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Classic Walls Edinburgh Grand Prix
June 28-29, 2003
MacLean takes the plaudits at Classic Walls Edinburgh Grand Prix
By David Hoy
The Classic Walls Edinburgh Grand Prix was judged a massive success by riders, spectators, sponsors and organisers after two days of engrossing racing that drew the biggest crowd to the Meadowbank Velodrome since the 1986 commonwealth Games.
Craig MacLean was the star of the first day’s action, taking the sprint title for the sixth time. The World Team Sprint gold medallist was the fastest qualifier with a 10.95 seconds clocking and, after easing through his first round match with Mike Cubison and Pavel Buran, he beat South African Dean Edwards then eliminated Ivan Vrba of the Czech Republic to earn a place in the final against Barry Forde of Barbados.
Forde took the first leg in a tight finish, but MacLean bounced back and led all the way in the second, then made an early break in the decider and held on to take the title 2-1.
The day’s racing was marred by several spills, the worst involving James Taylor, who sustained a broken collarbone in a crash on the last bend of the Devil final that will keep him out of action for six weeks.
In other events, Kieran Page was outstanding in the distance races. His British under 23 colleague Russell Anderson also performed well throughout the weekend, while local rider Evan Oliphant showed he was happy to mix it with the top racers, and Richard Chapman had a good Grand Prix that proved he was returning to his best.
MacLean teamed up with his fellow world champion Chris Hoy and Commonwealth team sprint bronze medallist Marco Librizzi to win the final event of the first day, the World Team Sprint Challenge against a trio comprising Marco Brossa, Vrba and Chiappa, breaking the track record by almost three seconds in the process.
Scotland’s rising star Kate Cullen dominated the women’s events after Denise Hampson and Julie Paulding failed to show, chalking up an impressive tally of wins over the two days.
There was disappointment for the home supporters on day two when MacLean opted out of the Sprinters Omnium after the first event, leaving Barry Forde of Barbados and the Czech Republic’s Pavel Buran to fight it out for the top prize. In the end, it was the latter who took the winner’s cheque on count back with two wins against Forde’s one.
Hoy’s bid to lower his 500 metres flying start record was blown away in the cold blustery conditions. The double World champion recorded 28.39 seconds, 17 hundredths outside the existing best.
However, it later transpired that the first of his two laps, clocked at 13.51 seconds, was quick enough to erase MacLean’s 250 metres flying start best from the record books.
Among the young riders, Kevin Barclay looked good, while 14 year old Tom Mackay of the local junior club Edinburgh Racers was rewarded for his efforts with the overall prize in the youths Omnium ahead of his colleagues Patrick Galbraith and Ross Mitchell.