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The VV View: Scotland’s Young Turks


As the sleeping beast that is the 2020 cycling season stirs after it’s long snooze, we thought it would be good to look at how Scotland’s Young Turks spent lock down and what their plans are for the rest of this strange year.

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Murray Lawson, 17 years-old, Spokes Cycles

Number one in our Young Turks list, Murray is the young man who was fastest up Falkland Hill last year in the Scottish Hill Climb Championship but didn’t take the title, however he’s well on track to make sure there’s no dubiety this year: 

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Murray Lawson. Photo©Ed Hood

“The last few months have been a welcome change for me as I’ve left school now so I’ve had the time to train and not worry about homework or getting in from a ride before dark. 

“I have been working with Kevin Henderson from Blackzone Coaching since the start of lockdown and he has been keeping me on track and working hard during these uncertain times. 

“The extra time to train from having no school has really helped me focus on the bike and make the most out of my time. 

Kevin has helped motivate me to get out and has been a top class coach; occasionally he’ll let me off the leash and encourage me to go for a KOM segment on Strava or a Zwift race. 

“One weekend I went over to see my good friends Gordon and Alex MacRae for a socially distanced spin. 

“Alex has really brought me on the last couple of years and has helped with everything from mechanicals to training. 

“And Gordon has been like a second father to me and has helped me a lot too with everything to do with cycling. 

“Kevin had given me a session where I could go and attempt to take a KOM on a Strava segment of 10 minutes in length so I thought; ‘where better than the Tak Ma Doon?’ 

“I headed out with Gordon in the team car and gave it a bash. 

“I took the KOM by four seconds and was the first time recorded under 10 minutes on the climb. 

“But Kevin doesn’t go easy on me as I had another four times up the Tak after that. 

“After this ride Gordon posted all over Facebook and it got a fair bit of attention which lead to the ride being flagged and taken off the leader boards. 

“I’ll hopefully get the chance to prove that the time is legit at the National Hill Climb Championships in a couple of months time as it takes place on the Tak as well. 

“I’m still in the dark as to what races I’ll be able to compete in with Spokes as it’s still uncertain times for the team and myself. 

“But my main goal for the rest of the season will be to repeat the events of last year at the Hill Climb Championships and hopefully get the title this time.”

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Oscar Onley, 19 years-old, Van Rysel AG2R La Mondiale

Scottish Junior 10 mile record holder with 20:12 and fifth in the junior edition of the prestigious French time trial the ‘Chrono des Nations’; at the end of 2019, second of our Young Turks Oscar Onley landed a ride with AG2R ‘feeder’ squad by Van Rysel AG2R La Mondiale and is currently ‘en France.’ 

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Oscar Onley. Photo©Van Rysel

“Lockdown was difficult to begin with not knowing when we would be racing again but I made good use of the time to learn some life skills such as cooking and focussed on becoming a better athlete on and off the bike. 

“I included different training like many other riders with some running and MTB which made a nice change. 

“It’s also given me the opportunity to get four months of quality training in without any distractions and I definitely feel in a stronger position now than the beginning of March. 

“I’m currently in France on a six week trip organised by Van Rysel AG2R La Mondiale where I’m staying with a couple of teammates. 

“I’ve had two training camps with the team in the Alps in the beginning of July and in the Belgian Ardennes last week in preparation for hopefully my first race in August at Aubel-Thimistor-Stavelot. 

“It should be a good test to where I’m at with many of the top European riders on the start list.”

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Daniel Kain, 17 years-old, Spokes Cycles

Multiple Scottish champion on the track, Daniel Kain is a medallist at British level and Scottish youth ‘10’ record-holder with 20:53.

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Daniel Kain.

“Lockdown has been pretty tough, not knowing how long it was going to last it seemed never ending at one point. 

“The fact that there was nothing to aim at was also hard, I don’t think I’ve ever spent so much time at home! 

“The last few weeks I’ve been allowed to increase the intensity of my training which has given me more variety in my training. 

“Also now that I can meet up with some others for my rides has made it easier. 

“My aim is to train hard and be as fit as I can be so that I’m ready if and when events start up again.”

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Alex Dent, 21 year-old up-and-coming former Spokes rider, this Young Turk is now based in Belgium 

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Alex Dent won the Kingdom Classic last year.

“I first heard of the Coronavirus in Europe when I was coming home from a training camp with my team (Urbano cycling team) from Mallorca. 

“As soon as I heard about the season being postponed I went back to Scotland for what was supposed to be a week, however the lockdown was implemented and I was stuck at my home in Onich (Glencoe), Scotland for two months until I managed to get back to Belgium in early May. 

“For the first three weeks I was home, all of my family, including me, were ill. 

“We all had a number of the Covid 19 symptoms including no taste and smell for over a month, but we weren’t able to get tests at the time so we are still unsure whether we had the virus.

“After the self-quarantine period my younger brother, Alex and I cracked on with training, to prepare for what was left of the season. 

“Training-wise during lockdown I have probably had the best period I’ve had. 

“Lockdown allowed me to train a lot more in the summer than I normally do without a packed racing schedule. 

“Mentally I accepted that my next race will probably be in 2021, however I had to keep the gas on with training otherwise I would fall too far behind when it did restart. 

“I think the Coronavirus issue will split the peloton into those that make the most of the situation and those that lose motivation and slowly fall away from the sport so I was keen to be on the right side of the split. 

“I’m currently feeling great on the bike, the extra time has allowed me to focus more on my weaknesses and continue my development that I’ve been working on since the end of last season.

“Now that racing is supposedly starting I am backing off the volume in training slightly whilst maintaining intensity to freshen up a little. 

“However at the time of writing around 10 races each day are being cancelled in Belgium for August so I am not too hopeful that the amateur scene will reboot for 2020.”

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Joe Nally, 21 years-old, Vitus Brother professional team

The youngest-ever winner of the British Elite Points Race, Joe Nally has moved away from the track to ride for home pro team, Vitus Brother.

Joe Nally
Joe Nally. Photo©Martin Williamson

“There’s never a good time to catch glandular fever but that’s what happened to me during lockdown.

“I’m slowly building back up in the wake of that, I feel noticeably weaker but I am getting there, almost but not quite back in shape.

“The team has kept in touch with me all through the lock down with video chats and news updates.

“As for the first race back – good question!

“We had plans to race in Belgium this year but they’ve obviously had to be shelved, I just hope I can get a few races in here in Scotland before the end of this year – but the focus now has to be on season 2021.”

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Alfie George, 19 years-old, GB Academy

The final name on our Young Turks is Alfie George. Last season Alfie was fifth in the Junior Paris-Roubaix and seventh in the Junior Worlds at Harrogate – not a bad season then…

Alfie George warms up before the Worlds Road Race in Harrogate. Photo©Martin Williamson

“I’ve been back down in Manchester with the Academy for a few weeks now.

“We were in Belgium when lockdown began, we were evacuated back to Manchester but then management decided it would be best if we all went home to our families.

“I bought a squat rack so have been doing weight training at home as well as riding the bike – long rides but recently, shorter, sharper stuff.

“I had hoped to get a place on the Tour de l’Avenir team but the race has been cancelled.

“We have the ‘Peace Race,’ some Nations Cup races and some smaller races on the programme, but…”

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