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Cycling: MacLean contemplates long Commonwealth countdown

Craig MacLean is, in many respects, in limbo.

The buzz of the London Paralympics, where the Grantown-on-Spey-born rider took gold in the tandem sprint as pilot to Anthony Kappes, has passed,

and his next big event is the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow – some 18 months away.

Tomorrow, however, MacLean will compete in the fourth and final round of the Revolution Series at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome.

This will mark the Scottish debut for the popular track cycling event which began in Manchester in 2003.

Commonwealth Games gold medallist MacLean will contest all of the sprint races, joining forces with Callum Skinner and John Paul for the evening's grand finale, billed as Scotland v Rest of the World.

When the 41-year-old last raced in Glasgow, at the Braveheart Cycling Fund ThunderDrome exhibition match in October, he pipped Sir Chris Hoy to sprint bronze.

MacLean laughs heartily at the memory – and even harder when asked what times he hopes to clock.

"I'm certainly not at my best, that was about 10 years ago," he said. "Revolution is more about entertainment. I'm limited in the kind of events I can do. This is probably the highest-profile field I can race in without affecting my status as a tandem pilot.

"There are so few races for para-athletes. In some respects that's a blessing, having just come out of a Paralympic cycle. It's quite nice not to have that pressure. Revolution gives me an outlet that a lot of para-athletes aren't fortunate enough to have."

He admits, however, it can sometimes feel like training in a vacuum. "I don't see myself as a contender for the Olympics in Rio [in 2016]. I'll be 45 then, so I hope there will be someone else at the helm of the tandem by then. The Commonwealth Games, where there will be tandem sprinting, is my next big goal – but maintaining a high level of focus for that length of time can be difficult."

At the 2012 Paralympics, MacLean partnered English rider Kappes, while Barney Storey teamed up with Scotland's Neil Fachie. In Glasgow, the most likely scenario will be Fachie and MacLean representing Scotland.

"There is certainly no other Scottish athlete that could catch Neil at the moment," MacLean said. "Neil and I have formed a pretty decent pairing in the past. We have won double world championship titles. Another youngster, Pete Mitchell, has come across to be a tandem pilot, so Anthony and him will make a formidable pairing. Jason Queally has returned to be a tandem pilot and, of course, there's Barney Storey. That's three potential English tandem pilots. It should be a good competition."

MacLean breaks off at the sound of crying: it is his youngest child, Rory, 15 months. "I do the lion's share of the childcare at the moment: that's my real job when I'm not kidding myself I'm still a bike rider," he added with a laugh.

As for life beyond cycling, he is undecided. "Possibly coaching, as it would be the easy step to take," he said. "I'm resting on my laurels a bit and also a little institutionalised, having been part of the British programme for so long. It would be good to stay in elite sport. Whether that's cycling, we'll wait and see."

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