199 Laps (pt5)

Embed from Getty Images

Bradley Wiggins was reported earlier today as competing in two track events at Glasgow’s Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. This later changed to just one event, the Team Pursuit with no Individual Pursuit planned for the former Tour champion. What are we to make of this decision, is he shunning his old friend, I doubt it, he has other plans, it’s about time for a bit more wild speculation to add to my previous beardy ideas….

After many reports of seeing Brad training on a GB pursuit bike since his public exclusion from the Sky Tour de France team, I had perhaps incorrectly assumed he was out to prove something with a world standard pursuit ride at Glasgow. I’d have no doubt that if he put his mind to it, Wiggins could certainly still record such a time, but that would involved much shorter & harder training sessions, which would likely have a detrimental effect on his time trial form for the rest of 2014.

I think we’ll see him go on to attempt an Hour Record ride in a short space of time after Glasgow, obviously that period of time will depend on form, I doubt even he knows. The current revised UCI Hour Record ride is within relatively easy reach of a rider such as Wiggins, if you can complete 199 laps within the Hour, or 49.75km, you’ve got it, all on a UCI regulation conforming pursuit bike. Exactly like the one he’s been doing Team Pursuit efforts on, which require high power output & fast recovery, also ideal for muscle adaptation for rattling out a high power output for an hour on the bankings.

It all makes sense now, taking time out for pursuit training would have made a bigger dent in his road season, ditching that one event complements his other goals, such as Worlds TT & the Hour Record. The beauty of the Hour Record, is that he can pick & choose the date when he’s in form & attempt to knock it out of the park for a Cancellara attempt. Whoever goes first will get it, but whoever goes second is under a much greater amount of stress. These guys can’t really fail to ride 50km in an hour, but every km above that gets harder & harder, the advantage is in going first. Time is slowly running out to become that first rider with others expressing interest.

Having looked at the long-range weather forecast, there may be a chance of low temperatures & rain on the date of the time trial in Glasgow. So to add to the speculation which always surrounds Bradley these days, I’d suggest that he may still start, but it’ll depend on the weather. Normally he probably wouldn’t be bothered, but if he’s on a specific plan to a specific goal, then a cold ride like that could set him back, it’s better to train by yourself than to risk illness.

A possible time trial victory in Glasgow, closely followed by an Hour Record ride, set against an underperforming Sky team at the Tour de France is a good marketing opportunity for a UK rider attempting to raise their public profile. Watch this space & we’ll probably only hear a week before he’s booked the London Velodrome for his ride.

Previous Outrageous Hour Record Speculation below:

 

Scottish Commonwealth Games Cycling Medals

Embed from Getty Images

The Medals

1970 – Brian Temple – Silver – 10 Miles Scratch Race

1986 – Eddie Alexander – Bronze – Sprint

2002 – Chris Hoy – Gold – Kilo

2002 – Chris Hoy, Craig MacLean, Marco Librizzi, Ross Edgar – Bronze – Team Sprint

2006 – Chris Hoy, Craig MacLean, Ross Edgar – Gold – Team Sprint

2006 – Ross Edgar – Silver – Sprint

2006 – Kate Cullen – Bronze – Points Race

2006 – Ross Edgar – Bronze – Keirin

2006 – Chris Hoy – Bronze – Kilo

2006 – James McCallum – Bronze – Scratch Race

2010 – David Millar – Gold – Time Trial

2010 – David Millar – Bronze – Road Race

2010 – Jenny Davis, Charline Joiner – Silver – Team Sprint

The Games

Here’s a brief resume of cycling events at the Commonwealths throughout the years, since they’ve been called the Commonwealth Games starting at Hamilton in 1930.

Hamilton, 1930:

No Cycling

London, England 1934:

Three track events were included, the time trial won by Australian Dunc Gray who now has a velodrome named after him, plus the 1000 yard sprint and a 10 mile scratch race. These were held at Fallowfield stadium in Manchester. No Scottish cycling medals.

Sydney, Australia 1938:

We had road & track events in this Games, with a road time trial won by Hennie Binneman of South Africa. The track events were dominated by Australia, winning gold & silver in both the time trial & 100 yard sprint, England took gold & silver in the 10 mile scratch. No Scottish cycling medals.

Auckland, New Zealand 1950:

The 4000m individual pursuit was included this time, along with the time trial, 1000m sprint, 10 mile scratch race & road race. Australia again dominating, with a possible 15 medals up for grabs, they won nine of them, with gold in four of the five events. No Scottish cycling medals.

Vancouver, Canada 1954:

Time trial, Sprint, Individual Pursuit & 10 mile Scratch race on the track, then the road road were contested at these Games. Equal first in the track time trial was awarded to Dick Ploog & Alfred Swift, both clocking 1:12. No Scottish cycling medals.

Cardiff, Wales 1958:

The format of track time trial, sprint, individual pursuit & scratch race continues, along with the road race. Notable in these games is silver in the individual pursuit to Tom Simpson of England. No Scottish cycling medals.

Perth, Australia 1962:

On the track, the time trial, sprint, individual pursuit & scratch race were contested, along with a road race. No Scottish cycling medals.

Kingston, Jamaica 1966:

Roger Gibbon of Trinidad & Tobago won both the track time trial & sprint, cycling commentator Hugh Porter (England) won the individual pursuit with teammate Ian Alsop winning the 10 mile scratch. The Isle of Man’s Peter Buckley won the road race, you may know his name from the British junior road race series trophy. No Scottish cycling medals.

Edinburgh, Scotland 1970:

With Scotland’s first Commonwealth medal, Brian Temple wins silver in the 10 Mile Scratch Race. Also included in these Games was the Tandem Sprint, along with track time trial, sprint, individual pursuit & road race. (The first Meadowbank Track League was also run in 1970 on this new 250m wooden track, it was organised by Alan Nisbet who also won it!). We’ve also got some notable names in here, it’s a star-studded line up, with medalists including Ian Hallam & Danny Clark.

Christchurch, New Zealand 1974:

A team pursuit is added to the format, with an expanding number of cycling events including track time trial, sprint, individual pursuit, 10 miles scratch, tandem sprint & road race. England’s Phil Griffiths, now a prolific team manager took silver in the road race, Geoff Cooke was in the tandem gold winning team, he;s still regularly seen coaching and riding masters events. No Scottish cycling medals.

Edmonton, Canada 1978:

This year really starts to throw some names I’ve seen in ‘The Comic’ in my youth, the same format introduced in 1974 is used in Edmonton. Medalists include Tony Doyle, Gordon Singleton, Gary & Shane Sutton, Phil Anderson. No Scottish cycling medals.

Brisbane, Australia 1982:

Into the modern era now, included is a 100km team time trial & no tandem sprinting, but we get more complete results on the internet from here on, so Scottish performances can be better monitored. Successful future continental pro’s Malcolm Elliot & Steve Bauer took gold & silver in the road race, but Australia are still dominating overall. Scotland’s Davy Whitehall has sneaked into the results, with and 8th place in the 4000m individual pursuit. No Scottish cycling medals.

Edinburgh, Scotland 1986:

Eddie Alexander stepped up and took a Bronze for Scotland at Meadowbank in the sprint. There’s an excellent article on him in Veloveritas HERE. Sprint legend Gary Neiwand took gold in the event. England’s Paul Curran won the road race and a youthful Chris Boardman was part of a bronze team pursuit squad.

Auckland, New Zealand 1990:

Australia & New Zealand battled out most of the gold medals in these Games, with Welsh lady Louise Jones winning the sprint with the introduction of female sprint & pursuit events. No Scottish cycling medals.

Victoria, Canada 1994:

Womens events expanded a little, with the points race added to the sprint & pursuit. Brad McGee & Stuart O’Grady of Australia had a very good Games, with McGee winning the pursuit, O’Grady the Scratch & both were part of the gold medal winning team pursuit squad, which recorded a reasonably ‘modern’ time of 4:10, another era is dawning, the battle between well-funded national track teams. No Scottish cycling medals.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 1998:

A womens road race & time trial added to the format for these Games. Notable names are Bradley Wiggins & Colin Sturgess taking silver in the team pursuit, Jason Queally silver in the kilo & Michael Rogers winning the scratch race. No Scottish cycling medals.

Manchester, England 2002:

Chris Hoy triumphantly appears on the Commonwealth stage with a gold medal in the kilo, then teaming up with Craig MacLean Marco Librizzi & Ross Edgar for bronze in the team sprint (3 riders in each ride, but 4 can be used in different heats). A successful Games for cycling in Scotland, considering the serious lack of medals in the past.

We have a full Scottish team list available for the cycling events as follows. Caroline Alexander, Sally Ashbridge, Jo Cavill, Caroline Cook, Katrina Hair, Russell Anderson, Richard Chapman, Ross Edgar, Chris Hoy,Alistair Kay, Marco Librizzi, Craig MacLean, James McCallum, Jason MacIntyre, David Millar, Ross Muir, Michael Pooley, Alexander Ross & Duncan Urquhart. Although I think David Millar opted to snub the Games and rode a 2-up TT somewhere in France instead.

Melbourne, Australia 2006:

More Scottish success, with gold in the team sprint with Chris Hoy, Craig MacLean & Ross Edgar. Ross Edgar also took silver in the sprint, then a cluster of bronzes, with Kate Cullen in the points race, Ross Edgar in the Keirin, Chris Hoy in the kilo & James McCallum in the scratch race. A hugely successful Games for Scottish cycling, the best ever.

Squad list:

  • Alex Coutts – Road Race
  • Ross Edgar – Track Sprint Events
  • Chris Hoy – Track Sprint Events
  • Marco Librizzi – Track Sprint Events
  • Craig MacLean – Track Sprint Events
  • Gareth Montgomerie – Mountain Bike Cross Country
  • Evan Oliphant – Road Race
  • James Ouchterlony – Mountain Bike Cross Country
  • Duncan Urquhart – Road Race
  • Robert Wardell – Mountain Bike Cross Country

Women’s

  • Kate Cullen – Track Points Race and Road Race
  • Ruth McGavigan – Mountain Bike Cross Country
  • Katrina Hair

Delhi, India 2010:

Professional rider David Millar won the time trial for Scotland & took bronze in the road race, while Jenny Davis & Charline Joiner took silver in the team sprint, another very good Games, with medals in events Scotland hadn’t performed in before at Commonwealth Games.

Scotland were represented on the track by Ross Edgar, Andrew Fenn, James McCallum, Evan Oliphant, John Paul, Chris Pritchard, Callum Skinner, Kevin Stewart, Kate Cullen, Jenny Davis, Charline Joiner & Eileen Roe.

Here are the Scottish riders & results from 2010 in the road events.

Men
Event Cyclist(s) Time Rank
40 km Time Trial David Millar 1
Evan Oliphant 11
Andrew Fenn 14
167 km Road Race Ross Crebar DNF
Andrew Fenn 13
David Lines DNF
James McCallum DNF
David Millar 3
Evan Oliphant 21
Women
Event Cyclist(s) Time Rank
29 km Time Trial Pippa Handley 16
100 km Road Race Jane Barr 35
Kate Cullen 17
Anne Ewing 37
Pippa Handley 31
Eileen Roe 20
Claire Thomas 24

Glasgow, Scotland 2014

Riders selected by discipline as follows (some may be listed more than once if in multiple disciplines):

Mountain Bike (Women):

  • Kerry MacPhee
  • Lee Craigie
  • Jessica Roberts

Mountain Bike (Men):

  • Grant Ferguson
  • Kenta Gallagher
  • Gareth Montgomerie

Para Cycling (Women):

  • Laura Cluxton
  • Fiona Duncan (pilot)
  • Aileen McGlynn
  • Louise Haston (pilot)

Para Cycling (Men):

  • Neil Fachie
  • Craig McLean (pilot)

Track Sprint (Women)

  • Jenny Davis
  • Eleanor Richardson

Track Sprint (Men):

  • Jonathon Biggin
  • Bruce Croall
  • John Paul
  • Christopher Pritchard
  • Callum Skinner

Track Endurance (Women):

  • Katie Archibald
  • Charline Joiner
  • Eileen Roe
  • Anna Turvey

Track Endurance (Men):

  • James McCallum
  • Evan Oliphant
  • Alistair Rutherford
  • Mark Stewart

Road Race (Women):

  • Gemma Neill
  • Katie Archibald
  • Anne Ewing
  • Charline Joiner
  • Eileen Roe
  • Claire Thomas

Road Race (Men):

  • Jack Pullar
  • Andy Fenn
  • Grant Ferguson
  • James McCallum
  • David Millar
  • Evan Oliphant

Time Trial (Women):

  • Katie Archibald
  • Lucy Coldwell
  • Anna Turvey

Time Trial (Men):

  • Andy Fenn
  • David Millar

Scottish Commonwealth Games Team, the predictions!

Embed from Getty Images

(Update #2, thanks for your thoughts on twitter, we’re building a better picture now)

The date has just passed for riders meeting the qualification standards for the Scottish  Commonwealth Games Team in Glasgow. The riders who have automatic qualification & have met all the required standards should now be waiting for the call to see if they’ll be representing their country in Glasgow 2014. The following is a bit of hopefully reasonably accurate guesswork, but remember I only got the TT course 80% correct, so these predictions by no means written in stone.

I’m gathering info on the Para athletes, so that’ll be coming up in the next couple of weeks, with another blog piece.

Events

Womens Track:

  • Sprint
  • Para-Sport Sprint B Tandem
  • 500m Time Trial
  • Para-Sport 1000m Time Trial B Tandem
  • 3000m Individual Pursuit
  • 25km Points Race
  • 10km Scratch Race

Mens Track:

  • Sprint
  • Para-Sport Sprint B Tandem
  • Team Sprint
  • 1000m Time Trial
  • Par-Sport 1000m Time Trial B Tandem
  • Keirin
  • 4000m Individual Pursuit
  • 4000m Team Pursuit
  • 40km Points Race
  • 20km Scratch Race

Mountain Biking:

  • Womens Cross Country
  • Mens Cross Country

Road Cycling:

  • Womens Road Race
    Womens Time Trial
  • Mens Road Race
    Mens Time Trial

Qualification Standards

I wrote a piece on the track qualification very early on, back when Chris Hoy was still possibly riding, but not really looked since, apart from spending some time on the UCI site attempting to work out which MTB riders may have met the standards. The full details, including the events that are required for the non-timed events are detailed in the Scottish Cycling Selection Policy.

TRACK

Mens Track (timed events):

  • Individual Pursuit: 4:30.396
  • Team Pursuit: 4:08.175
  • Sprint (200m): 10.394s
  • Kilo: 1:02.889
  • Team Sprint Man 1 (lap time): 17.901s
  • Team Sprint Man 2 (lap time): 13.529s
  • Team Sprint Man 3 (lap time): 13.95s

Men (Scratch & Points):

  • See selection policy document linked above

Womens Track (timed events):

  • Individual Pursuit: 3:41.581
  • Sprint (200m): 11.465s
  • 500m TT: 35.127

Women (Scratch & Points):

  • See selection policy document linked above

ROAD

Womens Road Race (In order of priority)

  • Winner of British National RR Championships 2013
  • A rider who is a current member of a UCI registered women’s trade team in the top half of the UCI ranked teams.
  • Selection for GB team on 2 or more occasions
  • Member of GB cycling podium or academy programme
  • National series event top 4 or National Championships top 6 placing on two or more occasions – prior agreed other events of comparable standard will also be considered when provided with validated evidence

Womens Time Trial (In order of priority)

  • A rider with UCI ranking points from time trial events on the international calendar
  • A rider selected for GB for World Championships time trial
  • A rider who has been nominated for the Road Race and has finished in the top ten of a national championship time trial on the UCI calendar
  • A rider who finishes in the top 3 of the British Time Trial Championships (senior category) or CTT 10/25 mile British Championships may be considered

Mens Road Race (In order of priority)

  • A rider who is a current member of a UCI World Tour of Professional Continental Team
  • Winner of British National RR Championships 2013
  • A rider who is a current member of a UCI Continental Team
  • Selection for GB on 2 or more occasions
  • Member of GB cycling podium or academy programme
  • National Series event top 5 or National Championships top 6 placing on two or more occasions – prior agreed other events of comparable standard will also be considered when provided with validated evidence.

Mens Time Trial (In order or priority)

  • A rider with UCI ranking points from time trial events on the international calendar
  • A rider selected for GB for World Championships time trial
  • A rider who has been nominated for the Road Race and has finished in the top ten of a national championship time trial on the UCI calendar
  • A rider who finishes in the top 3 of the British Time Trial Championships (senior category) or CTT 10/25 mile British Championships may be considered

MOUNTAIN BIKING

Men & Women (In order of priority)

  • Member of GB cycling programme (Senior or Academy)
  • Selection for GB on 2 or more occasions
  • Riders must achieve 2 or more results equal or better than the stated % figures at elite level.
    • 106% of winners time at UCI ranked event
    • 110% of winners time at World Cup
    • Average lap time to be within 110% of winners average lap time at World Cup (not including 1st lap)

The Predictions

I think there’s a reasonable understanding of who’s reached track qualifying times recently, sounded like everybody was encouraging each other to get the times at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome recently. As I stated before, I’m guessing, so don’t assume I actually know anything, it’s just some predictions.

Track: Womens Sprint

 I’m assuming that Jennie Davis has set a time, but no confirmation. I know Ellie Richardson has qualified for the 500m TT. Hopefully we can get a team sprint together in Glasgow.

Track: Womens Endurance

We know Katie Archibald has met the pursuit qualification times & can ride any endurance event as being part of the GB team. Otherwise there’s strong rumours than Anna Turvey has also set a pursuit qualifying time. Kayleigh Brogan, Eileen Roe & Charlene Joiner have all met the standards for the Scratch & Points through results in events, while Katie Archibald has fully qualified.

Track: Mens Sprint

It looks like we will have a full complement of riders who’ve met the standards, John Paul, Callum Skinner, Chris Pritchard (sorry I missed you in the first edit), Bruce Croall & Kenny Ayre. So hopefully we’ll be represented in all sprint events with some high quality riders. Great to see a major event with the kilo in it, come on IOC.

Track: Mens Endurance

Expect four riders to have met the qualifying standards, Evan Oliphant, James McCallum, Mark Stewart & Alistair Rutherford. I don’t believe they’ve met the Team Pursuit time, a very quick 4:08, so we’ll not be seeing a Scottish team in that event.There were no qualifiers in the individual pursuit, but some incredibly fast times & some very close to the world class qualification time, the legacy from this should raise the bar in pursuiting by some way in the future.

Road: Women

I’m not entirely sure who’s met the standards on this one, but Katie Archibald will be there, Eileen Roe looks good for a place. Anne Ewing & Claire Thomas have qualified for a place too, so looks like a strong team will line up in the city centre. In the TT, Katie Atchibald recently won a round of the UK TT series, beating other GB riders, Lucy Coldwell is a possible for the other place.

Road: Men

We should have five riders in the road race, of those David Millar, Andrew Fenn, Tao Geoghegan Hart & Evan Oliphant have automatically qualified, expect James McCallum to be in there too along with possibly Jack Pullar. Could Alex Coutts get a place, has he applied? As far as the TT goes, expect David Millar & possibly Andy Fenn to ride.

MTB: Women

We have British champion Lee Craigie, with Kerry Macphee getting some impressive results recently & Jessie Roberts, all who have met the standards.

MTB: Men

Some world class riders representing Scotland here, Grant Ferguson & Kenta Gallagher, both who have been getting results all over the world recently. The remaining place may be taken by a number of riders who have also been travelling & racking up ranking points, Rab Wardell or Gareth Montgomerie.

I apologise for anybody I’ve missed, but let me know if you’re missing from my list & have qualified. The official announcement will be made at the end of the month.

Details of all the previous Scottish Cycling medals at Commonwealth Games can be found HERE.

Scottish Olympic Cycling Team?

Embed from Getty Images Regardless of your political viewpoint, the current media focus in Scotland is on September’s referendum, the very big question of whether or not we’ll remain part of the UK, which has the potential for dramatic change in Scottish life & sport for that matter. Those who regularly read my blog will be familiar with the topic of change, so it’ll be no surprise that I’m dealing with this tricky subject, which is potentially too big to ignore or delve in to. With that in mind I found it worth looking at what changes may occur in Scottish sport if there is a ‘yes’ vote, with particular focus on cycling & the potential for a Scottish Olympic team.

I’m not particularly interested in this blog piece developing into an all-encompassing debate on independence out-with sport, that’s covered everywhere else. This is more of a short study on what may happen if there is a ‘yes’ vote, not on whether or not there will be a ‘yes’ vote. Looking at how it would affect grass-roots sport, development, coaching & our elite athletes currently riding for the GB Olympic programme. I’ve been unable to find much information anywhere else on this subject, so I’m assuming those reading this have not either, hopefully I can fill in some of the gaps of what may happen to our sport if Scotland becomes independent at this referendum, or at any time in the future.

Disclaimer: I’ve tried to provide links wherever possible so you can check anything I proclaim to be a fact (as this is an especially touchy & polarizing subject for many people). So feel free to click away if you’re interested in reading the actual documents that concern the subjects. What I’ve tried to avoid are any statements of fact from politicians of any persuasion, I have what I consider a healthy distrust of political posturing & often check facts in news reports, especially on the independence subject. So check the facts, read the stories, not the headlines & don’t take anything at face value on what you hear or read about the referendum. Where I’ve expressed an opinion, its pretty obvious that’s what it is, I’m well aware that I’ll get variable feedback on this blog piece, but if you spot an inaccuracy let me know & present some evidence I can link to, not just an opinion.
 

Is Rio 2016 Realistic?

I’ll go into the technicalities first, you can view the Olympic Charter online, it’s a lengthy document which shows all the requirements necessary for a sport within a nation to compete. Each sport federation has to be affiliated to the international governing body recognised by the IOC (International Olympic Committee). In cycling’s case, this is the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale). The charter also demonstrates that an NOC (National Olympic Committee) needs to exist for each nation competing in the Olympics (Ch4 pt29). The IOC define a nation as “In the Olympic Charter, the expression ‘country’ means an independent State recognised by the international community” (Ch4 pt30).

As far as defining a nation goes, there are a few different standards which the IOC recognise. Palestine has United Nations Observer State status & has its own NOC, which allows it to enter the Olympics. There are two Olympic nations which have no UN representation, these are Taiwan & Cook Islands (Taiwan surprised me, but it has no UN membership). Meanwhile nine territories of other nations are recognised Olympic nations, the USA have four, the Netherlands & China have one each (Aruba & Hong Kong), while three of the fourteen British Oversees Territories are represented, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands & Cayman Islands. South Sudan, while being the world’s current newest independent state (formed in 2011 after a civil war in Sudan), currently hasn’t allocated an NOC yet, so in the eyes of the IOC it isn’t a nation.  South Sudan’s marathon runner Guor Marial did compete at London 2012, but under the Olympic flag, a nation less athlete but still allowed to compete.

As you can see, the existence of a National Olympic Committee is the most important thing as far as the IOC is concerned. It’s not as hard as you’d imagine to be an Olympic nation if you follow the protocol set out in the Olympic Charter. So far that means that for cycling in Scotland, we’d need Scotland to be an IOC recognised state (i.e. simply have a Scottish NOC formed & meet one of the criteria above), the existing governing body of Scottish Cycling would be required to affiliate to the UCI, so that Scotland had an internationally recognised governing body for the sport of cycling. Rio in 2016 doesn’t look anything like as tricky as it did when I started my research for this blog & reading newspaper articles stating impending doom, it looks like a relatively straightforward process, even if Scotland isn’t full signed up to UN rules by 2016, it can still have an Olympic team at Rio 2016 if an NOC is in place. You can be sure that no politician looking to establish themselves in a new nation is going to let that administration issue slip by them, they’ll all be clambering to say it was them!

What Happens to Elite Athletes

I asked the Scottish Government & the UK Government for information on this subject & how the sport would be funded post-independence. I’ve not had a UK Government response, but was supplied with some information from the office of Scottish Minister for Commonwealth Games & Sport, Shona Robison. I’ll give you a brief summary of what came from this correspondence:

  • It’s intended to have both Olympic & Paralympic teams at the next Olympics.
  • Scotland meets all of the requirements of the International Olympic and Paralympic Committees and would apply to become a member as soon as possible.
  • The IOC is a body that has a history of quickly welcoming newly recognised independent countries. We believe it should be a relatively straightforward process which would mean an Olympic Team Scotland in place for Rio 2016. (Which I think I’ve discovered myself too, as you’ve already read)
  • Arrangements will be put in place to ensure that Scottish athletes were able to compete in Rio 2016 by attending any necessary qualifying events in the lead up to Rio 2016. This work would be undertaken in parallel to the wider governance arrangements required for Olympic and Paralympic accreditation, establishing Scottish Olympic and Paralympic Committees and transferring functions currently undertaken at UK level.
  • Since 1998, the sportscotland Institute of Sport has helped prepare many athletes to perform at the highest level. In the event of independence, elite athletes would receive support through sportscotland which would be funded through continued investment from the Scottish Government and our fair share of National Lottery contributions. As part of our resolutions with UK Government we will seek Scotland’s share of UK Sport funding. This, coupled with fantastic facilities including the Sir Chris Hoy velodrome and a new National Performance Centre for Sport being built at Heriot Watt University, will ensure Scotland is extremely well placed to develop our future athletes.

I’d hope that Scots like Katie Archibald, Callum Skinner, Kenta Gallagher & Grant Ferguson (who are all on the GB Olympic programmes) would experience a smooth transition to a Scottish Olympic programme to allow them to progress correctly. Perhaps we could expand that programme & allow a larger selection of talented riders to progress towards Worlds, Commonwealth & Olympic medals. This is likely, based purely on what we see with the Scottish ladies, competing in the European Classics this year, getting huge amounts of experience racing in big fields, on cobbles, with the best riders in the world. Some have also been competing at UCI registered track events over the past year, gaining the valuable qualification standards to compete as part of a Scottish team at the Commonwealth Games.

In men’s racing, a Scottish team could gain entry to events which currently are open to national teams, these come under UCI category 1.1 (one-day race) or 2.1 (stage race). Also if there are any UCI 1.HC (one-day race) or 2.HC (stage race) in Scotland, then national teams from the country of the organiser can ride. This rule currently applies to the Tour of Britain, but as we’d no longer be part of the UK, a Scottish team couldn’t take part. Some examples of 1.1 or 2.1 events that a Scottish mens team could ride are Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, Strade Bianche, Trofeo Mallorca, Herald Sun Tour, Tour of Qatar, Vuelta a Murcia & Tour de l’Avenir. With some significant investment, we could be providing some incredible opportunities for our developing riders, although Scotland would need some riders who attract the attention (or some political interest, as always) of the organisers to attract an invite.

Working Group On Scottish Sport

I wasn’t aware of this until Shona Robison alerted me to it. The future of sport does look to have been considered by the politicians in Scotland in the event of a ‘yes’ vote, across parties. In September 2013, an independent group named the ‘Working Group on Scottish Sport‘ was set up & chaired by Henry McLeish, a former Labour MP & the person who took over as Scottish First Minister after Donald Dewar’s sudden death. I searched the White Paper for some detail on what would happen to sport in Scotland, there was very little, with the WGSS filling in the detail. This study intends to give us a better picture of what may happen post-independence. The conclusions will be published in a final report. The topics covered will include the following:

  • The action necessary to ensure Scotland can be successful in future Olympics and Paralympics in its own right;
  • The continuing development required to ensure that Scotland remains a country of sporting excellence, with opportunity at all levels;
  • The potential for sharing facilities and resources across the Home Nations and abroad.

It seems comments from people like Chris Hoy (see quotes later in article) may have been taken on-board & acted upon, hopefully we’ll get a better picture in the next few weeks when the conclusions are released in Spring 2014. This will hopefully include what exactly will happen with grass-roots sport development & employment of elite coaches across different sports.

Similarities

Embed from Getty Images Comparing other European nations who have a cycling culture we’d consider replicating, we find Denmark has a population of about 5.5 million, very close to Scotland’s. They have one indoor 250m velodrome & two outdoor ones, again, the same as Scotland. Denmark has an enviable & very successful track team at world championship & Olympic level (Danish team pursuiters pictured above) & plenty of riders in the pro ranks.

As an economical comparison of Scotland V Denmark, it’s worth noting that according to the Institute of Fiscal Studies report (p9), Scotland’s projected GDP would be approx 17% higher per capita than the Danish $37,000 figure (which is almost identical to current UK GDP) & they are not in the Euro zone, but as I discovered are running their own currency (Krone) pegged to the Euro. A pegged currency to Sterling is one of the fiscal commission’s published options, I personally presume that this is probably the much discussed ‘plan B’  which is already in successful operation in a similar nation to us & a member country of the EU, perhaps some politicians can’t use google as well as an amateur blogger, it’s already been published.

So as a comparison based on the above, it’s likely (in my opinion) Scotland would have a sports development budget at least as good as the Danes, if not a little better. They have produced a nice Team Danmark pdf showing their focus across all sports & how athletes selected by their federation are included in various projects, plus an overview of the structure, this seems like a good proven & successful model to look at for Scotland. It’s worth a read.

The Eleven Danish World Tour riders:

Jacob Fuglsang (Astana), Sebastian Lander (BMC), Lasse Norman Hansen (Garmin Sharp), Lars Bak (Lotto Belisol), Michael Andersen (Tinkoff-Saxo), Jesper Hansen (Tinkoff-Saxo), Matti Breschel (Tinkoff-Saxo), Christopher Juul Jensen (Tinkoff-Saxo), Michael Morkov (Tinkoff-Saxo), Chris Anker Sorensen (Tinkoff-Saxo), Nicki Sorensen (Tinkoff-Saxo)

The Two Scottish World Tour riders:

David Millar (Garmin Sharp), Andy Fenn (Omega Pharma Quick-Step)

To put that in perspective, the UK has 12 riders in teams at that level with a population of around 65 million compared to Denmark’s 5.5 million. It would seem feasible that with a very good long-term plan & resources, an independent country like Scotland could have just as many top riders as the UK has now. It requires a culture change, coaching, facilities, talent spotting & organisation, it can’t be done overnight. But with a serious plan…

Cycling in Scotland, what changes?

Those of us involved in the sport are often found discussing the ins & outs of British Cycling race categories, licence points, rankings & the amount of races for 4th category riders. This may soon become a thing of the past if there’s a ‘yes’ vote. If so, it’s prudent that we consider what the sport would look like in a new Scotland. An independent state would mean a truly independent cycling governing body, currently ‘Scottish Cycling’ is considered by ‘British Cycling’ as a region, while ‘Scottish Cycling’ is a separate company who use the ‘British Cycling’ system of licences, insurance, coaching & structure. This whole structure would need to be re-thought.

Parts of the current structure don’t serve our smaller & more spread out population particularly well, so something that suits Scotland would have to be pursued, now is as good a time as any to look at that. While traditionally ‘Scottish Cycling’ (formerly SCU) has been mostly embroiled in road racing, that may not be where a redesigned future of Scottish cycle sport may lie. Rather than working within the constraints of ‘British Cycling’ rules, regulations & future planning, a whole new structure could be designed. The ‘British Cycling’ performance plan is based on Olympic medals, perhaps mimicking this for a nation less than a 10th of the population isn’t realistic. We could look to our natural strengths, with a sparsely populated landscape & plenty of opportunities off-road, a look at that side of the sport could pay benefits. Non Olympic sports such as downhill mountain biking & cyclo-cross have never had the full focus of a nation, Scotland is surely well placed to adopt that kind of focus? Providing opportunities in areas of cycling that are popular without governing body control, where people are riding bikes because it’s fun, not for any performance reasons. This is likely where the growth in cycling will come from, with cross-over into other disciplines highly likely, off-road development could feed talent into all areas.

Regarding road racing, if the category system was removed (this has riders grouped into ‘British Cycling’ defined categories 4th, 3rd, 2nd, 1st & Elite, based on points gained in categorised races), then we may have the opportunity to completely remodel the system. Most races could be handicapped, with only regional, national championships & series events (where you would gain your higher rankings for competition overseas), then everybody could be involved in racing, regardless of ability. The weaker riders would learn by working together ahead of the fast groups & there would be no problems with race categories. It may even give us a chance to finally reduce the number of standard distance time trials, allowing riders of all abilities to compete in bunch racing. You’d get the occasional ringer, participation would be high & handicapping may not always work as well as expected, but dare I say it, we could make the bulk of road racing a ‘fun’ thing to do!

In Scotland we have ‘Scottish Cycling’ & ‘Cycling Scotland’, which have some crossover areas. Independence would be an ideal opportunity to combine these organisations with back-to-front names to each other. That way we could have a single organisation which deals with participation, racing, cyclists rights, cycling facilities (leisure, commuting, racing), all bundled together. With a departure from ‘British Cycling’ insurance & systems, this can make a big difference to how the sport of cycling is run, along with making funding a much simpler task. Cycling tourism is another area where growth could be extensive in cycling, we have fantastic scenery, trails & roads, all within relatively easy reach of airports & civilisation. Scotland already has the infrastructure to service additional tourists, wouldn’t it be nice if organisations all worked together to promote cycling, rather than try to put in place plans to syphon off as large a chunk of the cycling budget as possible, it could all go to one organisation with the best interests of cycling in general at its heart.

Athletes Opinions

Politicians & media love to get sports stars involved in political debates, they think it gives validity to whatever viewpoint they have chosen, selectively quoting the athletes or in some cases just making it up. Chris Hoy was a particular example of a very high-profile athlete who they tried to draw-in, regardless of his comments & his desire to say nothing particularly newsworthy on the independence debate. He was mis-quoted & apparently abused online as a result. Most media didn’t report the actual words, so here they are, not exactly the Scot-hating sportsman he was portrayed as in the more sensational press, those who’ve chatted to him will know this already.

What Chris Hoy really said. “You look at the results of the Scottish athletes over the years and we have had some fantastic athletes and some fantastic results. But it would not be quite as simple as just saying, ‘there is a Scottish athlete, they have won a gold medal, therefore that’s a medal for Scotland’. Most of the athletes have had to move to facilities which are often out with Scotland. I had to move down to Manchester because there was not an indoor facility in Scotland. I went to Manchester, trained with the British team and benefited from that. The first thing you have to do if you’re really serious about it is you have to provide the facilities and the coaching infrastructure. In Scotland we have the Institute of Sport and SportScotland there to try to give support to the athletes. There is support but it is not quite as simple as saying ‘we had X number of medalists from these Games, therefore that will translate into the same medals next time’. It will take time. It will weaken the British team obviously if Scotland went separately, and it would be harder for the Scottish athletes, initially, to establish themselves in a new training environment, with new coaches, with a different environment altogether. It’s not to say its impossible but it would just be a different challenge.

As with the recent clambering for quotes from the curlers at the Sochi Games, the media crave some controversy, they need to sell online adverts & papers & require controversial headlines, regardless of the content of the story. The fact is that elite sports people probably care much more about their sport than they do politics, their goal is to perform at the highest level they can.

Do we really expect athletes who are essentially employed by the GB team on the Olympic programme to say anything derogatory about their employers, who have the power to select or de-select them from their ultimate goal? The athletes & staff involved in Olympic sport have to work as a team, so don’t expect to hear anybody bad-mouthing their sporting family, a team which they have no influence whether they’ll be playing for in 2016. This is why you’ll hear more-often-than-not that they’re proud to compete for Scotland & for GB, these people are not daft, they know the importance of team unity for their own success, it’ll not be thrown away on a whim.

It’s a tricky subject for athletes to deal with, but saying that you strive to compete at the highest level you can is usually the best option, I don’t want to see our Commonwealth athletes chased for opinions, but we will see it at Glasgow 2014, lots. With that in mind, I’ll be taking any Glasgow 2014 published athlete quotes with a pinch of salt, until I see the actual interview or a transcript. Don’t write off any athletes you previously respected who are interviewed at the Commonwealth Games, who are reported to display extreme views in any political direction. They may not have said what’s implied, remember people are trying to sell papers & direct you to websites with adverts.

I will be keeping a close eye on any mis-quoting & I’ll publish the transcript or videos in full if I can find them, our riders are there to compete, not to get involved in anybody’s political strategy. I’m not selling you anything & I have no adverts, I have no benefit from page view numbers rising, I hope to tell it as-it-is. History tells us to expect things to get very dirty around that time, from activists & media representing both sides of the referendum debate.

The Gist Of It

Research for this blog piece has really opened my eyes to understanding the process of Olympic participation of a Scottish team, plus gathering facts on the whole independence issue has been very interesting, if somewhat time consuming. Most of the information politicians are shouting about is out there in the public domain, I was previously led to believe that wasn’t the case.

It’s hard to see how Scotland couldn’t manage to have a National Olympic Committee in place in a very short period of time & be recognised as one of the many options open to nations seeking representation at an Olympic Games. If the vote is ‘yes’, then I’m very sure Scotland will be represented at Rio 2016, I can’t see a reason why not based on the information regarding Olympic participation.

As far as I can see, the Olympics isn’t the only thing that Scotland could focus on, a complete restructuring of all Scottish sports bodies could be put in place. This would allow us to start from a blank canvas, the GB team sometimes seems to lack focus on World Championships, this is something a smaller nation really can’t afford to do, an independent Scottish team would have to take any opportunity for medals it could get. Downhill mountain biking & cyclo-cross could both have a big future for Scottish talent development. These could be a focus for a source of success, away from the highly funded track medal machines of GB & Australia.

We could combine mountain biking competition & participation with tourism & leisure facilities as part of a wider plan for getting people active & fighting obesity. We have many ski resorts & locations which have pre-existing chair lifts which can be adapted to carry bikes. With a downhill mountain bike course built at each of these we could expand these resorts seasons into the summer with some careful marketing, providing the local economies in these mountainous areas of Scotland with some extra income during the summer.

The political debate is raging around Scotland, people are talking politics everywhere you go & getting engaged in debate. Sport is often very closely linked to political strategies, you’ll see this go overboard at Glasgow 2014. The competitors & fans just want to see things improve & their nation doing well, the information revealed by the WGSS should provide the information I’m looking for regarding sports funding & opportunities. I’m sure this will be a constantly changing subject, I’ll try to keep on top of it & I do hope ‘Scottish Cycling’ are considering their options & opportunities in the event of independence, but if they are, I fully understand they can’t really tell ‘British Cycling’, or ‘some blogger’.

Katie Archibald – World Champion!

In her first Worlds, the Scot wins Gold as part of GB Team Pursuit squad. The future looks incredible for this young lady, the most talented rider from Scotland since Hoy & Obree. We’ll see her in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, no team pursuit there, but will be representing & hopefully winning medals for Scotland at her home Games.

If the programme allows it we’ll see her competing in the Commonwealth Games 3000m individual pursuit, the 10km Scratch Race & 25km Points Race.

Video of Team Pursuit Final.

Wiggo Comes to Glasgow, again…

Wiggins
Brad in the Team Sky ‘Death Star’ bus.

A source close to Team Sky has provided some startling information regarding the motivation behind newly bearded Bradley Wiggins decision which was announced today, that he is taking part in the Commonwealth Games time trial in Glasgow. It transpires that the choice may have been heavily influenced by some new-found friends he encountered during his ‘winter of discontent’ after his 2012 Tour de France victory.

Brad allegedly fell asleep on a train after a particularly wild night out in Manchester, then woke up in Glasgow Central station several hours later. Not wanting to waste the trip, the Olympic hero decided to explore the local culture as an accidental tourist & happened upon Glasgow Cross, where the patrons of the long-established Tollbooth bar welcomed him in with open arms. There he entertained the locals for two whole days with his tails of conquering France & the finer points of cultivating facial hair, the latter of which was a speciality of many of the regulars. During this time many stories were told of the amazing opportunities that exist for bearded gentlemen that simply did not exist for the sideburned Sir, his mind was made up & a full beard was planned for Glasgow 2014. Not only would this provide some additional warmth for the Scottish summer (marginal gains), but he would also win the hearts & minds of an otherwise potentially hostile public, not partial to a shaven legged Englishman, wearing a St Georges cross skinsuit in Glasgow City Centre, just a few weeks prior to the referendum on Scottish Independence. With the finest ginger beard seen on the face of any professional cyclist the world had ever seen, he could woo the Scottish crowds & this time sit on the Commonwealth throne (rather than the Olympic one) as his rivals recorded their times on the leaderboard. The scene was set for a relatively relaxed 2013 race programme, followed by winter 2013/2014 spent cultivating the secret weapon, the fastest ginger whiskers in history, designed to create adoration from the Scottish public. Then a full assault for the Glasgow 2014 Time Trial title as his primary objective. As it’s transpired, this is exactly what is happening.

A source close to somebody who watches ‘The One Show” has confirmed that Hugh Porter will not be the BBC commentator during the Commonwealth cycling events, but instead they will be using Brad’s close friend & doppelgänger Frankie Boyle, also a big fan of the monarchy. Unknown to most, Frankie is also a keen cyclist & has an in-depth knowledge of the finer points of aero helmets & race pacing, it should provide much better coverage that Hugh’s constant “full of riding” commentary we see in every event. The post race interview with Brad & Frankie is scheduled to be broadcast after 9pm for some undisclosed reason, so Frankie’s wife Susan Boyle will be interviewing riders during the daytime & providing post race soundbites.

In a recent poll of attitudes towards Bradley Wiggins from a wide demographic of Scottish cycling fans, it showed a very large swing towards “Good Guy”, in a stark contrast to a pre-beard poll which showed the majority chose the other option. The strategy appears to have worked well & I urge all spectators to cheer on Bradley when you see him on the course. He’s certainly made a huge effort & deserves our support.

If you’d like to meet Brad after the time trial on 31st July, it’s almost certain you’ll find him in his favourite Glasgow bar, seeking advice on his next career goal.

Glasgow 2014 TT Route?

Click for detailed PDF route.
Click on map for detailed PDF route.

The McLennan Arch looks a most likely venue to host the riders start ramp for the cycling time trial of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. This Glasgow Green landmark will provide an atmospheric launch site for the riders as they tackle the unexpected course, it could also provide a little shelter if we get some ‘unseasonal’ rain in Glasgow in late July.

The Event

31st July is the date, with riders competing between 10am & 3:30pm to avoid any clash with rush hour, on what are normally some very busy roads. The official route hasn’t been confirmed yet, but if you click on the map you’ll see a PDF file that’s been lurking on the Scottish Government site for some time.

1. The Start & False Flat (to km7)

On leaving Glasgow Green, the riders will turn right onto the Saltmarket, passing Billy Bilsland’s bike shop on the left, which will be doing good business that day. We head north to meet the Gallowgate at Glasgow Cross, a stones throw away from one of Glasgow’s main shopping roads, Argyle Street. Heading east along the Gallowgate until a left turn just before the Forge Shopping Centre, then it’s north over Duke Street & onto Cumbernauld Road, where the riders should be able to start settling down into a rhythm. This takes us onto the boulevard of the old A80, which is slightly uphill all the way, could fool a few riders as it looks like a big fast road. As we cross over the M8 & reach Hogganfield Loch the most likely scenario is to take a sharp left turn onto Royston road.

The course will have been steadily rising to this point, from a start at sea level, we’re now at the highest point of the course after only 7km, peaking around 100m. So hardly a flat TT for these guys, which may rule out riders such as Michael Hutchison from a medal & allow the World Tour riders to shine. It will guarantee a fast finish. The road previous to the sharp left we just negotiated is mostly covered on the return stretch, there are some long fast shallow descents back into Glasgow Green. A rider could easily blow themselves to pieces on this initial sector of the TT, it will require a measured ride & a curtailment on the big event enthusiasm for some.

2. The Lumpy North Segment (to km17.5)

Following Robroyston road round, we eventually come to a big roundabout, with a hopefully well traffic controlled large Asda. The road rolls past housing estates & into open countryside for the next few km’s, with views over the Campsie Fells to the left through your visor. This is quite a sticky up-and-down road, still not ideal for the big gear testers, you can expect plenty of retired clubmen to be on these small slopes, enjoying a Thursday out on the bike with their pals & watching a great event unfold in front of them.

The sweeping bends & small inclines lead the way to suburban Lenzie, where we take a left turn, followed closely by a right turn onto the fast Lindsaybeg Road section. Which takes us up to the additional segment I expect only the men to ride.

3. Men Only Segment (to km24.5)

On a small rise, we turn left onto an uncategorised road called Burnbrae Road, this is a sudden change for the riders, we move from wide fast roads, to technical single track farm roads. This is getting quite interesting now. I’m assuming that the different distances the men & women ride will be decided by the inclusion of this segment for the mens TT only.

This section consists of some short, but relatively steep (for a TT) inclines, guaranteed to steal some strength from the legs. If I managed to avoid work that day, I’d watch the men’s event on this section, preferably on the steepest sections, you’re sure to witness some pain.

As we continue & skirt Moodiesburn, the roads return to the wider, more open roads we saw on segment 2. The terrain hasn’t stopped rolling yet, it’s still a hard time trial. We detour through Chryston & then head north again to reach the point we originally turned left onto the segment.

4. The Stepps (to km28.5 for men, to km21.5 for women)

We turn left onto a smaller road again, this is more of what we’re used to so far, rolling hills & lots of changes in direction. The wind may become an issue for pacing strategy, there really is very little consistency of direction, which should create a worthy winner, this is a proper time trial. We speed towards Stepps & the A80 once more, to return at ‘full gas’ to Glasgow for the finale.

5. Big Gear to Glasgow (to km 38.5km for men, to km31.5km for women)

This is where you’ll be hanging onto to the biggest gear your legs will manage, all the way to Glasgow along Cumbernauld Road & following the same route we climbed on the way out to Hogganfield Loch in segment 1.

This is going to be a very fast final segment, when we return on The Gallowgate in the city centre, we detour from our original route & turn left onto Moir Street, then onto London Road. This takes us into Glasgow Green, past the Peoples Palace & to the finish. I’m assuming we’re using the same finish as the road race (& last years British Champs) as it will be ‘dressed’ for the event anyway.

The Gist Of It

This is a very interesting course, not what we would have expected, especially since what was imagined to be the trial-run was near Stewarton last year. The road is constantly changing gradient & direction, there’s a really good mix of different types of roads. While the road race course showboats Glasgow landmarks, the time trial course shows a different side, it looks to have been decided more on sporting terms than blatant marketing. It’s a bold move, but to me, it looks like a very good choice, viewers around the world watching the events will get their glimpse of the mountains from afar, it could be good TV. I’m giving this a thumbs-up, although, I don’t really know if it’s the real course, we should find out in the near future, but it looks highly likely.

What’s certain is that a UK style motorway tester won’t win this, it looks like a route for a World Tour style rider. I’ll put my neck on the line here & go for a podium of Scotland, Wales & Australia. I’ve got a feeling David Millar & Gerraint Thomas will do very well in this type of course & event.

Additional Info: 1 – Another proposal HERE

Pista Delivery

chrishoyvelodrome

We’ve had over a year of the wonderful new Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, the facility has already had a major impact on the sport of cycling in Scotland. It’s succeeded in helping to develop our young talent & has been the catalyst for some very interesting clubs to appear on the scene. Track cycling, and cycling in general is on the up, the previously barren winter cycle race scene in Scotland is now incredibly rich, dominated by a hugely vibrant & well supported cyclo-cross race scene, plus track league’s & commercial events at our new indoor track cycling venue.

Facilities

Cyclo-cross has one major advantage for winter participation, you can find great courses all over the country. This is the big downside to track cycling, it requires a very expensive venue for year-round use, which if we look around the world, are mainly built for Olympics, World Championships, Commonwealth Games or other major events. An expensive facility requires a mixture of funding & political will, along with the much vaunted ‘legacy’ aspect, it needs the full package.

Another big issue is accessibility, a velodrome can’t be moved, we have a situation where we now need more than one indoor track in Scotland. More opportunities obviously exist for riders who live close to the centre point of training, coaching & facilities, while other talents from further away maybe never get the chance to develop at the same rate, or perhaps never even visit the venue. For some time, there has been talk of a replacement indoor track for Meadowbank, or another indoor velodrome within the University of Highlands & Islands in Inverness, these are completely unconfirmed & currently unfunded ideas, but could make track racing one of Scotland’s most successful & popular sports, with regional centres & the focal point of the Commonwealth Arena with its spectator seating & big event capabilities. If only Aberdeen Council realised that the whole Union Terrace Gardens debate could be fixed by filling it with a 250m indoor velodrome, it kind of looks like it would fit in there nicely to me & provide a great sporting legacy at a fraction of the cost of some ideas.

Public Perception

Like it or not, track cycling helped all this cycling popularity take place, in a way that other more internationally recognised areas of cycle sport couldn’t, by grabbing the attention of an uninformed British public. They were programmed to understand the transferable complexities of sports like Track & Field or F1, those viewing skills transferred ideally to track cycling for the general public, they came to understand it. The public are only now coming to terms with road racing, but I still wonder why downhill mountain bike racing hasn’t grabbed a much wider UK audience, viewers know all about those transferable sporting complexities from watching Ski Sunday for years, it’s made for TV (we’ll not go into how Graeme Obree’s position was as a direct result of watching Ski Sunday just yet).

Having a velodrome makes a big difference, it provides a centre piece for a sport like no other cycling venue can, as happened in Manchester. It can create it’s only mini centre of industry, with coaching, governance, racing, training, sports medicine, anti-doping, all under one roof, then expands into not just a track cycling facility, Manchester also now houses an indoor bmx track. We can safely say, that without the Manchester Velodrome there wouldn’t be a succesful British Cycling presence at the Worlds & Olympics, leading to no team Sky & still no British Tour de France win, we’d still have our ‘mavericks’, but there wouldn’t be the strength in-depth & guaranteed medals at every major track event. Imagine a scene that never had Hoy, Wiggins, Cav or Pendleton, the successful use of a venue led to all these riders competing at their best on the world stage, it led to high level sponsorship & the popularity of cycling to the masses in the UK. We’d all still be considered more of a bunch of oddballs & the car driving masses would view us in even less esteem than they currently do, without the figures of Hoy & Wiggins to cloud their judgement.

Users

Glasgow’s Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome is still in the development phase, with the Commonwealth Games taking understandable preference, take London for example, it’s still not open to the public after the 2012 Olympics & never was before, so we’re quite lucky really. There was initially a big question mark over public usage, with absolutely no previous data available for this specific type of facility in Scotland, the resulting demand was massive & perhaps unexpected by the authorities. The UK cycling boom was only just beginning when plans for this velodrome were written, so nobody really expected how it would take off, unless you were a cyclist & had seen the effect at Manchester, you knew all too well.

The accreditation slots were getting booked in crazy numbers, vastly more than expected, by most accounts the systems in place couldn’t handle it. By now it’s smoothed out a bit more & thousands of riders have gone through an accreditation process, to either get a taster of track racing or continue on through the accreditation to become a ‘qualified’ track rider, allowed to ride in competitive events  take part in open training sessions.

If you want to get involved, you can register for accreditation HERE. But calling the velodrome is also advised, as sometimes you’ll need to speak to somebody to get a slot.

Interesting Clubs

Traditionally, the Scottish track scene has been dominated by the ‘City’, the all-powerful City of Edinburgh Racing Club. They were also a major power & influence on the whole UK track scene, virtually every successful Scottish rider wore a white, black & blue skinsuit at some point. Their roster has included Olympic, World, Commonwealth & UK champions, to name a few you may have heard of, Chris Hoy, Craig MacLean, Jason Queely, James McCallum, Kate Cullen, Anthony ‘Jocko’ Stirrat, Charline Joiner, Jenny Davis, Peter Jacques, John Paul, Marco Librizzi, Bruce Croall etc. The club currently contains one of the biggest cycling talents Scotland may have ever seen, Katie Archibald (although we expect her to move to the Wiggle Honda team or similar in 2014), the current European Team Pursuit champion & looking like a potential world champion in 2014, possibly in more than one event. Their domination was centred around having the facility at Meadowbank available to them & having the support & drive to push themselves forward, without that they would never have reached those levels, let alone even existed. Another example of a facility shaping destiny, where would we be if Chris Hoy had taken up rowing instead if he didn’t have Meadowbank to train on?

We now have some opposition to that domination, we have some new clubs popping up, which can only improve the race scene for the better. It may mean that Scottish medals are now well out of the reach of the ‘clubman’, with well supported specific race clubs using more advanced coaching & securing track time, things will be getting faster & faster.

We have the ‘Glasgow Life Track Cycling Team’ making waves in the UK scene too. They came about in a conversation between Kevin Stewart & Jake Lovatt, Stewart being a young rider previously on British Cycling’s Olympic Development Programme & ex ‘City’ rider, Lovatt the Cycling Development Officer for Glasgow Life, also a cyclist & a coach. The motive, ‘find the next Chris Hoy’! A focus specifically on track sprint events, looking to identify & develop that talent, now leads them to progress the setup for 2014 with additional under 16-23 aged riders & a search for sponsorship to allow some travel to events outside the UK. This group of riders could really be ones to watch in the coming years, especially if track time is more available to them. A rider to watch is Jonathan Biggin, who putting out world-class ‘man-one’ times for the Team Sprint, remember that name, you may be hearing a lot more of it in the future, along with some of their other riders who are looking at Commonwealth selection.

Paisley Velo are another club making waves in the Scottish track scene. This one is a little different to those above, as it also caters for normal club riders alongside its star riders like Ben Peacock, with riders racing in all the categories at track league. ‘Big Ben’ is a pursuit specialist, after realising his talent in the Scottish time trialling scene, he’s quite wisely switched his focus to 4000m, I’ll be writing a separate blog on the Scottish riders who could meet the world-class qualification time for the Commonwealth Games, of which Peacock is one. They announced on twitter that a new signing is David Daniell, who you may have seen on TV in a GB skinsuit, posting kilo times almost on par with Sir Chris Hoy himself.

The Racers are a track cycling development team (@The_Racers on twitter), with a constant presence at the new velodrome. The experienced Allister Watson is at the centre of this, having helped developed riders such as Katie Archibald in the very recent past, we can expect plenty of fast young riders to come from this setup. Gavin Murty suddenly appeared & took a bronze medal in a highly competitive Scottish pursuit championship this year, so we’re not going to just see sprinters. Plenty of these riders have been involved in other sports, so don’t be surprised if there’s some sudden top performances from crossover athletes.

This is just a snapshot, the tip of the iceberg, but for those outside of track, you’re probably unaware of what’s going on. I’m not ignoring the vast amount of youth riders racing, I’ll be profiling them at a later point, lots going on.

The Jist Of It

A well-managed & supported venue with a development programme & governing body support can have a major impact on any sport in the country. The Chris Hoy velodrome is in its infancy, but the rider development opportunities have appeared from some clubs, those who have made a decisive effort & implement a plan of action. It’s a really exciting place to be, if we can secure some other indoor ‘training-type’ velodromes around Scotland in the next few years, we can gather talent & expertise in track cycling, as we’ve seen in the past, once the facilities are in place, the talent gets its chance.

The next few years are going to be incredible for the sport, which will feed into other disciplines in cycling. A big shiny venue helps the entire sport in time, not just track cycling, embrace it & have a go. The Pista has been delivered, a few years ago you had to eat it outdoors, now it’s consumed inside & the crust is absolutely stuffed.

I’m on Twitter HERE

Find me on Facebook HERE

You can email me directly on the ‘ABOUT‘ link above.

Quali’s for the Comi’s – Track

* Post British Track Champs update coming in early October.

Commonwealth Games Qualification for the Scottish Cycling team, that subject littered with controversy, accusations, and now more relevant as it’s going to be in Glasgow, the home territory will surely create one hell of a fight. It’s quite early, but the coming season is very important, most of the qualification will be done in 2013, so it’s important that we know how riders qualify.

In this blog post, I’ll just limit it to the track squad, as I assume the road & mtb teams will be more difficult to predict, also it’s likely to be based on some extrapolation of UCI points for determining how many riders we actually get, so that’s for another day & further research.

Ok, first up, what are the Commonwealth Games track events we’re talking about…

Women:

  • Sprint
  • Para-Sport Sprint B Tandem
  • 500m Time Trial
  • Para-Sport 1000m Time Trial B Tandem
  • 3000m Individual Pursuit
  • 25km Points Race
  • 10km Scratch Race

Men:

  • Sprint
  • Para-Sport Sprint B Tandem
  • Team Sprint
  • 1000m Time Trial
  • Par-Sport 1000m Time Trial B Tandem
  • Keirin
  • 4000m Individual Pursuit
  • 4000m Team Pursuit
  • 40km Points Race
  • 20km Scratch Race

As you can see there’s some disparity in the events for each gender, very different to the Olympics these days, but possibly the reason is partly due to there being very few female track riders from outside the UK countries, Australia & Canada, but would be very nice to have more events, nothing we can do for 2014 but hopefully later Commonwealth Games will have a bit more equality.

What’s interesting here is that we have no omnium or madison, but the kilo, 500m TT, Scratch, Points & Pursuits are medal events in their own right, harking back to ‘the good old days’ of Olympic competition, which is rumoured to be returning.

So lets get down to the qualification process, Scottish Cycling have released a document detailing the requirements, you can download that from the link below.

Scottish Cycling Selection Policy

So the technicalities are that riders have to set the times on a UCI approved 250m velodrome, with a temperature correction set to 24 degrees (don’t ask me how you work that out, must be a BC thing). The timed events are based on the 2011 worlds podium averages, then a certain percentage is added on for each event, so we get the following qualification times required for each event.

Men (timed events):

  • Individual Pursuit: 4:30.396
  • Team Pursuit: 4:08.175
  • Sprint (200m): 10.394s
  • Kilo: 1:02.889
  • Team Sprint Man 1 (lap time): 17.901s
  • Team Sprint Man 2 (lap time): 13.529s
  • Team Sprint Man 3 (lap time): 13.95s

Men (Scratch & Points):

  • Flying Start 3000m: 3:28
  • Flying Start 500m: 30s

Women (timed events):

  • Individual Pursuit: 3:41.581
  • Sprint (200m): 11.465s
  • 500m TT: 35.127

Women (Scratch & Points):

  • Flying Start 2000m: 2:29
  • Flying Start 500m: 32.3s

The Para times are all to be confirmed, but we can be pretty sure who’s going to be riding those events already, for the woman we expect Aileen McGlynn piloted by Fiona Duncan, then the men with Neil Fachie piloted by Craig MacLean.

Who’s going to be within a shout for these places then, there’s a lot of emerging talent in sprinting with Callum Skinner & John Paul, these guys are very likely to appear as part of the team sprint squad, alongside Chris Hoy. It’s possible that Craig MacLean could line up for a Commonwealth Games without affecting his appearance as a tandem pilot, but unlikely as there will be some timing issues for the events, so I’ll go with my initial 3 for the team sprint places. I’m also going to go for Sir Chris as the number 1 rider in the Keirin & not riding the Sprint (we may be allowed more than one on Commonwealth Games), then Skinner & Paul taking the other places in Keirin & Sprint. The kilo could be interesting, the only rider who been posting times close to the qualification, is Bruce Croall, but we don’t yet know what the other sprinters can do in an event that BC don’t encourage them to ride. Or will Sir Chris attempt to finish his career with a gold medal in the event that initially made him famous, could be an exciting finale to a glittering career?

In the endurance events, could we have a couple of domestic riders capable of getting close to that pursuit qualification time if they specifically trained for it, Silas Goldsworthy & Ben Peacock? Silas got a tremendous 4th place in his first attempt at the British Pursuit champs this year, here’s his write up on Veloveritas. If Peacock can transform his TT speed into the very different high rpm required for a pursuit, he could be getting close too.

Then previous bronze medallist in the Scratch race, with that Cav boy winning the gold, James McCallum is likely to be challenging for a place in the points & scratch. I’ve just noticed the Ross Edgar has signed for a road team in 2013, the story is here on Velo UK. I think this is a cunning plan to contest the bunch races at the Commonwealth Games, he knows he’s not quite quick enough anymore to make the Team Sprint squad, so this could be a very smart move on his part, I expect to see him there, he can race bunch events, he’s regularly ridden in track leagues in the past. With the new indoor track, we don’t really know who is going to emerge, the 2013 Scottish Track Champs are likely to be a goldmine of talent, should be very exciting ot see who emerges. Unfortunately I doubt we’ll have a team pursuit team representing Scotland, the resources needed for that are huge just in track booking terms to be able to compete with the Aussies, ,Kiwi’s, English (basically the GB squad) and a likely strong team from Wales. So that needs another 4 years to develop.

As for the ladies, we have sprinter Jenny Davis, but nobody else who’s close to posting the qualification times required. Then in the bunch races theres Charline Joiner, Eileen Roe & Kayleigh Brogan, all very talented endurance riders who will surely be getting places in the Games at Glasgow. I think there’s a good chance of getting a medal with this group of riders, perhaps more likely than in the men’s endurance events? Again, there’s scope for some more talent to appear over the coming year with the Chris Hoy velodrome, so another interesting year ahead on the boards.

p.s. I apologise if I’ve missed anybody obvious in this, let me know and I’ll post some updates as time gets closer to selection.

Sonic Youth

*Update01: Event Programme added.

The British Inter Regional Youth Track Championships are on THIS WEEKEND (24th to 26th Aug 2013) at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, more importantly they’re free to watch for spectators! Here we’ll see each British Cycling ‘Region’ selecting riders to race against the other regions & nationalities.

The events should be thrilling for cycling fans, not just for the sheer venom & crowd pleasing tactics that some of our youthful racers will be putting on display, but these are the stars of the future. You’ll be witnessing riders who WILL be in the Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games & World Championships in the future. I’d go as far as saying that some of these riders could prove to be even more talented than our current crop of medal winners, the identification of talent at a young age & the sheer volume of riders wanting to have a go means the talent pool is much greater than in years past.

It’s also one of only a few opportunities these days for Scottish fans to cheer on riders racing in Scotland team kit, these kids need your support, they are the future of the sport & your support could provide them with that extra impetus to perform & impress the national selectors, it could kick-start a glorious career. Here’s your chance to say you were there.

Racing for Scotland are the following riders (names thanks to @LeighMarshall79 on twitter, who runs the Filles a Velo website)

  • Emma Borthwick :Edinburgh RC
  • Katie McLean : Johnstone Wheelers CC
  • Rhona Callander :Stirling Bike Club
  • Stuart Balfour :Ronde – Bicycle Outfitters
  • Rhys Donnelly : Glasgow Riderz
  • Ben Forsyth :Edinburgh RC
  • Jack Carlin : Team Thomsons Cycles

Events Programme:

Saturday (Session 1) : Starting @ 11am

  • Girls Sprint Qualifying
  • Boys Sprint Qualifying
  • Girls Scratch Race
  • Boys Scratch Race
  • Girls Sprint 1st Round
  • Boys Sprint 1st Round

Saturday (Session 2) : Starting @ 15:00

  • Girls Sprint Semi Final
  • Boys sprint Semi Final
  • Girls Points Race
  • Boys Points Race
  • Girls Sprint Final
  • Boys Sprint Final

Sunday (Session 3) : Starting @ 09:00

  • Girls Keirin 1st Round
  • Boys Keirin 1st Round
  • Girls Pursuit Qualifying
  • Boys Pursuit Qualifying
  • Girls Keirin Semi Final
  • Girls Pursuit Final
  • Boys Pursuit Final
  • Girls Keirin Final
  • Boys Keirin Final

Sunday (Session 4) : Starting @ 15:00

  • Girls 500m TT
  • Boys 500m TT
  • Girls Madison
  • Boys Madison

Monday (Session 5) : Starting @ 09:00

  • Girls Team Sprint Qualifying
  • Boys Team Sprint Qualifying
  • Girls Team Sprint Final
  • Boys Team Sprint Final

Monday (Session 6) : Starting @ 12:00

  • Girls Team Pursuit Qualifying
  • Boys Team Pursuit Qualifying
  • Girls Team Pursuit Final
  • Boys Team Pursuit Final
  • Victory Ceremony

A fantastic line-up of events for youth riders to take part in. More updates to follow…..

Information can be found on the Glasgow Life website HERE. Racing is on 9am to 5pm each day, parking is very limited, so you may not get parked in the velodrome car park. It looks like results will appear HERE on the Scottish Cycling website.

This is as much information as I could find, if anybody has any more info please pass it on, these events should have a lot more attention than they currently attract. Thanks to Martin Harris for the events.

I’m on Twitter HERE

Find me on Facebook HERE

You can email me directly on the ‘ABOUT‘ link above.

The Brit Awards & Scots Metallurgy?

Tomorrow British Road Race Championships in Glasgow are gong to be incredibly tough, there’s a large number of world-class riders in both races. Our home-grown riders are going to have to pull off an extraordinary ride, plus have lots of luck on their sides to sneak near a podium. A circuit such as this, with plenty of crunch points, can mean that if there’s a group left at the finish with some of our home-grown riders in it, anything could happen. The men’s race is probably going to be an impossible task to podium for any domestic pro, but our riders can still pull off an incredible ride. The women’s race is likely to be more level, with the top riders not having such an extensive international calendar to ride, so the difference should be less.

The Ladies

Who are the Scots?

  • Jane Barr : Breast Cancer Care Cycling Team
  • Anne Ewing : Breast Cancer Care Cycling Team
  • Eileen Roe : Breast Cancer Care Cycling Team
  • Laura Murray : Breast Cancer Care Cycling Team
  • Katie Archibald : City of Edinburgh RC
  • Claire Martin : Edinburgh RC
  • Jennifer Taylor : Equipe Velo Ecosse/Montpeliers
  • Julie Erskine : Granite City RT
  • Charline Joiner : MG-Maxifuel Pro Cycling
  • Gemma Neill : Pedal Power RT
  • Anda-Jay Burgess : Sandy Wallace Cycles
  • Claire Thomas : Unattached

The Scots quartet from the Breast Cancer Care Team are all very strong riders, but as I’ve suggested on Twitter, I think Eileen Roe is going to thrive in the rainy & slippy conditions tomorrow. A strong cyclo-cross rider, skilled in many disciplines & able to handle a bike in slippery conditions, Belgian sprint finishes & icy cross races, she should be able to use less energy during the race to hold position, I’m tipping her for a great ride tomorrow, top Scot on this course, in these conditions. The full podium from the Scottish champs in May will be here, with champ Jennifer Taylor & Julie Erskine riding. I’ll be really interested to see how Katie Archibald gets on, she seems like a robust rider, but potentially lacking some road racing experience, this race should help, but she will be fast & able to handle pace changes, which this course will throw up relentlessly. Charlene Joiner is another to watch, she’s been improving her road racing recently from her track background, her turn of speed in the finish could surprise others, but she has to get there first. The race will be invaluable for next years Commonwealth Games for these riders, not just for the course, but also for experiencing racing in front of large crowds, which domestic based riders will rarely have seen.

The Gents

Who are the Scots?

  • Michael Nicolson : Doltcini Flanders
  • Alex Coutts : Herbalife-Leisure Lakes Bikes.com
  • Gary Hand : Herbalife-Leisure Lakes Bikes.com
  • Robert Hassan : Ibaigane Opel
  • David Lines : MG-Maxifuel Pro Cycling
  • Andrew Fenn : Omega-Pharma – Quickstep
  • James McCallum : Rapha Condor JLT
  • Scott McCrossan : Rock to Roll Cycles Ltd
  • Ross Edgar : Team IG – Sigma Sport
  • Evan Oliphant : Team Raleigh
  • Robert Wardell : Trek UK
  • *Update – Craig Adams : GJS Cruise Racing (added from reserve list)
  • *Update – Andrew Whitehall : Equipe Velo Ecosse/Montpeliers (added from reserve list)
  • *Update – Peter Hale : GJS Cruise Racing (added from reserve list)

We also have a few other Scots who you can also adopt, but could ride for other parts of the UK if they choose, so I’ll not label them if they perhaps don’t want labelled. Ali Rutherford (Wheelbase/Altura/MGD) has ridden the Commie Games for Scotland previously & was on the podium at the Scottish road champs last year, his dad Jimmy, may be known to many of you. David Millar (Garmin Sharp), Malta born with a Scottish father, lived as a toddler in Forres, a teenager in Hong Kong and then global jetsetter, will be fiercely named as a true Scotsman if he gets a podium. Our newly adopted Scotsman, but not quite officially yet as he’s not quite lived in Scotland long enough, is Ben Greenwood (Team Hope Factory Racing), the popular rider who recently rode on a Scottish national team at the Ras. Don’t be surprised if he’s quite rightly one of us in the Commonwealth Games next year.

It’s unlikely the Scots will ride as a team, they’re pretty much fragmented across a wide variety of teams of different standings, although you may find a few lone wolves clubbing together to try to get something out of the race. Recent Scottish champ Gary Hand is undoubtably in form, but part of a strong team, so he may be involved in getting a result for one of them, the same with the other Scottish champs podium riders James McCallum & David Lines. McCallum has been racing visibly up front in a large number of televised criterium races recently, so his form is there, but perhaps not had time to gain the endurance for an event of this length after running about the UK for the last few weeks. Uber talent Hassan is an unknown, he’s been racing in the Basque country, the prolonged climbing in those races may not be ideal preparation for this type of event. Oliphant & Nicholson could do great rides too, Oliphant always has form, but again is racing with an ambitious Raleigh Team who will be wanting a big result. Nicholson could be a surprise to many, his diet of racing in Belgium isn’t too dissimilar from the style of course here, he has no team commitments either, so one to watch. Rab Wardell, the mountain biker is a classy road rider too, he’s been riding the world MTB circuit, including World Cup events. So not to be sniffed at & if you look at the amount of top-level road riders who have come from that scene and started performing in Grant Tours & Classics, Wardell should have some form & his social media shows he’s been taking the course preparation quite seriously.

We have two riders from the top-level teams, Millar & Fenn, I’ve got a hunch on Fenn. His teammate Cavendish is riding, so if Cav can force 2 or 3 Sky riders to destroy themselves early on to try & remove Cav, then the race gets onto a more even footing & Sky’s strength is diminished. So don’t be surprised if Fenn is left on his own by half way & the Omega Pharma quick-Step boys will be having a smile. Millar is always good, but I really don’t think it’s the course for him, if there’s a chance he gets to ride the Tour, he’ll also be riding on the more cautious side.

As you know from Champing At The Brits, I’m tipping Yorkshireman Adam Blythe for the win, after suffering through the Giro & having a rider of the quality of Cummings in support.

Follow me on Twitter.

Champing at the Brits

On June 23rd 2013, they’re only going & shutting down Glasgow City Centre for what will be a fantastic event, the British Cycling Road Race Championships!

The Courses

Fellow Scottish blogger @owenp has put up some information regarding the course HERE. The road race will be held on a 14.2km city centre course, the men will race 13 laps, the women 8 laps. However, the time trial will not be city centre based, but instead held near Stewarton, at first thought this seems a huge contrast in priorities of RR v TT, but read on.

The main purpose of hosting this years British champs as far as Glasgow Life are concerned, is to provide a test run for the main event, the 2014 Commonwealth Games. So with the huge expense of shutting down a major city centre, it’s no surprise that they are doing if for one day only in 2013. They’ll get all the info they need for the Commonwealths from this, there’s no need to use it for the time trial too. Based on this I’d expect the Commonwealth Games time trial to also be city centre based, perhaps not using the short sharp inclines from the road race course, but you never know. I actually think this is a very good plan that’s been set out here, it shows a fair amount of forethought and to hold the British Road Race Championships on a city centre closed circuit is a bold statement of intent, have the champs ever even been run on fully closed roads before on mainland UK, I’m not sure they have since the Isle of Man a good few years ago.

RR Course map click HERE.

TT Course map click HERE.

On the above assumptions, I’m not going to dwell too much on the TT, but concentrate more on the showpiece event, the men’s road race. As you can see from the map, the race start & finish is in Glasgow Green, which has also hosted a stage finish of the Tour of Britain. There’s some use of the pedestrianized shopping areas, like Argyle Street & Buchanan Street, but not the pedestrianized section of Sauchiehall Street, it joins on the road section of that street for obvious reasons, the permanent location of some serious obstacles would take a bit of moving. This takes it right into the heart of the city, the most visited streets, the places everybody can recognise on TV, it will also show Glasgow’s huge shopping areas to all the TV viewers, don’t forget that this is also a huge marketing opportunity that has been taken full advantage of by the hosts. We travel up & over to the West End, with no major climbs, but certainly some strength sapping inclines which are repeated for several hours, this isn’t an easy city centre course, as any rider trying to hit the sequence of lights without them changing red on St Vincent Street will attest, it takes lots of watts, this race will be gunning it.

Through Kelvingrove Park & then up again to Glasgow University, we can expect this will also be showing Glasgow in a very good light, there will be some great shots from here. Through to Byres Road, where we can expect visitors & clubmen enjoying a bit of cafe culture & some nice pubs (get your club ‘day out’ organised, you’ve plenty of options on this course for a bevvy!). We then ride uphill yet again, to Gibson Street, down & up to Park Circus, more rolling roads until we hit Montrose Street, which is a very steep little climb, should become quite painful after a few laps. This is no easy circuit, it’s worthy of a Championship, calls from some quarters of it going up the Crow are misguided, that’s too far from the finish to make much of a difference, the pro’s go up that in the big ring and really wouldn’t impact race to the extent some think, it’s a Tour cat 4 or at best a low-level cat 3.

Riders & Teams

Sky are the obvious favourites, if they field a full complement of British riders, they’ll have Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome, Gerraint Thomas, Peter Kennaugh, Ian Stannard, Josh Edmonson, Luke Rowe, Ben Swift, Jonathan Tiernan-Locke, then they’ll be in an incredibly strong position. But with that strength comes responsibility, it will be deemed to be up to them to remove Mark Cavendish from the running, which isn’t going to be easy on a course like this, Cav can survive very well on short steep climbs. This will likely result in a very aggressive race, with Cav’s only Omega-Pharma Quick-Step team mate being Scotsman Andrew Fenn. Elsewhere in the top ranked UCI Pro Teams, we have BMC with Steve Cummings & my top tip for this race, Adam Blythe, Garmin has only David Millar & Movistar just Alex Dowsett. So a potential threat is going to come from some of the UCI Pro Continental teams, with Team Netapp Endura fielding Russell Downing, Jonny McEvoy, Eric Rowsell & Scott Thwaites. The mostly British based UCI Continental teams like Raleigh, Rapha etc, all have riders capable of pulling off a great result, but it will take a huge bit of luck to outmaneuver the European based riders, it’s highly likely the winner will come from a UCI Pro Team. My hunch on Blythe, is based on the nature of this course & the fact that he is a rider who just needs that one break, it’s going to happen somewhere & it could be in Glasgow, the nature of the course being technical can also suit his bike handling skills, I’m still going for him regardless of his recent bad luck in races. As far as Scottish riders go, old favourites Evan Oliphant & James McCallum will surely be going well and looking for opportunities (Oliphant has just won the first event in the UK road race series, the Premier Calendar), but don’t underestimate Michael Nicholson, this circuit should suit the kind of racing he’s used to in Belgium, I expect he’ll do an impressive ride.

All the teams will let Sky do the donkey work initially, at least that’s what should happen, so expect to see some domestic teams getting riders in a break early on and then seeing Sky rip it to pieces, but perhaps leaving themselves open to a late assault once their numbers are depleted. We can expect their particular skills to be based on riding flat-out for 40mins + on French mountains, so probably not ideally suited to a technical ‘jumpy’ race with plenty of corners and lots of short ascents. Watch all the other favourites sit back and let the super team take control, by the time you’re on your 4th pint, the action should be kicking off and you can stick your head out of the pub to see what’s happening. We’ll probably not see Wiggins & Froome taking to active a roll at the sharp end, fearing a mishap for the Tour de France, so their focus may be more towards their aggressive sprinter types, like Rowe & Swift. I expect to see hard man sprinters getting podium places, so take your pick, Blythe, Rowe, Swift, Downing, Fenn, etc, but I do expect Cav not to be there, I don’t know how they’ll do it, but failing to eject him from the selection is leaving only one possibility, it’ll be a fast race.

Conclusion

If you think this is a non event, miss it at your peril, there’s household names racing on our home streets. Whether or not your one of the ‘glorified criterium’ brigade, or other doubters, you really need to get yourself out on that course & support an event of this stature, it’s going to incredible to watch. I’ll be there, hopefully on a sunny day with a pint in my hand from a suitably good vantage point, if I manage to find one, there’s absolutely no way I’m publishing where it is. Some things we need to keep to ourselves & make sure there’s not too big a queue at the bar. Viva the Champs.

Fixing time trials

We’re in for a tumultuous few years in cycle racing in Scotland, misconceptions will be addressed, talents who may have previously slipped through will be recognised & more importantly, we’ll be getting our heads kicked in by first year juniors from now on. The balance of power is going to change, moving away from super strong veterans, it will take 4 to 5 years, buts it’s already happening, even in your local time trial.

Back when I were a lad…

I wrote a piece on an event called the Corrieri Classic (promoted by Stirling Bike Club), not because I’m particularly interested in imperial standard distance flat time trials, I wrote the piece because these types of events are about to become more important in the Scottish cycling scene. Much more important than the ’25’, which was perceived as the blue riband event in time trialling by the older generation & the myth perpetuated by 80’s & 90’s Cycling Weekly (The Comic).

It used to be, you joined a club & somebody asked you “what’s your time for a ten?”, if you looked at all ‘handy’. It was assumed you had ridden a 10 mile time trial, and that you’d have a time, from that they would size you up for a pasting on the road or avoid “putting a wheel on you” during a ride if you were too fast. All this based on a time, from unknown weather conditions on an unknown course, hardly a scientific appraisal of somebody’s ability. If you consider some former top Scottish road riders from the 90’s, such as the Johnstone Wheelers ex members Brian Smith & Drew Wilson, ask them what their time for a ten is, I doubt they would even have ridden one, it had by that point become irrelevant to the higher achievers’ in Scottish racing.

These days, time trials are very rarely visited by the majority of road & track riders, time trialing had traditionally been part of your arsenal for road racing in particular, anybody with any ambition on the road competed in time trials, they were directly relating to long solo breaks and also great training. But due to advances in aerodynamics and different bikes being used in time trials, largely from everybody realising the time gain of tri-bars from the 1989 Tour de France, where Greg LeMond used aero advances to overturn a  50 second deficit on Laurent Fignon in the final time trial, into an 8 second advantage on GC. Plus arguably even earlier from riders like Francesco Moser who took aerodynamics to an extreme, time trialling was steadily becoming a different sport. This is more evident in Scotland & the rest of the UK than anywhere else, since the early 90’s ‘The Comic’ was filled with pictures of riders racing on extreme positions, away from traditional drop bars and often riding small front wheels on the now banned ‘Lo-Pro’ bikes (now its current fashion is reporting on sportives), this reduced the crossover effect, it wasn’t a traditional road position and aero cost money. Time trialling lost its relevance to other forms of racing when the bikes changed in the early 90’s, this is going to change over time, especially for the shorter tests.

The road back

The Scottish track scene has been dominated for a number of years by some incredible sprint talents, developed almost solely through Meadowbank & ‘The City’ who have a special talent for identifying talented riders and giving them a pathway to greatness (The 2012 Scottish Keirin Championships looked like a club championship, all six riders in the final were City of Edinburgh!). There have been a few notable endurance talents developed along the way through the same route, along with some British medals, but generally, they’ve been creating top class sprinters for a very long time.

We now have a method of identifying promising endurance talents too, namely, the Glasgow Track League. As with most track leagues across the UK, it’s currently not particularly well promoted or advertised, but if you scour the results on the Scottish Cycling website, you’ll see some very interesting names pop up. I went to have a look one evening, aside from the eternal youth and competitiveness of veteran riders like Graham McGarrity who were getting stuck in, the most aggressive displays were from the younger riders, they were knocking lumps out of each other and nobody else was capable of testing themselves to these extents. They also have a very classy measurement system, if James McCallum & Evan Oliphant were to both turn up at track league, you can expect fireworks, the young guys are out to prove a point by the looks of it. So Gus Gillies, Mark Stewart, David Whitehall, Greg Brown, etc, etc, you guys are the catalyst to create something very special.

What’s the point?

So this gets me to the actual point, the crossover between disciplines and why it’s more important these days. Classy pursuiters & regular track riders like Silas Goldsworthy & Ben Peacock, are now exchanging punches at a ’10’, with another regular convert to track league & potential pursuiter Alan Thomson also in the mix. It turned out that Goldsworthy recorded a 21:06, with Peacock & Thomson tied in 2nd with 21:21. The local ’10’ can easily become a testing ground for better bike positions & used to help train muscle adaptation to a new, more-aero position. How does this work?

Let’s get on with the assumptions….

Well (sorry, going to get all technical now), consider power outputs. The riders are all different sizes & shapes, so we’ll take a simplistic viewpoint on this and ‘pretend’ that they all weigh about 75kg & that they are all similar body shapes.

Let’s assume it takes 340 watts of power to ride the course in 21:06 (45.5 kmh). If that same rider was to ride the same course, in the same conditions in 21:21 (45.0 kmh), then they would have to produce 328 watts of power. So for the 2nd placed riders to beat the first placed rider, we can deduce that they would either have to train to produce between 3% to 4% more power to get on terms or not require to produce that extra power through better aerodynamics. Now here’s the important bit, it’s probably much easier to reduce the aerodynamic drag requirement by 12 watts to also get on terms. So as you can see, the margins of difference are very small, with those slight changes actually making all the difference. It’s puts into perspective Team Sky’s much mocked ‘marginal gains’ philosophy, which accumulates very small percentage gains and changes them into race winning gains by acquiring hundreds of them. So we can also deduce that even in the reality of an early morning Sunday ’10’, these technicalities & attention to detail could make the difference between winning & losing, even in a club ’10’.

Take this into consideration. Would some work on some random details, like your tri-bar position, taping your number down, riding removable valves in your deep section rim & taping the holes, making sure your aero helmet fin is flat to your back, spending your money on the best front wheel you can afford rather than the disc rear wheel that looks better but turns in turbulent air, would this all add up to a 3% gain, that’s up to you to decide. There are also some truly shocking un-aero aero positions out there too, everybody should stick a mirror next to their turbo trainer just once and see what we all see in those ghastly photos, you’ll be shocked too, you don’t look like Tejay Van Garderen.

What does this mean?

A local ’10’ could become a less expensive testing ground for ambitious amateur pursuit riders looking to tweak their aero advantage against other riders in a similar position. We could see a big revival in the quality of fields in time trial events, with one of the effects of an indoor velodrome (as in other regions where one has been acquired), will be evident across other disciplines, with younger competitive riders also taking part. So consider £10 time trial entry versus several hundred £ to hire an indoor velodrome, you’ll see the smart £10 being spent on developing aero advances and riders getting to a level where they can compete without having to fork out cash on venue hire, while riding the same bike they pursuit on, with a front brake attached. Fixed gear is going to get more popular again in your local ’10’.

Corrieri, Gold & Peacocks.

Sunday sees one of the early season 10 mile time trials take place, a popular showdown event near Stirling, with my current preoccupation with Commonwealth qualifying, I’ve got to the point I’m now interested in a time trial!

The Corrieri Classic

This Sunday will be very cold on the flat Forth Valley west of Stirling, perhaps just over freezing for the later riders, but they’ll be blessed with little or no wind, an ideal opportunity for some to attach a front brake to a pursuit bike, choose wisely & ride a single fixed gear for 4 consecutive pursuits.
The Stirling Bike Club Corrieri Classic is sponsored by Corrieri’s cafe at Causewayhead just north of Stirling, with a cycling theme & jerseys placed around the walls, many non-locals will be familiar with it as clubs from Glasgow, Fife & other areas use it as a refuel point on long Sunday rides.

Rider Interest

It’s not often a flat time trial can prove significant to my interest, but we have at least two outstanding riders taking part, the mountain like Ben Peacock & the super-smooth Silas Goldsworthy, outstanding because in my opinion both could break the Individual Pursuit qualifying time set for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Hopefully we’ll have a bit of healthy rivalry for the coming months, we can only dream of an Obree V Boardman duel, but there is a hint of this with two very different riders who could produce very similar times.
Goldsworthy performed fantastically well at the 2012 British track championships, taking a close 4th place in the Pursuit, recording a time of 4:37. Peacock, a relative newcomer to bike racing recorded a 4:46 at his first attempt in the British championships in 2011. When we roll onto the Scottish championships last year, Peacock took the title over Goldsworthy in the rescheduled event at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome. Both have some way to go in order to reach the qualifying time of 4:30, it’s likely going to take some commitment to the event to get near those times, but what we can see is the potential of two riders who are ‘relatively’ new to the discipline, there should be some room for improvement.
Peacock appears to use brute force to turn the pedals, an incredibly strong rider who could probably use some aerodynamic help without compromising his power, Goldsworthy is likely the more ‘classic’ roadman pursuiter type, coached by Masters pursuit champion Peter Ettles, I have no idea who coaches Peacock.

The Others

Lets not forget that Scotland has some rising talents, some soon to be discovered crossover talents & plenty of well established talents. I’m possibly overlooking the actual results of this particular event, more looking at what it throws up into the mix. Physiologically a ’10’ is a crossing point, an event where a track rider, a road rider & a time trialist can all perform well, so we often see a battle royale at the top of the table, plus some other minor skirmishes. I’m disappointed that the Spider V Beast of the Valley rivalry is not happening here, it appears that the Spider is wimping out of this one (if you don’t know about this, its probably best to not get involved).
It will be interesting to see what effect, if any, riding some recent track leagues has had on riders such as Alan Thomson, who is already one of the top time trialists, it can surely only help his speed and provide some intensity before the normal road season begins. An interesting year ahead for many riders.

What it means

Far from the 27 degree heat of the velodrome, this will only show us some latent form in freezing conditions, not a genuine measure of pursuit ability. The Commonweath time trial should be around 40km, the pursuit 4km, so a ’10’ is really a top riders no mans land, more of a clubmans bragging ground. But we may see some intentions displayed, especially if the contenders wheel out the fixed gears. I’ll be paying close attention to who has been tweaking their time trial position & who is taking their pursuit bike seriously, so please take lots of photos & we’ll revisit after the event with some conclusions.

Very Long Cycles

Normally, the year before a Commonwealth Games in Scotland has a bit more of a competitive feel to the top end of the domestic racing scene than the other 3 years, with riders hoping to gain selection for their country in the following years Commonwealth Games, which this time starts at home, in Glasgow. Usually in the actual year of the Games things calm down as selection by this point is more or less decided, this year it feels even more competitive than the usual build-up, there’s a fair buzz and the racing has barely even started.
 
The Commonwealth-Cycle V The Olympic-Cycle

We often hear Dave Brailsford, head honcho of Team GB & Team Sky always talking about ‘The Olympic Cycle’, this highlights why Team GB get their funding, the National Lottery funds them primarily just for getting Olympic Medals. This results in a public feel-good-factor and keeps the public happy once every four years, everybody glad that our country is once again performing on an international stage, it makes us feel important & it brings everybody together against a common enemy, i.e. everybody else. Olympic performance has a measurable effect on the psyche of a nation, every government holds Olympic success in high esteem for this reason, it takes the pressure off other pressing (or embarrassing) matters and calls for unity behind a nation, while putting sportsmen & women on a pedestal while politicians skulk around in the half-light, knowing fine well that any scandals will be minimised while the Olympics are underway. So for whatever untoward reasons those in power may have to keep us happy, we do benefit from that ‘Olympic Feeling’, we do feel better, we do unite for Team GB, even the most nationalist minded Scots can be seen shouting at Laura Trott in a Devil, we love it.
The Commonwealth Games is inevitably on a lower rung than the Olympics, but to those nations in the UK outside of the one with the largest population base (who often look on Team GB as Team England anyway), it gives everybody else a chance to have some international representation in their favourite sports from athletes who often don’t get the chance to perform on a world-class stage. We have very few sports where Scotland is represented in world championship type competitions, mainly due to some sporting governing bodies which somehow have escaped being amalgamated into a GB or UK bodies. Some minority ones that come to mind are a successful curling team which regularly performs on an international stage but competes as GB in the Winter Olympics, Cricket, Darts, and a lowly ranked football team which brings more misery than rapture.
The above explains some of the reasons for a major difference between the priorities some riders have in these two very different Olympic & Commonwealth Cycles. For riders involved in the Olympic Cycle & the GB Team, the Commonwealths will be just one stepping stone along the way to Olympic selection, from a British Cycling coaching point of view it’s likely seen as an inconvenient blip in Olympic preparation, which could absorb a huge amount of limited funding for little reward towards the main goal, Olympic medals. Olympic places are qualified by World Championships & World Cups on the track, so to look at it from a British Cycling perspective & removing all emotion, the Commonwealths are not important other than perhaps a guide to see what the Aussies are up to (as far as the management go, the riders probably have different views).

Can we perform with home-grown talent?

A Commonwealth cycle is therefore a much lower funded endeavour all round, with the chance than the home nations can come up with comparable preparation & support for some of the athletes who just missed out on Team GB selection for a multitude of reasons, injury, career, family, location, luck etc, these individuals can take a step up and prove themselves on a slightly more level playing field. I’m not saying that the Commonwealth Scottish cyclists have coaching, equipment & medical support that is equal to that of riders in a final year in an Olympic cycle, but there is definitely more chance of competing against the might of a UK funded professional squad, which has other priorities,. These types of performances don’t go unnoticed internationally, so there really is everything to play for from our homegrown talents, riders like James McCallum have used a Commonwealth medal (bronze medal with Cav taking Gold) as a stepping stone to a career as a professional cyclist, previously he was working as a nurse while training, a huge undertaking. This example really shows the possibilities that talented & driven riders, along with some high quality coaching & support from unsung workhorses like Scottish Cycling’s performance coach Graeme Herd can allow our riders to transform into high performers at the Commonwealth Games.

Who are all these talented & driven riders?

The normal Scottish culture is to assume that our riders have as much chance of success in the Commonwealth Games as the Panda’s in Edinburgh Zoo have of mating. I intend to break that idea you’re fighting to believe by showing you who’s performing or preparing to perform at Glasgow 2014. The talent pool in Scotland has always been there, it really looks like we’ll be sending a very strong squad in all disciplines to Glasgow next year, with current developments we should be in an even better position in 2018.

I’ll try to do a series or blogs on the different disciplines, but with the blossoming Breast Cancer Care women’s team harvesting some of the best road talent in Scotland, mountain biking brimming with riders such as Lee Craigie, Katy Winton, Gareth Montgomerie, Rab Wardell, Kenta Gallacher, Dave Henderson, Grant Ferguson & Rob Friel, track racing progressing at an incredible rate with the new Sir Chris Hoy velodrome & mens road talent placed in top British UCI registered teams, things will be very competitive during 2013.

There’s no doubt that some riders will appear throughout the coming season, we have the talent, we have a written pathway for how to gain selection, it’s a good year to be blogging. I’m a volunteer at the Commonwealth Games, seemingly I already have a job allocated, so hopefully I’ll also be there to give an inside & anonymous look at how the Games are progressing.

https://spokeydokeyblog.wordpress.com/2012/12/21/qualis-for-the-comis-track/