Challenging start to season for Kirkcaldy-based cycling team

Spokes riders Calum Mitchell and Lewis Grieve with Ben Forsyth in the backdrop, at the Gifford Road Race.
Spokes riders Calum Mitchell and Lewis Grieve with Ben Forsyth in the backdrop, at the Gifford Road Race.

Saturday saw the start of the 2015 Scottish road racing season as the small village of Gifford played host to a few of Scotland’s top professionals as well as the young Kirkcaldy-based Spokes Racing Team in the prestigious Gifford Road Race.

On a cold East Lothian day, competition was fierce amongst riders as they tried to take first blood in The ‘Alba’ Road Race Series over the testing 65 mile course. It was a big day for the Kirkcaldy team as well as they had 11 riders taking part in both the A and B races.

Their day started off well as their youngest rider, John McLeod, took a hard fought 11th place in the B race. He then joined nine of his team mates to take part in the A race, which included the respected Scottish pro, Evan Oliphant.

After an erratic start with riders taking every opportunity to attack the already straining bunch, the race soon settled down as they rattled around the undulating eight mile circuit at a blistering pace.

The stalemate held for a couple of laps until nine riders slipped away, one of which being the young Spokes junior, Grant Martin, and carved out an unassailable advantage over the rest of the race.

A rotten stroke of luck would proceed to end Martin’s chances, though, as he was taken down in a crash with a fellow breakaway companion. A brave attempt to battle on back in the bunch eventually came to an end and, with that, his day was done.

This left chance of a Spokes’ success down to the remaining seven riders who were still left in the chasing bunch. The break managed to hold off the chase with Matthew Kipling of MTS Cycle Sport outsprinting the likes of Oliphant to win the first race of the Scottish racing calendar.

Fraser Martin obtained Spokes’ best finish with 12th place as a further three of his teammates managed to make it into the top 20. Local boys, Calum Mitchell and Lewis Grieve, came in only a few places back - something they can both build on for a tough season ahead.

A challenging first outing for the new look Spokes Racing Team but one they cannot be disheartened from. Improvements here and there could see them pose a real threat in Scottish, and British, road racing this season.