It’s been a year since we last caught up with 21 year-old Linlithgow ‘cross man,’ Cameron Mason who rides for Trinity Racing; since then he’s been cementing his place as one of the top u23 ‘cross riders in the world – high times we caught up with him again.
But Cameron wasn’t among the frozen cabbage fields and sand dunes of Flanders when we spoke, he was down in sunny Calpe on the Mediterranean to ‘top up’ on endurance training…
A wee break from competition then, Cameron?
“Yes, I feel lucky to be down here in Spain for 10 days; the focus is on volume which you don’t get the chance to do when you’re racing.
“I did four hours today, I have four hours tomorrow then six hour the day after.”
We saw you in action at the British Road Race Championship in Lincoln – that was a tough old day.
“I spoke to people before the race and they said it was a hard course and then the rain came down, which was a bit of a worry on an urban course.
“The race was super-hard from lap one there were gaps to close but I learned a lot, especially that on a course like that you have to race from the front – I hope to be back at the road Nationals next year.”
You’ve been knocking out some nice rides, which give you most satisfaction?
“It has to be when I’m against the Elite riders, they’re the benchmark so I’d say ninth – and second u23 – at the Overijse World Cup.
“I started at the back and spent the whole race picking off riders, my lap times were up with the best Elites.
“It’s nice to be right up there with the u23’s but as I said, Elite level is the benchmark.”
Your next races?
“Those will be back in the UK; the Clanfield ‘cross in Hampshire [Cameron won the race by 49 seconds from fellow Scot, Rory McGuire who VeloVeritas has also be speaking to recently, ed.] and the National Trophy race at Gravesend on 10th and 11th December respectively.”
“I’m excited about riding them, it’ll be nice to be racing at home.”
[Cameron won at Gravesend too, from Peebles rider Corran Carrick-Anderson who now tops the National Trophy Series standings, ed.]
You must be well up in the various ‘cross competition rankings?
“In the overall UCI World Cup classification I’m in the top 20, Eli Iserbyt is leading there – in the u23 World Cup rankings I’m third behind the Dutch guys Mees Hendrikx and Ryan Kamp.
“The one I’m focused on is the X20 Trophy, it’s based on overall time rather than points and I’m 50 seconds back on the Dutchman who’s leading, Pim Ronhaar – I think have a shot at winning that one.
“But like I said, it’s when you race against the Elites that your real level becomes apparent.”
What’s your favourite parcours?
“I like the hillier and/or muddy course, I’m not a ‘power’ ready, technically I’m good and can handle the ruts, I gain time there.
“The sand courses are where I have a weakness, at Koksijde I was 16th, that course is so hard – on the practice laps my heart rate was already through the roof.”
In these ‘days of Covid’ how are the famous, excitable Belgian ‘cross fans?
“They’ve been strong but it’s a shame that the restrictions are tightening up just at the time when Wout Van Aert and Mathieu Van Der Poel are coming back into racing ‘cross.”
It’ll be fireworks when Wout, Mathieu and Tom Pidcock are all on the same start sheet.
“That won’t be until January I believe and whilst they’re all coming off highly successful road seasons, I think Wout is best prepared and very motivated.”
[Cameron got that right, WVA put a yawning 1:40 into Superprestige and World Cup series leader, Eli Iserbyt in winning the Telenet Superprestige round at Boom, after this interview was conducted.
Mathieu Van Der Poel’s father Adri, an eight time podium finisher at the Professional Cyclo-cross Words said recently that the likes of Iserbyt will have to ride a higher level road programme in the summer to enable them to be competitive against the ‘Big Three’ of WVA, MVDP and Tom Pidcock – but that’s another story, ed.]
Is Kurt Bogaerts still coaching you?
“No, Kurt went to Ineos with my former Trinity team mate, Tom Pidcock.
“I’m back with former British Criterium Champion and Commonwealth Games medallist, James McCallum, he used to coach me before and has always been a mentor to me.”
In the ‘cross season, what does your week look like?
“Saturday and Sunday are race days; Monday is an easy day; Tuesday I’ll be in the gym, I’ve been doing twice weekly gym sessions; but Tuesday I’ll also be on the bike and over Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday I’ll be on the road and do one day specific ‘cross training in the sand.”
Do you go to the famous Lichtaart Forest ‘cross training ground?
“I tend to do my ‘cross training at Hofstade where you can practice your skills, including riding the sand.”
Have you ‘gone tubeless’ yet?
“I think it will come but tubulars are still the choice – true – there’s all the hassle of gluing them on but they’re the best tech for the job, you can ride them at lower pressures, I was down to 15/16 psi at Koksijde in the sand.”
Are you on a 1x transmission set up and how many wheel choices do you take to a race?
“Yes, 1×12 SRAM Force, wireless electronic.
“I’ll have three bikes and 10 or 12 pairs of wheels to choose from, we have four tread choices depending on the surfaces and we have deep and shallow rim choices.
“It helps if you’ve raced the course before, you know what to expect but that could all change if it rains and it could be much muddier.
“Our mechanics are good though, they usually have an idea of what would be best on the day.”
You have a YouTube channel now?
“Yes, we started shooting videos last year, I think it’s good for fans to see the battles further down the field, the TV focuses on the top three or four riders.”
What are your goals for the rest of this ‘cross season?
“I’d like to win a race, a World Cup would be special.
“Then there are the World Championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas in the USA, it’s not a course I’ve ridden but it’s purpose built on a hillside with lots of climbing – something that could suit me…”
VeloVeritas wishes Cameron ‘all the best for the Worlds and will be keeping a close eye on the ‘cross results pages.