Jason MacIntyre: Time trial cycling champion


Jason MacIntyre, cyclist: born Lochgilphead, Argyll 20 September 1973; married (two daughters); died 15 January 2008

Jason MacIntyre's career as one of Britain's leading road cyclists was just taking off at the time of his death in a collision with a vehicle while training near Fort William on Tuesday. MacIntyre had secured three British titles in his speciality – time trialling – as well as 13 Scottish titles. The current holder of the national 25-mile championships for a second time, MacIntyre had been strongly tipped for a possible place in the Beijing Olympics this August.

Not only that, but he had recently received a grant from the Braveheart fund – an independent organisation which backs Scottish racing cyclists of all categories – with a view to concentrating on the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games in 2010. Without such financial backing, this would have been no easy task: MacIntyre's "day job" was as full-time carer for one of his twin daughters, now eight years old, who suffers from a kidney condition.

"We had given Jason the grant because he was essentially a one-man band with very limited funding," the former Scotland rider and Braveheart founder Bryan Smith said. "Working as a carer, you don't get a lot of money. It says a lot about the quality of Jason as a person that he was prepared to put in so much time into looking after his daughter. Time trialling is a very individual sport, but for his family and when riding for Scotland he was always a team player, 100 per cent."

Many have found parallels between MacIntyre's early career and that of another Scottish time-trialling hero, Graeme Obree. Like Obree, MacIntyre started riding relatively late – at 18 – and moved swiftly towards time trialling. This is one of the most mentally and physically exhausting types of racing in which the rider, alone and unsupported, is timed over a set distance, his only rival the stop-watch.

But if Obree preferred time trialling because it was an individual challenge, for MacIntyre – who recently broke Obree's Scottish 10-mile record in the speciality – it was a question of necessity. Looking after his child, coupled with living in the remote north-west of Scotland, made it difficult for MacIntyre to do other kinds of racing – and at the same time, those logistical problems made his achievements all the more impressive.

Fate seemed to conspire, sometimes, to get in the way of greater recognition: in last year's national time trial, MacIntyre was ahead of the Tour de France star and eventual winner David Millar when a puncture scuppered his chances of victory. But not even that stroke of bad luck could prevent MacIntyre from finally coming in for consideration for Olympic selection – a dream he had already helped other riders to achieve.

"Back in 1996 he helped me keep the Tour of the Kingdom, a race which I was winning, under control, despite not being a team-mate – just because he was that sort of unselfish kind of bloke," Smith recalls. "Winning that race gave me the chance to go to the Olympics – it's just awful that now he won't have that chance, and we'll never know what he could have achieved."

A trust is being set up by the Braveheart fund to help MacIntyre's wife and children.

Alasdair Fotheringham

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