Category Archives: Riders

Alex Coutts, Team RTS Racing

Scottish rider Alex Coutts is riding the 2012 season with RTS Racing in the far east and often with this blog, posting a piece is a case of finding out about a rider, past or present, and sharing it with the readers. Alex is one who I did not know much about before now.

Alex riding grass track alongside Evan Oliphant on a foray back home.
image: Martin Steele

The Veloveritas site, formerly Veloresults has been on the case with an interview in 2010, where I learnt he has been a pro with Continental teams since 2002.

He has spent time racing in Belgium, France and Italy, most recently for Giant Kenda Pro Cycling – you can read some of his diaries going back through the past few years on a blog section of his shop site. Last year he opened a cycle shop in Burntisland in Fife.

This year he is with RTS Racing– his new team is sponsored by RTS Carbon, a frameset and wheel manufacturer established in Spain in 2005, but which has a far-eastern focus and is owned by Giant Asia’s manager. The company sells its own frames and bikes, made in the same factory as Giant.

He rode the Tour de Langkawi, a 10-day, UCI 2.HC stage race in Malaysia. With RTS Racing being a Tiawanese team, this is clearly a big goal for them.

Although there is only one major climbing stage, the day to Genting Highlands, the Tour’s length at 10 stages, the tropical heat and the level of competition make this a tough race.

As of today, Alex was 44th on GC at 15 minutes, with his Australian teammate Jai Crawford 13th at 5 minutes. The top 2 spots are occupied by Jose Serpa and Jose Rujano, a Colombian and a Venezuaelan for the Androni Giocattoli team.

Yesterday teammate Chin Lung Huang got into a break of 5, who were only allowed a short lead by Farnese Vini, for whom Andrea Guardini leads the points classification, and it came down to a sprint finish which seems customary for this race.

The team’s other events are in the Middle East and Far East with the Tours of Qinghai Lake (UCI 2.HC) and Tour of China (UCI 2.1) stage races coming in July and September.

Alex also started the Tour of Oman, one of the tune-up races for the Spring Classics, which sees lots of World Tour riders sharpening up the legs for Belgium and Northern France. He completed the 6-stage race 59th on GC at 10 minutes. It was won by Slovakian Peter Velits of Omega Pharma-Quickstep, and the race saw sprint duels between Greipel, Kittel and Sagan, who won the points overall.

Veloveritas/Veloresults have the professionally produced pieces if you want to read up on Alex- writers Martin Williamson, Ed Hood and Al Hamilton have some good pieces here:
Riding with Flanders- 2007

In Asia- 2008

Tour of Thailand winner

Andy Macleod: bouncing back

In “Superman“, I looked at Andy Macleod’s background in dirt jumping and downhill before a nasty accident robbed him of a leg in March 2011.

This post is about his amazingly quick return to mobility: on 16 July he was back on his mountain bike* and I met him in a café a couple of weeks ago to find out more. (*83 likes and 40 comments on facebook)

In person, Andy exudes the positivity and enthusiasm I expected. His dreads add to his chilled-out vibe, but he isn’t a dozy hippy- he has a relaxed yet focused attitude: determined not to let his accident and disability hold him back, but also realistic and stoic about it. 19 year old Andy is back on his feet and getting on with life.

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Andy Fenn, Tour of Britain and beyond

I noticed a few shots of Andy Fenn in the Tour of Britain time trial for An Post, taken by Nick from Vulpine CC. It’s a blog for now, but soon to be a clothing brand. Thanks to Nick for letting me use the pics.

Andy was being referred to as a sprinter by the commentators in the ToB, and took 3rd in the U23 worlds road race. Cycling Weekly has more on that. Although I haven’t seen him race there seems more to his game than the fast finish- he is a junior Paris-Roubaix winner and the Northern Classics are a stated aim.

There were a few sniffy remarks from down south about him not being a ‘real Scot’- he was born down South and qualifies for Scotland through his mother. He competed for Scotland in the Commonwealth Games though, so one presumes he feels more than a small amount of affinity for the country!

I did a blog post on him earlier this year and I enjoy following the progress of a rider like Fenn who is less-well known amongst the masses. Thanks to Velo Club Don Logan podcast for giving that post a mention.

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Video interview with John Paul

Scottish cycling coach Mark Young interviews John Paul, who has had great success this year with gold medals at the National, European and World track championships.

John recounts how he beat a junior world record holder to win the European sprint title and then his route to taking the World championship.

What strikes me here is an articulate, intelligent and focused young man who is level headed and knows what he has to do to win. All that may sound like a cliché but it certainly feels like we will be seeing more of this Scottish World Champion in the future. Let’s say that again: a Scottish World Champion.

Mark Young on twitter
Mark’s other cycling videos and interviews
An interview I did with Mark Young last year

Steve McCaw adds indoor records to his palmarès

An update on Steve McCaw’s track success.

I was pleased with the reaction to my post on Steve’s British vets’ hour record– he kindly sent me several emails that resulted in a full interview blog post that people seemed to appreciate.

So I was happy to hear he has gone on to break the indoor Vets’ 5, 10 and 20km, 5 and 10 mile records two weekends ago in Manchester (above- pic by North Cheshire Clarion).
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John Paul European and World champion!

OK, so this is month-old news, but I thought it would be remiss not to tip the hat to young Scottish track sprinter John Paul, who won European and World U23 titles on the track back in August.

John is a Braveheart funded rider meaning that he gets support for travel and other expenses. The fund will be delighted this year as it has seen several funded athletes achieve real success at a world level- more on them to come.

Check out his Braveheart Fund Diary, where he recoutns his Junior/U23 European success in the Keirin and Sprint.

Then at the end of August he headed to the Worlds in Moscow where he beat Julien Palma of France to the Junior World Sprint title. Again his Braveheart diary provides a refreshing personal look back on how

Larry Hickmott’s VeloUK site also covers the jr Worlds with a victory picture, but I like the personal nature of the Braveheart diaries.

Elsewhere you’ve got a quality inteview by Ed Hood on Pez Cycling News, and another one on British Cycling by Guy Swarbrick. Of course he won the National sprint too, but bizarrely that seems like an afterthought following European and World titles.

I had done a bit of research into John back in March and it’s nice to follow young riders progress. Hopefully more people know about him now and he continues to do well.

image © Larry Hickmot / British Cycling.

Steve McCaw breaks VTTA hour record

Steve McCaw has set a new VTTA outdoor hour record of 42.822km. That’s a UK-wide vets’ hour record- congratulations. This was set on Tuesday 9th August at a blustery Meadowbank Velodrome, breaking the previous outdoor age group record of 40.86km or 25.4 miles. Most readers will be familiar with the hour record, which holds something of a legendary or mythical status in the world of cycling. I spoke to Steve to find out more about this achievement.

Image Allister Watson

First, Steve gave me a bit of background on his cycling career:

I won my first ever time trial aged 15 and I was third in my first ever road race in a sprint finish a few weeks later so the die was pretty much cast then, “has good aerobic capacity but not much of a gallop!” I’ve won The Scottish 25tt and 50TT and ridden small stage races as well as a lot of different track events. I took to the track right away but have always tried to keep variety by riding road and TT too.

Steve had twice held a Scottish hour record as a junior:

I broke the Scottish hour record when I was still a junior in 1980 with 42km. I was the scottish junior TT champion that year and had used a track bike to set a number of junior TT records so having to spin a small fixed gear when riding TT’s was good practise for the track. After that I was selected for the British track Team squad and rode the Junior World track champs for GB. In 1982 I had another go at the Scottish hour record and raised it to 45km, and although that mark has been passed now it’s still the furthest ridden on traditional equipment of spoked wheels and dropped handlebars.

1980 – 1Hour- Steve McCaw Scotia Sports/Dales Cycles – 26 miles 98yds
1982 – 1hour- Steve McCaw Roiseal crt – 27miles 1681 yds
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Andy Macleod: Superman

A couple of years ago my wife showed me this video of 15/16yr olds ripping on their jump bikes in the local woods. The footage is rough but she knew the kids, it was local, and we were impressed. Although The Drum-Up has a pretty roadie-centric worldview, my teenage years were spent skateboarding and mountain biking, and I can still appreciate a nice jump when I see one.

Amongst the majority of Drum-Up readers, ‘Superman’ will conjure up Graeme Obree’s revolutionary position used to break the hour record for a second time. But in this context, it’s the motocross-inspired freestyle manoeuvre that most of us could only dream of attempting, let along landing.

Originally hailing from Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis, Andy Macleod started taking his biking seriously around the age of 13, and was immediately drawn to jumping and getting whatever air he could. He chose a full-face helmet and pictured himself as a motocross rider.
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Carlos Riise, SVTTA 50

Carlos Riise, who if you don’t know comes from Shetland and is a TT specialist, finished the SVTTA 50 mile TT in 2:04:10 on Sunday.

The course takes in some of the ‘Kippen flats’ or Cambusbarron 10 course, before turning left up to Blairdrummond and left again along rolling roads towards Thornhill.

20110320_6006 Carlos in ’10’ action earlier this year

2:04:10 is a pretty good time but quite a bit slower than you might expect for Mr Riise, who is very handy indeed in a TT. However it is put firmly in perspective with the knowledge that he rode the whole 50 without a saddle or seatpost, having forgotten to pack it for the flight down to Stirling.
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Who was Billy Warnock?

The Billy Warnock Memorial race is coming up, held this year on 7th August and run as usual by Falkik Bike Club. The race is named in memory of a former rider and racer, as is often the case with Scottish Road Races. Being a relative newcomer to the Scottish scene, I always wonder who these people were, so I have asked a few contacts for their thoughts on Billy.

Billy was diagnosed with cancer in his late 50s and passed away shortly after, but the race perpetuates his memory.

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