It has only been three short years since a group of Ellon youngsters raced their bicycles, ranging from mountain bikes to small racing bikes, around the track at the Grampian Transport Museum competing in the first Grampian Grand Prix at Alford.
Some crashed that day, some struggled to cope with the pace of racing and the strong westerly Donside wind that always seemed to blow down the back straight but those early experiences are now bearing fruit as the same youngsters are blazing a trail from their hometown to the top level of youth cycle racing in Scotland and beyond.
Inspired by the achievements of the stars of British Cycling such as Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins and helped by a dedicated group of coaches and parents, Ythan QL, short for “Quines and Loons” are fast becoming the talking point of Scotland’s youth cycling. Three years have passed since that initial outing at Alford and whilst that showed that the QL riders had ability and enthusiasm, 2012 has shown that the same riders can race with the UK’s best.
Heading the pack are Craig Ward and Zak Loney who have shown skill, fitness and sheer confidence in their ability to secure results over consecutive weekends in April. Supported by similar efforts by Joel Robertson and fantastic road race performances by Wojciech Kosciuszko the start of the 2012 season has shown that the QL youth system has the potential to help youngsters from Ellon reach the upper echelons of one of the fastest growing sports in Britain.
Coached by club members Colin Allanach, Russell Craig, and Chris Soper and assisted by Scottish Cycling’s Regional Development Officer Peter Clark the QL sessions on Saturday mornings at the community centre car park in Ellon have allowed the youngsters to have informal and relaxed inputs under the British Cycling Go-Ride strategy.
YOUTH TOUR OF SCOTLAND
Zak and Joel travelled south to Perth for the inaugural Youth Tour of Scotland, joining Regional colleagues Andrew and Stephen Brown (Granite City RT). Raced over four stages consisting of a prologue time trial, team time trial and two road stages the Easter weather initially failed to be kind and the four boys faced rain as they took on the cream of the UK’s youth cyclists. The weather improved and the four stages provided a range of results, crashes, hard racing and a learning curve but the most notable observation from the team management and helpers was the enjoyment that the team displayed from start to finish.
Final overall placings: Zak Loney 20th, Andrew Brown 38th, Joel Robertson 65th, Stephen Brown 81st
Zak travelled to Blackpool for the Lewis Balycky Memorial Races along with the Brown brothers from Granite City RT. Again facing a high quality field Zak was prominent throughout the race and as the final corner approached he was at the front end of the peleton ready to come out of the corner. As the final sprint approached the rider in front of Zak clipped his pedal in the corner causing the QL rider to briefly lose his momentum before recovering to finish 8th with his fellow North East riders Andrew and Stephen taking 18th and 21st respectively.
Youth A Boys (U16) Race Result 1 Matthew Gibson Warrington RC; 2 Ellis Kirkbride Border City Wheelers CC; 3 Fabian Brennan Salt Ayre Cogset; 4 Matthew Worton Hetton Hawks Cycling Club; 5 Alex Foster Border City Wheelers CC; 6 Rhys Donnelly Glasgow Riderz; 7 Hamish Carrick Edinburgh CC; 8 Zak Loney Ythan CC; 9 Connor French Cycle Sport Pendle; 10 Oscar Williamson Mossley CRT
ELGIN 10 MILE TT
Ythan had three riders at the Sheriffston 10 mile time trial: 1 Peter Ettles Sandy Wallace Cyles 22:17; 2 Callum Finlayson Forres CC 23:31; 3 Paul Black Elgin CC 23:48; 25 Nick Thom Ythan CC 27:35; 31 Carol Middleton Ythan CC 29:27; 35 Lewis Goodlad Ythan CC (QL) 31:13.
SPRING BUNNY 25TT
The first 25 mile time trial of the season saw cold and wintry conditions but Ythan youth Craig Ward set a remarkable time to claim 13th overall and first youth.
1 Steve Nutley Sandy Wallace 56.56; 2 Keith Robertson GCRT 58:36; 3 Norman Skene GCRT 59:48; 13 Craig Ward Ythan CC 1.06.59; 20 Colin Allanach Ythan CC 1.10.33.
YTHAN HILLY TT
The first promotion from Ythan in 2012 was the traditional Hilly time trial which took in the roads around Auchnagatt, Raxton Hill and Haddo before finishing at Esslemont. Craig Ward stole the show again with another fantastic performance to claim 1st Youth. Veteran Andy Duncan also showed signs that his recent training break in Majorca is paying off with a fine 5th place.
1 Kevin Lackie Moray Cycle RT 49:12; 2 Lee Smith Velo Ecosse 49:21; 3 Simon Van Bellen AWCC 50:04; 5 Andy Duncan Ythan CC 50:54; 6 Craig Ward Ythan CC 52:08 1st Youth; 13 Colin Allanach Ythan CC 54:58; 20 Carol Middleton Ythan CC 01:00:13; 21 Paul Scott Ythan CC 01:01:31; 23 Lewis Goodlad Ythan CC 01:05:08.