Words: Mark McGivern
Images: Michael Martin
Blazing sunshine over Loch Lomond didn’t spoil the occasion as young gun Harry Johnston prevailed at the Battle of Balloch Castle CX. A pre-race deluge brought enough mud to the battlefield to test technique, on a fast and fair course that was well appreciated by more than 100 riders over two races.
A high class field took to battle against a spectacular Loch Lomond backdrop and it was Johnston who took the fight to the Davie Lines and Gary MacDonald from the gun in the A Race. The Pro Vision rider streaked clear on the first lap and ground out a commanding lead that he kept for 11 gruelling laps.
Ominously for the rest of the Scottish CX season, Johnston looked like he had a bit more in the tank as Lines and McDonald duelled it out for the lower podium positions. There was 12 seconds between first and second but trials bike champ MacDonald held on by just three seconds from veteran all rounder Lines. Another young pretender who will be challenging to be top dog in seasons to come was fourth placed Cameron Mason, who had clear daylight between him and veteran Hans Forhaug, from the host club Glasgow United, by the finish.
The main women’s battle played out in the B Race, where a ding-dong battle ensued between Caroline Harvey and Lindsay Branston, which continued all the way to the line. Ultimately, Lindsay never pegged back the deficit caused by an iffy start and went down by ten seconds. The B Race was won by Ed Vickers, followed home by Paul Leavy and Alan McLean.
The race was declared the “best ever” by organiser Stevie Couper, of Glasgow United. Couper, who rode to a decent 15th place in the A Race, said: “This year’s race was undoubtedly even better than the only previous Battle of Balloch Castle, which was last year.