Published: 26th Nov 2023 Images: Scottish Cycling

Inglis and Martin do the double

On a crisp, clear day at Knockburn Loch, Grace Inglis and Lewis Martin replicated their mountain bike success earlier this year to take the Scottish National Cyclocross titles in fine style.

Success tasted even sweeter for the Studio Velo man Martin, having missed out in a sprint finish to Gary MacDonald (Nevis Cycles) 12 months ago – MacDonald would clinch the V40 title at the Aberdeenshire venue in his first year in the age group.

For Martin though, 12 months was a long wait to get his hands on this coveted title – the Cross Country Mountain Bike title he bagged at Ae Forest in August filling the void in the meantime – the cream rising to the top this year as he has been the form rider on the Scottish scene this year, winning handsomely on multiple occasions.

On what it meant, Lewis said:

“I’m really happy with it – it’s been a big goal of mine to win the cross championships basically since last year – admittedly I was pretty disappointed to be second, so I’m very, very happy.”

A strong field assembled at the Aberdeenshire venue, and Alex Ball (Maglia Tecnosylva Bembibre) was one man who wasn’t content to just let Martin ride off into the sunset on lap one, putting up a valiant chase for the first half of the race, before the Dumfriesshire man went away to lift the title. In the end it was a convincing win for Martin, who showed his class with a winning margin of some two minutes.

As Ball fell off the hot early pace it was a man who has been there and done it, Grant Ferguson (Hope Factory Racing), who would bridge up to him to set up a thrilling battle for silver. This was Ball’s first CX race of the season, so technically Ferguson was better, but Ball was making the difference on the ‘ski-slope’ climb – eventually he would get away on the ascent on the final lap to take the runner-up spot, Ferguson 10 seconds back.

In the Female race, an early crash had left borders rider Grace Inglis (Muckle CC) with work to do, but she stayed composed to chase back on to the front of the race within a lap. Before too long it would turn into a three race horse race, with Beatrix Kiehlmann (Royal Albert) doing a lot of the work, Jo Thom diligently following the wheels in front of her.

For the most part there was nothing to separate this trio until Inglis made her move on the penultimate lap, pushing on to make her advantaged stick, going solo to the line and punching the air. Kielhmann would come home shortly after for silver, with Thom securing the final podium spot.

On her efforts, Inglis said:

“I’m really happy! I was feeling good on the off-camber, twisty bits in the back field, so I put an effort in there on the second last lap and got a bit of a gap and managed to hold it to the end. I’m really pleased with that.”

In the same race, but starting ahead of their senior counterparts were the Junior Women, who treated onlookers to race long tussle. Local rider Arabella Blackburn (Shibden CC) and Royal Albert’s Daisy Taylor would take it in turns to test each other, which proved an enthralling battle – Blackburn a road and track specialist, whilst Taylor is a class act on the mountain bike – both riders having represented Great Britain in their specialist discipline this summer.

But on the fields of Aberdeenshire there was little to split them until Taylor broke free on the final lap of the loch to clinch the Scottish Cyclocross national title, Blackburn settling for silver after dropping her chain when trying to claw Taylor back, with the bronze going the way of Harriet Hendry (Deeside Thistle). Sian Tovey would take the V40 title, Caroline Harvey (Peebles CC) the V50 and Fiona Paton (East Sutherland Wheelers) the V60. In the Vet Men’s races earlier in the day the ever present Douglas Cameron would solo to victory in the V50 class, whilst after a great battle Gregor Grant (Moray Firth) would take the V60 spoils.

The Junior Men raced with the V40s, but nobody could get close to a flying Innes McDonald (Scotia Offroad RT) as he pushed the pace from the get-go, and as one of only a handful of riders all day to hop the sizeable hurdles, he was able to really make an advantage on his chasers there, lap after lap. Eventually McDonald, who is only a first year junior, would win by the best part of minute, with Milo McIntosh (The Cycling Academy) and Sam Barbour (Ribble rechrg RT) joining him on the podium.

The Youth Girls races gave the home crowd plenty to cheer about, as Melanie Rowe and Olivia Poole (both Deeside Thistle) took the U16 and U14 titles respectively. In an extremely strong age group Rowe showed her undeniable talent to win by almost two minutes from Daisy Wilkinson and Freya Mowbray, both of Scotia Offroad RT. Poole was joined on the podium by teammate Zara Main (Deeside) and Mairi Dowens (West Lothian Clarion).

The U16 Boys race saw some fantastic, hard-fought racing, but it was serial winner Gus Lawson (Team Hup) who took the title, Oliver Carter (Deeside Thistle) and Cameron Annable (Derwentside CC) joining him on the podium. Meanwhile in the U14 race a flying Rhuairdh Fulton (West Lothian Clarion) raced to gold, with silver going to Zach Buchan (Pentland Racers) and bronze to Guy Rorke (Peebles CC).

The first championship races of the day were the U12s, Emma Nicholson (East Kilbride RC) taking the victory in the girls race, with Eilidh Scally (Johnstone Jets) securing silver and Kirstie Annable (Derwentside CC) matching older brother Cameron’s bronze. On the boy’s side Sam Kingan (Pentland Racers) scored a narrow victory over Cobey Stewart (Stepping Stanes Youth CC), with Alexander Mullen (West Lothian Clarion) bagging bronze.

A huge thank you to Deeside Thistle for hosting another great edition of the championships at what is fast becoming a classic Scottish cyclocross venue. For those who want more CX action, entries for the next round of the SCX Series at last season’s Championship venue, Camperdown Park in Dundee, close at 23.59 on Tuesday 28th November.