Thursday, April 18, 2024

Alasdair MacLennan – the SC President Looks Back at the Glasgow Games


HomeInterviewsAlasdair MacLennan - the SC President Looks Back at the Glasgow Games

As the Commonwealth Games fade in our memory to be replaced by The Vuelta and Worlds we thought there should be a ‘last word’ on the biggest week of cycle sport in Scotland’s history.

And who better to provide it than Scottish Cycling President, Alasdair MacLennan who kindly agreed to share his thoughts with VeloVeritas.

Alasdair MacLennan
Alasdair prepares to present the awards at the Commonwealth Games velodrome. Photo©Martin Williamson

Thank you for agreeing to this, Alasdair – Games Cycling, your marks out of 10 and why?

“9/10 as I never believe you can have the perfect event.

“What we did have was a fantastic series of races showcasing many of the world’s best riders, and all in or around the City of Glasgow.

“Massive crowds cheering on the riders even on days like we had for the road race showed how far we have come since we last held the Games in 1986 when I was on an unopened Edinburgh bypass at 7am on a dreich Saturday morning with literally two men and their dog watching.”

Which was the best ride of The Games for you and why?

“On a personal front Craig MacLean and Neil Fachie’s second ride of the final in the tandem sprint when they really had to show their character to overcome their loss in the first.

“That particular event showed once again what a spectacle tandem track racing is.

“Only old guys like us will remember tandem racing at the Worlds, so I think we should start a campaign to bring it back!

“I must admit that G’s (Geraint Thomas) ride to win the men’s and Lizzie’s (Armistead) the women’s road races were pretty special also but if there was an overall GC across cycling events then Katie Archibald would surely have won gold!”

Alasdair MacLennan
Craig MacLean and Neil Fachie of Scotland throw to victory in the Para Tandem Final. Photo©Martin Williamson

Some say we should have entered a team pursuit squad…

“I would love to have had a team pursuit team in Glasgow. I still consider it to be Cycling’s most perfect discipline.

“Again, back to Edinburgh 86… who that were there could forget the Aussies, led by Dean Woods, taking the event to a new level?

“Unfortunately this new level requires huge resource to even meet the qualification standard set by CGCS [Commonwealth Games Council for Scotland], resources which we are still dreaming of but actively pursuing (excuse the pun!).

“It’s a work in progress.”

And maybe given Iain Grant and Silas Goldsworthy a ride in the time trial?

“As with the team pursuit riders for the TT had to qualify through the very exacting CGCS qualification criteria.

“This year every rider who met the standards competed at the Games.

“Hopefully in the future we will have even more riders meeting these standards and then, unfortunately for some of them, they will have qualified and possibly not be selected.”

Alasdair MacLennan
Silas Goldsworthy chased team selection in the early season. Photo©Martin Williamson

Who designed the road race course – it’s a wonderful circuit?

“Thanks, I’ll take that as a compliment because in the main it was me.

“I have to acknowledge the input from former National Coach Graeme Herd and the UCI Technical Delegate Colin Clews both of whose input was invaluable in different ways but ultimately produced a very challenging and exciting course constrained by being totally within a city in the middle of a major multi-sport Games.

“Glasgow City Council through their Life, LES, and Roads departments together with Police Scotland fully embraced and supported the project even though I know I gave them many palpitations over the three years in the planning through to final delivery.”

How much UCI involvement is there?

“For the very first time in Commonwealth Games history these Games were on the UCI calendar and consequently points gained in cycling events count towards qualification for Worlds and Olympics.

“Up to and during the event I worked extremely closely with Comp Manager Bill Clinch, who is also a UCI International Commissaire, and UCI Tech Delegate Colin Clews to try and ensure that we could give the riders some of the best competitions they could get anywhere and I think in the end we achieved that aim.”

Alasdair MacLennan
Geraint Thomas’ win in the Games Road Race was pretty special. Photo©Martin Williamson

The Bruce Croal situation – your opinion, please?

“To the best of my knowledge Bruce returned an adverse analytical finding which was dealt with by the relevant authority UKAD (working on delegated authority from WADA and UCI).

“After conclusion of the process he was banned for a period, and thereafter, in accordance with regulations he was eligible to return to competition.

“Once again, and most importantly, it highlights the need for athletes to be diligent and vigilant in what enters their bodies and especially in relation to sports supplements.

“Responsibility lies completely with the athlete in this regard.”

Did SC ‘debrief’ after The Games – any ‘with hindsights?’

“There is a debrief planned for the next few weeks at which I will be having an input.

“After a hectic run up and Games themselves everyone has been given “a breather” to get back into the real world!

“However the de-brief will be a “warts and all” affair and certainly not simply a back slapping exercise because we met our medal target.”

Has SC seen a membership boost since The Games?

“SC has seen exceptional growth in membership since 2009 and year on year, month on month, continues to increase.

“The Games is just another catalyst in this process and in a few months time we will be able to analyse precisely the impact and I’m sure we will see a membership “spike” post Games.”

Where would you like Scottish Cycling to be at the next Games?

“Hopefully in the Gold Coast (Australia) having met the qualification standard! No, seriously though…

“I would like us to be well on the way to being like New Zealand.

“Over the past couple of Games their progress across almost all disciplines has been exponential and this is where I would aspire to be.

“However, realistically, even the Gold Coast might be too early so 2022 is where I would like us to make the big statement to the World.”

Alasdair MacLennan
Marc Ryan (New Zealand) was one of many Kiwi riders putting in World Class performances in Glasgow. Photo©Martin Williamson

Could New Zealand be a model for us, small country, big results.

“Probably, in my opinion, the perfect model.

“NZ got their first indoor track in Invercargill in 2006.

“Bear in mind that Invercargill is to most centres of population in NZ what Thurso is to central Scotland.

“They still made huge strides in the following few years and developed a strong programme across all disciplines but the real breakthrough was the opening of the new High Performance (HP) centre in Cambridge, in the middle of the north island.

“Accessibility to the facilities proved to be the key.

“I’ve already had discussions during the Games with a view to establishing a relationship with their HP centre which could be of benefit to our riders, especially during our winter.

“Again, it’s a work in progress.”

Sportives – huge numbers of riders, is SC capitalising upon that craze?

“Sadly I would like to be able to say that Sportives with their huge numbers were going to bring us to the next sporting level.

“After all that’s what we as an organisation are all about. As ever it’s much more complex than that.

“As a high risk sport cycling attracts some hefty insurance premiums and of course these have to be paid for.

“As a mostly publicly funded organisation SC has to have strict regulation policies in place and this of course conflicts with many free spirited individuals who want as little regulation as possible in what for many is a weekend pastime away from the weekly grind.

“We are however attracting cyclists who want to move to the next level and many clubs around the country are literally bursting at the seams.”

How close did we actually come to Le Tour in Scotland?

“Difficult to say actually. I’ve been told conflicting stories.

“I must admit to being pretty p….d off when Yorkshire was awarded the Grand Depart and then had to go cap in hand to the Government to fund it afterwards.

“Given that the joint bid from Scotland and Wales had funding secured and the backing of the Welsh and Scottish governments as well as BC, SC and WC confidence was quite high.

“But Gary Verity from ‘Welcome to Yorkshire’ proved to be a redoubtable adversary. He worked his way into the consciences of Christian Prudhomme and ASO and worked his “veritable magic” on them.

“To be fair in the end he delivered an exceptional and memorable weekend and I was delighted to see the sport again take centre stage.”

Alasdair MacLennan
Amazing crowds and great weather typified Le Tour in Yorkshire. Photo©Martin Williamson

Scottish Cycling – are you happy with where we are, right now?

“Reasonably, but not getting carried away. I’ve been around too long for that!

“There’s still loads to do and as a volunteer I still need to get some life balance which basically means getting out on my bike more.”