Capital cyclist Claire Thomas displayed characteristic determination to bag a podium finish in the Matrix Fitness Grand Prix Series around a tough circuit in the Grassmarket area of the city last night.
Thomas, who was named in the Commonwealth Games squad earlier in the day, has ploughed a lone furrow in her pursuit of sporting success, so the difficulties she faced yesterday as she recovered from dental treatment 24 hours earlier and was forced to borrow a wheel were minor inconveniences.
Having come to prominence before cycling in Scotland enjoyed its current high profile, she based herself in Belgium and managed to earn a place in several professional teams as she sought exposure to high level competition. Her reward arrived yesterday when she was confirmed in the road squad to compete in Glasgow.
“I qualified based on my results last year but qualification doesn’t guarantee you selection,” said the rider, who has eased back on her training in recent weeks but will now start her Games preparations in earnest. “I have done basically everything on my own but it has been worth it. I’m glad I’ve now got payback for all my hard work.”
She will compete in the road race where the target will be to have a home competitor secure a podium finish, and would love to be the rider who enjoys the support of her team-mates. However, she will be happy to follow team orders if that involves performing a support role for rising star Katie Archibald – a stylish winner last night.
“Katie is coming through very strongly now, so maybe riding for Katie, or if not I would like to see myself on the podium,” added Thomas who knows the Glasgow course suits her having performed well at last year’s British Championships. “I was the first Scot last year in the National Championships so I know it will. I’m used to the short, sharp climbs but anything can happen on the day.”
Archibald, riding for the Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International squad, again underlined the spectacular progress she has made since her debut outing as a novice with Edinburgh Racers less than three years ago. Last night, she dominated, winning the two intermediate sprints then powering clear on the final five laps of the 1.3 kilometre circuit to come home well clear of Helen Wyman (Matrix Fitness – Vulpine), with Thomas a battling third.
Scots had a good night, with Charline Joiner pipping Eileen Roe for fourth spot while Capital teenager Louise Borthwick acquitted herself well to claim 11th spot.
“When Katie went, Charline left a gap and I should have gone across straight away but I hesitated and then I wasn’t strong enough. I knew that I was the strongest of the riders that were left so I just kept going and I rode away from them,” explained Thomas.
In the men’s race – round six of the Pearl Izumi Series – Edinburgh-based James McCallum (NFTO) was joined in a 12-man leading bunch by Capital rider Evan Oliphant. However, both lost touch and Welshman Jon Mold recorded a fine solo win.
Oliphant finished as leading Scot in eighth place, helping Team Raleigh follow up their success at Durham in round five on Tuesday by again lifting the team award.