Championship in Flanders.
We liked our jaunt to the Tour of the Campsies last year and feel at home among the rolling countryside and green hills there so we headed west, first of all paying our respects to the Robert Millar mural at the foot of the Crow Road; when you watch Roglič take the Lagos di Covadonga stage in the Vuelta it’s difficult to imagine the wee fella from Glasgow winning that stage – but win it he did.
We had a look around Hawick as the 2021 Tour of Britain race carnival hit town, we caught up with friends then headed out on the course, hiding from the wind on Wanside Rig to see the peloton as it headed towards Gifford...
With victories already this season in various time trial distances ranging from 25 to 100 miles (with a two mile hill climb win too), Iain Macleod (Kelpie Racing) added the Scottish Cycling Olympic Time Trial 2021 title to his growing palmarès.
The Ribble ‘Ultra Aero’ is a beautiful piece of machinery and in the manner of the best British speed machines – Aston Martin, Jaguar, Lotus, Norton – pulls off that trick of looking very quick even when it’s standing still. We caught up with Ribble CEO, Andy Smallwood and ex-pro and DS, Jamie Burrow, Ribble’s head of product development; here’s what they had to say.
Congratulations are in order as Christina Mackenzie became the fastest-ever woman to traverse the largest of the British Isles from it’s south western to north eastern tips. Christina, originally from the Isle of Lewis but now Stirling-based took time to speak to VeloVeritas a day or two after her epic ride.
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