Who is European Championship surprise Cameron Mason, a Scot who dreams of clay, mud and sand? ‘Pidcock and Van der Poel are bad examples’


A Briton on the podium at the European Cyclocross Championships? That will stick around for a while. Because since the introduction of the elite category in 2015, all medals went to Belgians and Dutch. And now there is Cameron Mason (23), a Scot who moved to Boom specifically to learn the trade. “Glad you asked if I’m a little disappointed too.”

BANovember 7, 202303:00

Analyst Niels Albert had already predicted it a month and a half ago: “Keep an eye on Cameron Mason.”

We now know why: 5th in Overijse, 4th at the Koppenberg, 2nd at the European Championships. The 23-year-old Scot seems ready to claim his place among the sub-top of cyclo-cross. His nationality alone – not Belgian, not Dutch – makes him interesting. Mason laughs. “There is a lot of cyclo-crossing going on in Scotland. We have a real cross-culture.” The fact that we don’t know them here is because everything takes place at amateur level.

Cameron Mason next to European champion Michael Vanthourenhout: ‘There is a real cross-culture in Scotland.’Image Photo News

Mason grew up in Linlithgow, a town with over 16,000 inhabitants west of Edinburgh. Little Cameron took part in some local cross country every weekend – “Imagine 500 to 600 participants, from the U10s to the veterans,” he says. Those many competitions in the field explain where his good technique comes from. But because he was quite small and frail as a teenager, it took a while for his talent to be noticed. “I have changed a lot physically over the past three years,” he says. “I have gained a lot of weight, all muscles, and now I can physically keep up with the rest.”

His silver medal in Pontchâteau is the provisional highlight of his career. “I have a feeling it’s not going to stop here, but if this was the peak of my season, I won’t be dissatisfied either. There are worse times to ride your best cross.”

Mason is happy when we check his feelings, 24 hours after his writ. “Everyone thinks I’m super happy, and that’s true, but I want to say that there is also a little bit of disappointment. That’s normal in top sport: it can be even better, and that’s what I’m going for.”

The European Championships in France were important to him for another reason: his grandfather died two days before. “My podium finish was a tribute to him and to my mother. I have drawn strength from that. I was too focused during the race, but when I rode up the last climb and turned onto the last straight line, I thought of him. It’s a bit funny: my grandfather had a rather old-fashioned view of cyclists on public roads, he didn’t like that, but he didn’t miss a single one of my races in front of his TV.”

Cameron Mason crosses the finish line, pointing his finger to heaven.Image Photo News

Mason calls Tom Pidcock an inspiration. “He is a year older and has followed more or less the path I am following now. I just had to watch him to learn.” With which he does not want to put himself next to his better-known compatriot. “Men like Pidcock or Van der Poel are bad examples,” he says. “What they do makes you think that anything is possible in cycling. But they have an exceptional talent. They can do everything, while for most riders it is better to specialize if you want to build a professional career.”

Mason doesn’t know what direction his career will take. “Where will I be in five years? I really do not know.” Cross-country racing is getting better and better, but he believes he can also “make a difference” on the road. Gravel or mountain bike are also possible, disciplines he has been practicing since his youth. “I was four years old and I already lived on two wheels,” he says. “I come from a cycling family. I have cousins ​​who were involved in racing. At weekends and during the holidays we went cycling with the family in the Scottish Highlands, we slept in a youth hostel or went camping. In the beginning I clicked my trailer bike to the back dadAfterwards I rode my mountain bike myself. I enjoy doing it all. I think I’m with the right team (the Cyclocross Reds of the brothers Roodhooft, BA). Here I can discover what suits me best.”

Cameron Mason comes from a cycling family. 'I have cousins ​​who were involved in racing.' Image Photo News
Cameron Mason comes from a cycling family. ‘I have cousins ​​who were involved in racing.’Image Photo News

In the winter months his focus has been on cyclocross for a few years. That Mason is serious is proven by the fact that he lives in Boom during the cross season. “There is no better place to learn the trade than in Belgium.” But how did he end up here? “A different story. I am quite active on social media and YouTube. One day a guy came up to me for a game: Dave. He said he had seen a few videos of me. We started talking and it clicked. Today we are friends, and I live with him in his apartment in Boom. Dave is now my personal soigneur and my cameraman. He made images and I edited them.”

Mason feels like a kind of ambassador for the cross. “I think it’s nice when young guys aged 13 or 14 send me a message or respond to a video and say that they look up to me. I try to give them tips and show them that cross is hard work, but is also fun at the same time. I still remember my first cross in Belgium. That was not such a success. I was still a junior, it was the cyclocross in Zonhoven. I stood there with my mud tires, but it was 25 degrees and bone dry. I arrived at the first sandy strip, sank completely into it with my bike and stood completely still. I have learned a lot since then.” (laughs)

The article is in Dutch

Tags: European Championship surprise Cameron Mason Scot dreams clay mud sand Pidcock Van der Poel bad examples


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