PREVIEW: Northern Individual Championships at Edinburgh

The 2018 Northern League Individual Championships will see new names etched into the role of honour, with guaranteed first time winners in each category.

For the first time the Championships are being staged at Edinburgh’s Redbraes Park raceway, as part of the Falcons 40th anniversary celebrations.

With the closing date for entries extended, nine further riders will now compete (which has given each event a very competitive field).

Seniors (start time 4pm)

Adam Watson (2017 winner) is at Poole racing in the junior Laurels, meaning he is unable to defend the title.

Five riders took advantage of the extended entry date, Astley duo of Ciaran Collins and Kyle Holland the most likely to challenge for honours. Both have International and Euro Club experience (Kyle with Sheffield also) and will be looking to use that to aim for the podium. Kyle was fifth in this event in 2014 at Northumbria, when racing in Sheffield colours.

Jake Slight will be looking to put home track knowledge to good use (the picture, from George Swanson) shows Jake passing Kris Ramsden – another of today’s contenders, in last week’s Edinburgh v Bury match.

The home team have four further riders in Neil McPherson, Dominic Cifelli, Jason Keith and Marcin Czarkowski. Glasgow are represented by their number one and two, Andy MacDougal and Joe Beuckmann.

Edinburgh based Niall Morton will carry the Sheffield colours, the 2015 under 16 champion having previous podium experience. The line up is completed by Dan Thompson (Northumbria) and Craig Hardie (Fife). Hardie, runner up in the Scottish Open, will probably have targeted the Vets title as his main target (will five more races take it’s toll).

Women’s (start time 4pm)

The list of previous winners is very impressive (Laura Watson, Sandra Tamborska, Vicky Brown, Ellie Sullivan and Niamh Morton), with World, British and European champions and podium places collected.

Three Edinburgh girls Amy McDonald, Skye Mitchell and Jemma McPherson will battle with Fife’s Maja Nowacyzk to join that illustrious list. Skye, with her experience of competing for the North And Scotland regional team, should start as slight favourite.

Vets (+40) – start time 2.30pm

The vets racing is so popular, the event has attracted the most riders, and is probably the most open (with a champion difficult to select).

Craig Hardie (Fife) has won many Scottish titles at other cycle disciplines but here he will face several league one level riders for the first time.

Jason Keith has finished on the podium several times in recent years. Now based at Edinburgh, after a winter move from Northumbria, will home track advantage be in his favour.

The Falcons also have chances with Dode Mitchell, Iain MacDonald, the master Johnny Murphy and a surprise entry for Neil Swanson. Regular Euro Vets riders Terry Kirkup, Paul Thompson, Shane Gray (Northumbria) and Colin Gray, Jim Alexander and Joe Beuckmann (Glasgow) will all have the experience to challenge for the podium.

The final places are filled by Mark Brundrett and Paul Graham from league champions Astley. Paul warmed up with an unbeaten score at Gin Pit last week against Sheffield, and was third in this event in 2017.

Under 19 (start time 2.30pm)

Late entries from Adam Turnbull (Bury) and Ciaran Collins (Astley) have turned this into a very exciting competition. Both have scored well for the North and Scotland representative team this year.

Niall Morton, fifth in the British junior final in 2017 and 2015 under 16 champion, has all the attributes required by a champion, but has nine equally determined riders to challenge him.

Kielan Burton joins Niall in wearing the Sheffield colours, and may well be racing here as newly crowned under 16 champion. Eryk Motala scored well here for Bury last week, so should know the quickest way round Redbraes.

Dan Thompson (Northumbria) may find the lack of match racing to his detriment, the Vikings having withdrawn from League racing in 2018. The final four competitors Jake Ferguson, John Hutton, James Keenlyside and Lewis Alsop represent the Fife Revolution and it will be interesting to see how they race in this sort of company.

Under 16 (start time 1pm)

At the moment the sole entry is Sheffield’s Kielan Burton. Kielan is scoring well for the Stars in both League One and Two matches and leads the BYJL under 14 regional grand prix with a maximum 75 points.

He may well end up being the first rider to pick up a title without turning a wheel.
There are three places to be filled, hopefully some will come forward to provide a challenge.

Under 13 (start time 1pm)

John White (Astley) will start favourite to keep the title in Team Greens trophy cabinet (2017 winner was Emily Burgess). John is leading the regional under 12 BYJL series, as he aims to win the national title he carried off last year.

Tom Morrissey, also from Astley (under 10 champion in 2017), will be his main challenger. Glasgow trio of Zander Park, Ben Hutton and Jake Lawrie are stepping up from local racing, so the experience will be invaluable. Aaron Smith and Amy McDonald (Edinburgh) complete the line up, again the experience of racing at this level will assist their development.

Under 10 (start time 1pm)

Astley will be hoping one of their quartet of Aiden Green, Fraser Brundrett, Duncan Whalley and Frank White can lift the title that was won by Tom Morrissey in 2017.

Aiden (under 8) and Duncan (under 10) both lead their category in the Regional little league grand prix series. Fraser (winner of the under 10 GP round at Astley) and Frank (TLI under 8 road race champion) both know what it takes to finish on top of the podium.

Nathan Slight and Maxwell Newsome (Edinburgh) are the youngest riders racing, so their title prospects may come in a few years time. Final spot is taken by Edward Balfour (Sheffield), who is improving with every race meeting. This will be his first visit to the Edinburgh track, how he adapts will have a bearing on his title chances.