Plowman Craven Evans Cycles' latest signing, sprint sensation Craig MacLean, made his debut in pink and blue at this weekend's Revolution track meeting in Manchester (October 20), only narrowly losing the sprint final to Jason Kenny of the Great Britain squad.
In his first serious competitive outing since injuring a glute during training last month, MacLean gave a master class in sprint tactics as he successfully powered his way through the heats, beating fellow Olympian, and Great Britain squad rider, Jamie Staff, in the opening round and Christian Lyte, another British national team rider, in the semis.
As well as an excellent start for the Scotsman's career with Plowman Craven Evans Cycles, Saturday was just the performance Craig needed to kick start his campaign to secure an Olympic team place for Beijing. Britain is currently blessed with multiple world class sprinters and MacLean will have to work hard to secure his Olympic team place.
"The qualification process will start from the World Cups in November and run all the way to the World Championships in Manchester in March," explained the 36 year-old Scot. "All of your results will count towards your individual ranking and qualification, and with seven sprinters going for three places it's going to be a tough year."
MacLean's was not the only distinctive Plowman Craven Evans Cycles shirt on display on Saturday. In the opening event -– the men's motor paced scratch race over seven kilometres -– team-mates Tony Gibb and Simon Gaywood took on an impressive elite field including British riders Mark Cavendish and Geraint Thomas as well as Liquigas team-mates and Tour de France riders Magnus Backstedt and Francesco Chicci. As the derny peeled off Gibb barged past Backstedt to take the lead and open up a gap, but he was eventually reeled back before Cavendish came over the top of the leading group and narrowly outsprinted Thomas to take the win.
Gibb and Gaywood were also in the action the following day, Sunday October 21, when they travelled south to join team-mates Simon Richardson and Adam Norris for the Bec CC hill climb in Surrey. Contested over the 700 yard White Lane Hill, the event is acknowledged as one of the most severe in the country with an initial gradient of 1 in 6 followed by a strength-sapping 1 in 4 in the second half of the climb. The steepness didn't seem to worry the winner however; Dan Fleeman of Blue Sky Cycles set a new course record of 1'43"02 to win the event, beating Gary Dodd's 12 year-old mark of 1'44"01 to do so. Fleeman's winning time was five seconds faster than second placed Bill Bell of Gemini at 1'48".
Simon Gaywood was the highest placed Plowman Craven Evans Cycles rider home in fifth place at 1'52"43, followed by Simon Richardson in 7th position at 1.54.13. Richardson, a recent convert to the road from mountain biking, clearly has a taste for the steep stuff, having competed in the Catford CC hill climb earlier in the same day, finishing the 707 yard course 4th in 1'56"5.