Scotland is mourning the tragic death of Jason MacIntyre, arguably the nation's finest road time trialist who was on track to represent the UK at the Beijing Olympics.
MacIntyre was struck down by a Highland Council Transit van while out on a training ride on the A82 at approximately 13:34 GMT, on Tuesday, January 15. He was taken to Belford Hospital, where he later passed away.
"There's no doubt Jason was one of the most talented riders to come out of Scotland in the last decade, if not longer," former national coach Graeme Herd, who managed MacIntyre at the 2002 Commonwealth Games, told braveheartfund.com. "He achieved an incredible amount of success, and enjoyed a very good career, in challenging circumstances. It is a tragic waste that he has lost his life at such a young age."
The Scotsman's tragic passing comes just one day after the 34 year-old was informed that he'd been granted funding by the Braveheart Cycling Fund to train for the 2010 Commonwealth Games as a potential medalist. MacIntyre was also being considered for the British Olympic squad.
MacIntyre won the Road Time Trials Council (RTTC) national 25-mile championship in 2006 and 2007, the British time trial championship in 2006, and was supposedly up on David Millar in the 2007 British time trial championships until he punctured. "He was the best road cyclist in Scotland and as good as anyone in Britain," Bryan Smith, a former Scotland manager and Olympic rider, told TheHerald.co.uk. "He was in the prime of his career.
"Jason was good when he was young, but achieved a serious breakthrough in later life – a bit like Obree," he added. "He was certainly on a par with David Millar in last year's time trial until he had a puncture."
Last year MacIntyre broke Graeme Obree's Scottish 10-mile time trial record in, clocking 18:47, and came close to beating Bradley Wiggins' national 10 mile record of 17'58 last August, clocking 18'12 in an event held at Levens.
"It's tragic," said Scottish World and Commonwealth cycling champion Craig MacLean. "I think Jason was being considered for the Olympic squad in Beijing later this year and that would have been the pinnacle of his career."
In addition to his battles on the bike, MacIntyre was forced to overcome personal hurdles in order to achieve success. The rider temporarily retired from cycling in 2003 to care for one of his twin daughters, Morgan, who was placed on life support after experiencing difficulties during an operation on her kidneys. Morgan, who was eight years old at the time, later received a kidney transplant by Jason's father David.
"We are very sad for Caroline and the two girls and our thoughts are with them," said director of operations at Scottish Cycling Jackie Davidson. "Jason was a rider with so much talent and potential."
Our condolences go out to his family, friends and fans. Anyone wishing to write a tribute to MacIntyre should direct it to firstname.lastname@example.org.