Kenta Gallagher stormed to an emphatic solo victory in the Scottish Cyclocross Championships on Sunday at Glenrothes, Fife. Behind the 17-year-old from Inverness, an incredible battle was fought in the race for silver and bronze.
Fireworks were predicted and that is just what we got in the Championship race on a tough cross course around Riverside Park at Glenrothes. Fast and flowing, with a healthy mix of hardpacked woodland path, grassy sections, barriers, tricky descents and tough run-ups, the Glenrothes course is rated as one of the finest in Scotland.
For the Champs race, organiser Graham Barclay of promoting club Kirkcaldy and District CC upped the ante a little further with the addition of a steep run-up and descent just before the end of the lap that would make for great spectating and prove to be decisive in the race for the final podium spots in the Senior races.
First up to race were the Youth A and Bs with 25 minutes plus a lap of racing. With series leader Scott Lindsey not racing, the two favourites for the Youth A title were Stuart McCluskey and Tom Arnstein. McCluskey had finished 2nd to Arnstein the weekend before on the sandy parcours at Irvine – could he get the better of Arnstein here?
From the gun, McCluskey quickly moved to the front of affairs and by the end of the first lap had opened up a small gap on Arnstein. It was a gap that Arnstein wouldn’t close as McCluskey powered away, gradually stretching his lead and never letting up over the remaining laps to take the win in fine style. Arnstein took silver ahead of Ryan Fenwick, who came from behind to grab the bronze medal.
Callum Foster took the title in the U14s (Youth B) category from Stuart Balfour in 2nd and Calum Magowan in 3rd.
Guy Willoughby reports:
The course for the U12s Champs races was a mini version of the full course, complete with fast, winding woodland paths, soft, heavy going grass requiring a dismounted run through, a pair of barriers, a fast downhill and a short uphill scramble. As a championship course, it was certainly one of the best designed tracks of the year – tough but with opportunities for a breather and most importantly a whole lot of fun.
A last-minute course change removed a steep, slippy grass descent from the equation but the youngsters still had a tricky descent and turn onto a bridge to negotiate instead. The course length proved to be ideal, making a 3-4 minute lap time for the 15 minute race - with the quickest U12 riders only just managing to lap the youngest riders.
Some 25 riders had pre-entered for the Champs race, taking in nearly all the regular young riders from the Scottish Cyclocross Series. The gridded start had 14 of the older U12s lined up for the first gun, with the younger U10 and U8 riders starting 30 seconds later along with fun riders in the Support race group.
Jamie Willoughby (Drumlanrig) was quickest off the line, but tried to ride through a muddy section while Andrew Merry (Discovery Juniors) quickly dismounted to run his bike and managed to remount ahead of Willoughby and into the lead, putting pressure on the 2009 series leader to overtake him on the rest of the course. With each lap Willoughby regained the lead, only for Merry (a schools running star) to retake it on the running sections.
However, on the final lap Willoughby pulled away, flying down the hill and through the technical sections, to take the win and the U12s title by some 20 seconds. Callum Shackley (Glasgow Riderz) tracked this lead pair and came in a good 3rd, just ahead of Emma Borthwick (Edinburgh Road Club) who took 4th overall, and leading lady rider. Close behind her were Rhona Callendar (Wallace Warriors) and Erica Allen (Wallace Warriors). These three U12s have consistently led the girls through the season, and look like being a very competitive trio in Scottish Cyclocross in future years.
Danny Mulholland (Johnstone Jets) and Lulu Bartlett (Edinburgh Road Club) took 4th places for the boys’ and girls’ U12, respectively. The pre-entered U10 riders saw Joshua Graham (Peebles CC) win the trophy in his age group, getting the better of Cameron Watson (Johnstone Jets) and Cameron Mellis (Carnegie Cyclones) and U10 winning girl Ariana Willoughby (Drumlanrig).
The U8 trophy went to Callum Reid (Wallace Warriors) who was following up on his convincing win at Dundee. The "Support" fun race was at the last minute combined with the main Championship race, with Joe Nally (Carnegie Cyclones) leading them away to get into the group of Championship riders and he crossed the line first among the Support race, close by Emma Borthwick.
With the champs race being pre entry only for race license holders, the organisers put on a support race to give non-champs riders too, the opportunity to ‘get their race on’ around the fast and flowing Glenrothes course.
Off the start line and Neil Dryden moved into the lead at the bottom of the tricky grass decent by the start/finish with Andy Wardman joining him at the front first time up the run up, closely followed by Pete Sammon.
On the back side of the course however Sammon moved to the front and quickly opened up a healthy gap. Behind, Wardman and Dryden took up the chase but never got close to Sammon who soloed all the way to the finish line. Wardman took 2nd spot, with Dryden not far behind in 3rd.
With the light beginning to dim, a large field lined up for the Champs race. From the gun, junior Kenta Gallagher, who soloed to the win at Irvine last weekend, signalled his intent with a powerful surge to the front on the initial start loop, immediately opening up a gap.
Looking smooth and incredibly strong, Gallagher built up a sizeable gap on the chasers but it was all back together at the start of Lap 3 as a mechanical forced Gallagher into the pits for a wheel change. It didn’t take long though for Gallagher to move back up to the front and with nobody able to follow, he soloed away over the remaining laps to take the Scottish Cyclocross Champion title in fine style.
Behind, a group of three riders, Craig Hardie, Dan Whitehead and Paul Newnham formed the chase group. For several laps, these three could not separate each other, Hardie and Whitehead looking slightly stronger on the tough run-ups, but Newnham able to come back and force the pace on the flatter, faster rolling sections of the course.
It looked like the silver medal would come from one of these three but a hard charging Davie Lines managed to not only bridge up to this trio, but then jump and stay away from them over the final laps to take the silver medal – an incredible ride. Bravo!
In the race for 3rd, Hardie and Whitehead were still locked together with Newnham just a couple of seconds behind as they hit the run-up by the start/finish for the last time.
Hardie got to the bottom first and with one last huge effort, managed to gap Whitehead. This was enough for Hardie to take the bronze medal a couple of hundred metres later, ahead of Whitehead in 4th and Newnham in 5th.
In the Women’s race, pre race favourite Ruth Fraser-Moodie continued her winning streak, taking the Scottish title in convincing style, leading almost from start to finish. Behind her, a great race developed between Anne Murray and Gillian Palmer. Neither could shake the other and they too hit the final run up together in the race for 2nd. At the line Murray got it just ahead a Palmer.
Gallagher’s win in the main race also earned him the Junior title from Grant Ferguson in 2nd and Finlay Young in 3rd.
A very well done to all who raced and a big thank you to Graham Barclay and his team at Kirkcaldy and District CC for putting on one of the best Scottish Cyclocross Champs events yet. Thanks also to local clubs Fife Century RC, Kennoway RC and Team Leslie Bike Shop for their help at the event and to Fife Council’s Bike & Walk to School Initiative for their support with prizes for the Youths and U12’s races.
Race Pics: Sue Melrose
Sue and others tackled the low winter’s day light to capture lots of great images from the race, which are up now on the Scottish Cyclocross group page on Flickr.
Next Up – Cross at the Castle, Isle of Mull, 12th & 13th Dec.
It’s the final hurrah this weekend coming as the Scottish Series heads to the Isle of Mull and the stunning Glengorm Castle for the final two rounds of the Series. It’s possibly one of the most remote locations in the world to race cyclocross and definately one of the most scenic. Check out this great little video by ace snapper Geoff Waugh for a taster of last year’s event.
With Series titles very much up for grabs in several categories and a £100 prize for first place in the Senior race on both days, the racing is sure to be hot. Possibly the most highly anticipated race of the weekend though is the Santa Cross World Championships. Oh yes!
Other highlights include a special appearance by Liesbet de Vocht, current Belgian time trial champion, lovely on site cafe and pottery and legendary commentator Jammy Johnstone on the mic. It promises to be a great end to what’s been the most successful Scottish Cyclocross Series yet.
All the details on the Mull weekend as well as Series standings and links to our fantastic Series sponsors can be found at www.scottishcyclocross.org.uk.