WIIGA PREVIEW - Cycling - blood, sweat and gears

With great talent, and enormous pedigree, comes great expectations.

Golden girls Kirsty and Kerry Macphee show off their haul from the 2015 Island Games.
Golden girls Kirsty and Kerry Macphee show off their haul from the 2015 Island Games.

Any squad with the likes of super siblings Kerry and Kirsty MacPhee on the list carries with them enormous expectations and hopes of glory.

After all the pair swept away all before them in Jersey two years ago.

Kerry took gold in both the MTB Cross Country and the MTB Criterium with Kirsty a comfortable silver in both which earned the Kilphedar fliers the team gold gongs at the same time for the Western Isles.

The magnificent MacPhee’s are among Britain’s best mountain bikers with Kerry a regular rider in the World Cup and famously the first, and so far only, athlete ever from the Hebrides to represent Scotland at the Commonwealth Games.

Western Isles Island Games Association Cycling team manager Christina Mackenzie is also a regular on podiums around both the UK and the continent. A multi-athlete, endurance and long distance specialist, and another who has a pile of Island Games medals hanging on her fireplace at home.

In Bermuda 2013 she took home a hat-trick of medals so with her leading the charge and ably supported by the MacPhee’s – hopes of glory for the women in the cycling team is understandably high.

“Hopefully Kerry and Kirsty they can go back and retain the titles they won in Jersey and another clean sweep of gold and silver would be fantastic but it won’t be easy,” says Christina. “We’ve had a look at the courses online and most of them are flat which means it’ll just be really fast and flat out from the get-go.”

She continued: “Everybody knows how good Kerry is. I think the break in Australia has recharged her batteries and she is racing again and doing really well.

“And Kirsty is consistently top 10 in the British Series. She has also been doing road and crit races with me over the last few weeks. She is firing on all cylinders and I’ve managed to persuade her to race both on the road and mountain bike events.”

This means Kirsty faces a gruelling schedule in Gotland where she will be racing every day for five days straight. Her week begins with the road race on Monday, mountain bike cross country event on Tuesday, Time trial on Wednesday, mountain bike Criterium on Thursday and road Criterium on Friday.

“It’s going to be a busy week for Kirsty and for a few of us,” smiles Christina, who in addition to managing the team of cyclists will be opening her schedule by competing in the triathlon on Sunday, before gettong on her bike on monday, Wednesday and Friday.

In preparation for Gotland she has been racing in a number of sprint triathlon’s to get fit and work on her speed. At this stage of the season it is only sprint available at the moment.

“The TT is my strongest bike discipline and the most reflective of triathlon and I’m doing ok in that,” reveals Christina. “And moving forward I have the Scottish 25 mile, 50 mile and 100 mile races coming soon which I will be concentrating on along with triathlon.”

As well as the golden girls there are two male members of the Team WIIGA who will be hoping they can pedal onto the podium and make an impression in Gotland.

Stuart Ashley and Craig McCulloch will be steering the good ship Western Isles onto the road races in Sweden and Christina says both have been preparing well for the summer.

“The whole squad has been fitting into place well,” says Christina.

“Stuart has been on the mainland competing well in mainland road races and time trials events. He is from Scalpay and he has a strong record in cycling having race competitively in his younger years.

“He has been doing really well in his age groups. He will be doing road race, TT and road Criterium in Gotland.

“And Craig has been entering a lot of Scottish series races. He has put a lot of work in and he is riding well and sensibly at the moment to avoid potential of getting injured. Hopefully he will be peaking when he gets to Gotland.”