West Lothian Clarion earn podium spots at cyclo cross finale
Members of West Lothian Clarion finished the Scottish Cyclo-Cross Series on a high with some fine rides in the final round
Strathclyde Park, near Motherwell, proved to be a happy hunting ground for the club as they had no fewer than five riders on the podium.
Alex Ball topped his third place in 2015 with a hard fought win in the under 16s category, crossing the line 30 seconds ahead of series leader Corran Carrick Anderson of Peebles CC.
In a characteristic fast start, Ball gapped his opponents in the first kilometre.
However he had a setback when but a mechanical problem put him back into second place - and some 30 seconds behind Carrick Anderson - by the end of the first lap with West Lothian Clarion clubmate George Freeman chasing hard in third place.
But Ball wasn’t the only rider to suffer problems. The course was muddy, with flint causing a number of mechanical issues throughout the race.
And midway through the second lap, the Peebles rider dropped his chain and Ball took full advantage by pressing hard to open up a lead as he sought to make the most of his opportunity.
Alex admitted: “I knew I had to a smash it to keep Corran at bay and I almost overcooked it on one corner”.
Ball managed to extend his lead into an unassailable position and enjoyed raising his arms in his stongest showing of the season.
Meanwhile behind Freeman’s strong performance was good enough for third, with the podium finishers a long way ahead of their nearest rivals.
Ball has been one of the club’s star performers in recent years and it was a fitting way for him to end his youth career before he steps up an age category.
Ball said “I’m so happy to get my first Series win in my last youth race.
“West Lothian’s Excellence in School Sport sessions have helped me get stronger over the year so credit has to be give to the Council’s fitness programme, as well as the club’s coaching and regional sessions.”
In the overall series standing Ball secured second place and Freeman moved up to third overall to achieve Clarion’s best ever national CX results.
But Ball and Freeman weren’t Clarion’s only successes.
In the under 14 boys’ race, Sam Chisholm used the full 40 minutes to move up through the pack, picking riders off through the technical sections of the course, while Abbie Mason put in another strong showing to take third in the girls’ race.
Chisholm has been there or thereabouts throughout the season but the fast finisher made sure he ended the season on a high, saying afterwards: “It’s my first podium in the series, but I’m slightly disappointed not to get second. It was so close!”
In the under 8s, Rhuairdh Fulton’s persistence paid off with a dominant performance to secure his first win of the Series.