Cycling: Capital cyclists taste success across all fields

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Whether it can be attributed to the Olympic effect or anticipation of the 2014 Commonwealth Games on home soil is unclear, but there is little doubt that cycling in and around the Capital enjoyed a successful 2012.

Even the cloud of Edinburgh failing to land the right to host the Tour de France in 2014 had a silver lining, with a proposal now in the pipeline to bring the event to the city in 2017.

Heading the list of achievers was the man now endowed with the title, “Britain’s greatest Olympian”. Sir Chris Hoy’s golden double in London may prove to be his cycling swansong. The 36-year-old has just returned from Australia, where he has been preparing for a low key season in which he will decide whether his body will accept another 18 months of punishment and see him through to Glasgow and further honours at the track which bears his name.

At the opposite end of the age spectrum but driven by the same objective is Callum Skinner, who sampled the highs and lows of life as a professional sportsman. Crowned British sprint champion in September, he had the dubious distinction of being the first rider to crash at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, breaking his collarbone in spectacular style at the Thunderdrome meeting in October.

That injury cost him a trip to Mexico as part of the Great Britain squad for next month’s UCI World Cup. However, the 20-year-old is now back in the saddle and will be looking to maintain his progress in 2013.

A team-sprint squad of Hoy, Skinner and another City of Edinburgh rider, 19-year-old John Paul, is a possibility for Glasgow. Paul took the Scottish sprint and Keirin titles, displaying tactical maturity beyond his years.

Bruce Croall, harshly overlooked by Scotland selectors for the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, stepped up his claims for consideration this time as he dominated local competition, winning his seventh Meadowbank National Track League title, and also had a podium finish at the British Championships.

Growing participation in women’s cycling was a feature in all disciplines of the sport. The dominant Scot on the track was City of Edinburgh’s Charline Joiner, who continued her transformation from sprinter to endurance rider by winning the Scottish pursuit and scratch titles, proving that she has retained her natural pace by making it a treble when she landed gold in the Keirin.

Meanwhile, teenager Katie Archibald burst onto the scene in spectacular style. In her first full season of racing, she won the British junior pursuit title and marked herself down as a potential future star.

The advent of a sparkling new facility in Glasgow should benefit riders from all over Scotland. However, despite the hollow promises of Edinburgh’s politicians and their lack of commitment to providing a replacement facility, Meadowbank Velodrome continued to play a vital role in the development of cycling in the city after a group of enthusiasts took over the management of the track.

On the roads, James McCallum finally ousted his Capital-based friend and rival Evan Oliphant to win the Scottish road race championship for the first time and then went on to add the criterium title. Both riders will be looking to step up their claims for a Commonwealth Games spot over the coming months.

Their fellow international Alex Coutts will be better placed to catch the attention of selectors after returning from the Asian circuit to compete for Herbalife Leisure Lakes, where his colleagues will include 
Livingston’s Gary Hand.

Others from the across the Lothians will also be determined to move their careers to a higher level. For others such as teenagers Stuart Balfour – now a member of the British Cycling Olympic Talent Programme – Hamish Carrick and Sean Noon, who are members of Edinburgh Road Club’s Martin Currie Racing Team, and for promising junior rider Louise Borthwick, a longer-term time horizon applies.