TOP riders competing in one of cycling’s most exciting disciplines will descend on Lochore Meadows this weekend as a prestigious event arrives in Fife.
Round three of the British Cycling National Cross Country Series – in which Dunfermline cycling star Rab Wardell will take part – takes place today (Saturday) and tomorrow (Sunday).
The mountain bike series, which is held over five rounds, will be held in an Olympic Cross County (XCO) format, with events for all age categories.
Races for the men’s and women’s elite runners take place tomorrow – the action starting in earnest with a skills race for the under-12s at noon today – and should showcase the high caliber of runners in the sport.
British runners Evie Richards and Tom Piddock are the current women’s world and men’s Olympic champions in the sport, highlighting the strength in depth in sport, and Rab, who now lives in Glasgow, admitted the prospect of competing in such a high class event so close to home was something he couldn’t miss.
“For this to be a round of the British national mountain bike series, which I have spent several years traveling to compete in these races, for there to be one at home, it seemed like a great opportunity. “, he explained.
“This weekend is also the first round of the MTB World Cup. A few of the riders who have beaten me this year are actually competing in the World Cup, so this is an opportunity to get a good result. There are world ranking points to offer, which are quite hard to come by.
“I’m sixth before the race so I’m hoping to at least match that, if not better than in the result, so that’s a bit of the motivation to be honest.
“It would be a little crazy to miss that.
“Being able to race at home, and a race at this level – you have the UK National Series coming to Lochore Meadows – that has never happened before. It’s exciting.”
Rab, who competed in the 2006 Commonwealth Games, smashed his way into the record books two years ago by setting a record time to run the iconic West Highland Way.
He has since returned to mountain biking competition and continued, “I’m motivated; I’ve been training well for a few years now, since coming back from the West Highland Way project, and then last year I really competed on my momentum.
“It will also be my fourth race of the season, so I’m starting to get in shape a bit. I had a good race last weekend in Portugal, so I’m looking forward to it.
“The event is organized by the SXC, which is the Scottish Cross-Country Mountain Bike Series. There is a Scottish National series that runs all year round; I think the last race was about barely a week and that was in Falkirk.
“There are events happening all the time in Scottish mountain biking.
“I would be really happy if I race on Sunday if I see any familiar faces that come to watch or see what the fuss is about. I know when I was in high school I guess I was the ‘bike guy’ – I had this kind of niche hobby where I raced mountain bikes every weekend.
“Now that there is a national level event taking place in Fife, just outside Dunfermline, it would be cool if people wanted to show up and see what it’s all about.
He added: “It’s the highest level of cross-country mountain bike racing you’ll see in Britain this year.
“I think the only thing it really compares to is the National Championships, which will be at Glentress, Peebles, this summer.
“It’s also an opportunity to see some of the riders who could compete in the World Championships, which will be held in Scotland next year.
“Next year we’ll have the first ever cycling world championships in Glasgow and all of Scotland. It’s basically going to be like a cycling Olympics that’s going to be held in Scotland next year. I think it’s going to be a huge boost for cycling in Scotland, and I also hope to bring cycling to new audiences.”
For a full schedule of events at Lochore Meadows this weekend, visit https://www.britishcycling.org.uk/events/details/257448/British-Cycling-National-Cross-Country-Series-Round-3.