Kerry MacPhee: I feel I belong here now

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Kerry MacPhee says her season ending ride in Istanbul has finally made her realise she deserves to race in elite company against the top mountain bikers in the world and that she can compete against anyone.

The South Uist cyclist brought the curtain down on another phenomenal season with a star showing in Istanbul where she rode well, finished strongly and learned a number of key lessons.

Most importantly that she can challenge at the top level and even the world’s top ranked riders are beatable.

“I’m stoked to finish the season on such a high in Istanbul and I’m really chuffed with how my race went,” beamed MacPhee.

Gridding ninth amidst a number of illustrious rivals and riders such as Maja Wolzczsovska (recently second at the Olympics) Jana Belomina and Alexandra Engen - Kerry hoped the course’s long climbs could suit her.

“It was an eight-lap race and as soon as the gun went, I just felt good and felt strong and committed.

“Heaps better than in Alanya and surprisingly fresh as this is my fourth race in the past two weeks,” she recalled.

Reflecting on the race and the tactical battles of trying to reel in and subsequently pass by rival riders Kerry laughs as she lifts the lid on the fierce competitiveness on the track which can make mountain biking seem like chess on wheels.

Progressing through the pack requires strategy, patience and nerve as well as fearlessness and pace.

“I had an interesting time racing Irina Popova from Ukraine,” explained Kerry.

“She was aggressive, the kind of rider who is shoving to get past and not letting you pass if she comes off her bike. She didn’t disappoint today either.

“When she accidentally unclipped after trying to tactfully make me come off, she deliberately blocked my exit from a bomb hole with her front wheel so I came off too. We caught her Ukranian male junior team mate on the descent off his bike and she shouted at him something in Ukranian and he blocked my way too.

“Then got on his bike from completely dismounted in-between us. I was so furious it didn’t take me long to catch her up again. She finally got another gap when my skewer came loose and I was determined to make lap 8 a race to the line and do anything I could do beat her into fourth.”

Kerry continued: “However disaster struck again with 1km to go as I was on her wheel again when my rear mech went into my back wheel, breaking two spokes and becoming completely mangled. Gutted! I did a very painful run to the finish and was caught by one other competitor to finally finish sixth.”

Crossing the line after completing all eight scheduled laps was a huge triumph for Kerry despite her tactical battle with Popova with Kerry thrilled at her final result.

“I really enjoyed the race, my laps were consistent and I felt strong,” she said.

“At 8 laps, I would normally be lapped out by the 80 per cent rule and I wasn’t so that was fantastic. I have been lapped out in every World Cup I have done (you still get a finish position) so this was a mega achievement! Because the laps were shorter, the chances of getting pulled were even higher.”

She continued: “At the end of the race I sought her out to shake her hand at the end and was surprised that her coach sought me out later to shake my hand. I’ll take it as a complement that Irina didn’t want me to get by her but her cards are marked.

“I’ve learnt that a lot of girls like Irina who is ranked 22nd in the world and another competitor Crogorac (16th in the world) who I beat today have amazing rankings because they have raced a million races through the year thereby collecting lots of points, rather than because they are amazing (though they still are) so I need to stop feeling intimidated and race like I deserve to be there, which I feel I did do today.”

Kerry would like to thank everyone involved who help her along the way beginning with notably Rock and Rock Cycles, Loch Duart, Jo Walters, Scottish Cycling, the institute of Sport, MacInnes Bros, and all her friends and family.