Three north-east riders will go to wheel to wheel with the sport’s elite when Tour Series cycling returns to Aberdeen.
The popular event, which will arrive in the city for this year’s third round on May 16, is expected to feature the likes of Vitus Pro Cycling’s Ed Clancy.
Clancy, who has competed in Aberdeen the last two years – and was first across the finish line last year – is a triple Olympic gold medallist. He has won the team pursuit gold on the track at the last three Games.
He will be joined on the 1.3km course, which this year starts and finishes on Broad Street, by three semi-pro riders from the Aberdeen area.
Dave Reed, 43, Tom Gelati, 30, and Jamie Davidson, 30, are part of a team showcasing some of Scottish cycling’s best talents.
They could also ride in Motherwell and Durham, but it’s their home Granite City leg they’re looking forward to.
Dave, an IT worker in oil and gas, said: “It’s the chance to race against full-on pros. Guys who are doing it day in and day out.
“It will be a fantastic experience just to get into that pace of race, and there are more crowds out, it’s a lot more of a spectacle.
“And you get on telly!”
He joked he expects to be “pushed hard” by the likes of Clancy and Commonwealth Games medallist Jon Mould.
Jamie – a petrophysicist by day – echoed Dave’s excitement, saying: “It’s an opportunity to race against people you might not normally get the chance to.
“Usually our races aren’t on closed roads. They’re on open roads in the middle of nowhere, the weather’s awful.
“Having the crowd all the way round the course in Aberdeen will be something special.”
Tom, who works part-time so he can dedicate more hours to his cycling training, thinks it’s important to showcase the talent which exists below the top level.
He said: “As a team we represent some of the strongest riders in Scotland as well.
“It’s given them a platform, especially the Under-23 guys, to ride against elite racers.”
For all three riders, there’s an element of balancing their training with other commitments.
That’s been amplified as they ramp up training for the elite race in Aberdeen, which starts at 7pm.
Dave said: “You’re doing a 9-5 job and you try to fit in 10-12 hours a week.
“For folks like me who are getting on a bit, it’s the recovery.
“It’s quite hard to recover from working and training.”
Jamie added: “It’s maybe about changing the type of training we do.
“For a road race, it’s a different skill set and physical challenge.
“You just have to change the structure in the run up to it, make sure you have quick legs and do your best.”
The local athletes can’t wait to perform in front of their family and friends.
However, having participated in some of the support races in the previous years, they’ve been amazed by the crowds that gather to watch the Tour Series.
Tom said: “Having done the support races in the past, it blows your mind how many people come out.
“You hear them shouting your name from every different corner.
“You think: ‘I don’t even know if I know who that person is.’”