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The VV Review of 2019


Welcome to our review of 2019. It’s almost time to file the season under ‘nostalgia’ and look to season 2020, which will make it half a century I’ve been a fan of cycle sport.

I can still remember watching Hugh Porter win the 1970 world professional pursuit championship under the spotlights at Leicester, on our tiny black and white tele.

Where did those years go?

This year was hard on my boyhood heroes;

Patrick Sercu, one of the most remarkable athletes the world has ever seen, in any sport, was lost to us.

Imagine Usain Bolt winning the marathon?

Sercu was World Amateur and Professional Sprint Champion, Olympic Kilometre Champion, Six Day monarch and green jersey winner in the Tour de France, never mind all of his other achievements which you can see a list in our obituary.

Review of 2019
Patrick Sercu at the Skol Six Day in London, 1972. Photo©John Pierce / PhotoSport International UK USA Asia

Felice Gimondi, as with Sercu, another man who looked like he was born to sit astride a racing bike – one of that exclusive club to have won all three Grand Tours not to mention a rainbow jersey, the Primavera and Tour of Lombardy – again, you can find a fuller appraisal of his palmares in our obituary.

Raymond Poulidor, a man who won all through the eras of two of the colossi of the sport, Jacques Anquetil and Eddy Merckx.

He won a Grand Tour, Classics, The Dauphine and stood on the Worlds podium for the first time in 1964 and the last time in 1974 – but best known for his still record eight Tour podiums in 12 finishes.

A remarkable man.

Gert Frank, 70’s and 80’s Six Day star with 20 wins off 143 starts and just seven DNF was another star we lost.

He also accumulated 22 second places and 20 podium third spots – giving 62 podiums off those 143 starts, riding with 43 partners in 24 different cities.

A proper Six Day man. 

Review of 2019
Gert Frank (l) with Ole Ritter in September 1977. Photo©Mogens Ladegaard/Ritzau Scanpix

Tony Hoar, was a little before my time but got through a Tour de France with minimal support back in 1955 – a feat very few ‘Brits’ achieved until recent years.

Derek Harrison, actually passed away in 2018 but he was a man who avoided publicity and that continued after his death with VeloVeritas only learning of his passing this year.

A quality rider who was a top amateur in France and rode the Tour de France but who we never saw the best of, Harrison like Sercu and Gimondi had that easy, classy, ‘at one with his bicycle’ look.

May they all rest in peace.

* * *

Turning our thoughts on Season 2019 and the ladies first.

Review of 2019
Great Britain (and Scotland)’s Neah Evans (l) and Katie Archibald (r), with Laura Kenny and Elinor Barker celebrate taking Gold on the podium during the 2018 European Championships at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, Glasgow. Photo©John Walton/PA Wire

Katie Archibald: continues to be a force of nature on the boards; Worlds silver, British European and World Cup gold – Tokyo is on the horizon.

Neah Evans: continues to improve, European and World Cup gold – two Scottish lasses in Tokyo ? let’s hope so.

Anna Shackley: best Scot in the Tour of Scotland, a Nations Cup podium finisher and top 12 in The Worlds; one for the future – she might even do an interview with us one day…

Carol Scott: kept Scotland centre stage at the World Masters Championships with Gold in the 55+ Points Race and Bronze in the Individual Pursuit.

Review of 2019
John Archibald gets super-aero at the World Championships TT. Photo©Martin Williamson

John Archibald: had another great season; two British track titles, British record and world’s best four kilometre time, hilly TT records destroyed, the Scottish Road Race Champs, medals in the British Elite Individual Time Trial and Road Race title races and more stand out World Cup performances.

I wonder if I can get the air fare together to go to Bolivia with John and the HUUB boys – that would be an adventure. 

Mark Stewart: After a quiet summer the Dundee man came back with a ‘bang !’ to take a string of top results in World Cups – another Scot with Tokyo on his mind.

Jack Carlin: Just 22 years-old the young man from Paisley has put together a string of top team sprint rides with European and World Cup medals to prove it; and as we know so well, all GB rider racing and training is aimed at peaking on just one velodrome – Tokyo. 

Review of 2019
Kyle Gordon keeps in the tuck during the Loch Ken TT. Photo©Martin Williamson

Kyle Gordon: two medals at the British track champs, the Scottish ‘10’ and ‘25’ again, a move to Derby and the ‘Huub House’ with whom he rode team pursuits at speeds which would have been world records not so long ago – then taking two golds and a silver in the Scottish track champs.

Another Scot bound for Bolivia… 

While we’re talking ‘testing,’ a couple of new champions were crowned but best talk about the ladies first.

Vicki Smith: Took the ‘10’ Champs and was favourite for the ‘25’ but another lady had ambitions on that one.

Catriona MacGilvray: Mum, ‘25’ champion and champion and record breaker at both 50 and 100 miles – chapeau!

Christina MacKenzie: Has to get an honourable mention for her unsuccessful but valiant attempt at the Lands End to John O’Groats record – that’s all 874 miles and 10,373 metres climbing of it; respect, Madam. 

Back to the gentlemen…

Review of 2019
Iain McLeod with the beautiful scenery at the Bealach Beag Sportiv. Photo©Richard Pearce/Trilobite Photography

Iain Mcleod: moved up from fourth in the ‘25’ Champs to gold in the ‘50’ champs.

Andrew Underwood: grabbed the ‘100’ title, moving up from 2018 bronze.

Kyle Beattie: MTB man Beattie had us all saying, ‘who ?’ up on The East Lomond back in October – but he was the man who took the 2019 Scottish Hill Climb.

(Yes, we know, he wasn’t fastest, that was youth, Murray Lawson who’s now a Spokes man – we’re just the messengers, remember ?

And what about the ‘young uns’ on the way up?

Daniel Kain: Just keeps getting better, road, track, time trial, he can win them all – he’ll need to specialise one day – but not yet.

Oscar Onley: Is coming on nicely and will ride with AG2R’s ‘feeder’ team, for part of next year after a highly successful 2019.

Alfie George warms up before the Junior Worlds Road Race in which he finished 7th. Photo©Martin Williamson

Alfie George: His latest adventure was to help Cav qualify for the madison in Tokyo via the UCI Grenchen Track Challenge; fifth place gets Cav the points he needs but with so much strength on the British track squad it’s hard to see the Manxman being selected.

But with a Worlds Road Race top 10 and a Gent Six win to his name, Alfie won’t be too disappointed. 

Stuart Balfour is greeted by his parents at the team bus after finishing the u23 World Road Race Championship. Photo©Martin Williamson

Stuart Balfour: A year which saw him ride the Baby Giro, Tour de l’Avenir and a very solid Worlds; for 2020 he’s back to La Belle France and a team in Bourge-en-Bresse, close to the Swiss border – we wish him well. 

Joe Nally: After a season that didn’t go as the man from Fife would like he’s signed with Vitus Pro Cycling for 2020 – again, we wish him well. 

And to close, best not forget the ‘auld fellas’ – Messrs, Martin Lonie and Andy Bruce