Second place finish for Dan

Ballater’s Dan Whitehead finished second in the seniors event at the Scottish cyclo-cross championships in Clydebank last Sunday.

Whitehead, a two time winner of the event, finished as runner-up behind Gareth Montgomery of GT Racing UK.

The Deeside cyclist said muddy conditions on the course made it a tough race.

“It was a really treacherous course,” he said. “I was leading for a lot of the way but I couldn’t hang on for gold and got caught towards the end.”

Whitehead, a keen cyclist on all surfaces, compares cyclo-cross to a runner’s cross-country season.

He said: “It is a mix of short, intense racing which really tests your bike handling skills. It’s a good way of ticking over during the winter months when there is a break from other forms of cycling.

“There are a number of obstacles, both natural and man-made, which means you have to carry the bike over your shoulder for a short distance.”

Although cyclo-cross has been around for about 100 years it has really started to gain popularity over the last decade.

The sport is strongest in the traditional road cycling countries such as Belgium, France and the Netherlands but Whitehead believes a lot more people have started to try cyclo-cross in recent years.

He said: “The sport is definitely growing here. Over the last five years I think the number of competitors has tripled. There are now about 300-400 people taking part in each race.”

This year allowed Whitehead to compete at a Scottish Championships series event in his hometown.

“It was great to be able to compete over a course in Ballater,” he said.

“The competitors seemed to enjoy it and people who came out to watch also said it was great.

“Cyclo-cross allows cyclists to compete over the winter months and it is also great training for the following season. It is definitely better than spending three or four hours training in the cold!”