Borders riders have been making a huge impact on the world of downhill mountain bike racing over recent months.
And 2019 already looks full of promise for one of them, who is recuperating from injury just now but has big ambitions for the months and years that lay ahead.
Reece Wilson, from Gordon, has only been racing for six years – but the 22-year-old has ascended swiftly through the ranks and is the now the top-placed rider in Scotland.
This season, he became the first Scotsman to gain a World Cup podium, finishing in fourth position at Fort William in the Scotland World Cup.
That fourth place finish earned him rave reviews, with many even saying his run was more impressive than that of the winner and second place riders.
Mountain Bike Rider said of Reece’s success at the time: “Privateer racer Reece Wilson just had one of those out-of-the-blue out-of-body things. The race run of his life.”
That run, added with success in Swizterland, Canada and Italy, has led to the season of his life so far for the Gordon man, even despite a very painful end to it with a crash in September.
“The success has led to me signing my first Factory deal going into 2019, which is what I’ve been working towards for six years,” Reece said.
In September, Reece was one of seven British riders elected for the World Championships in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.
He finished 16th – but only four seconds from the winner, underlining how close the racing can be, and the margins which the youngster has to close if he’s to become champion himself.
Shortly afterwards, injury forced him to the sidelines, but Reece is clear about the way ahead.
“I aim to keep the momentum going into 2019 and make the most of my new team,” he said.
“I am aiming to be consistently inside that top 10 at World Cups and, hopefully one day, become world champion."
Reece finished in and around the top ten at a couple of World Cup events last season, which added to his fourth position in Fort William.
There are 8 Downhill and 8 XCO World Cups in the calendar, with one of those Fort William. At a World Cup, riders can compete as individuals, for factory teams or for their National Teams.
Riders can only enter with a certain number of UCI points, which are earned in other qualifying mountain bike events.
The Olympics and World Championship medals are the most prestigious available in the mountain biking world, but the World Cup events provide the most rounded picture of the best and most consistent riders competing around the world.
Reece attained seventh place at Val Di Sole in the Italy World Cup and 18th at Mont Saint Anne in the Canada World Cup, ending the year 18th overall and the leading Scottish rider.
However, on September 15, he suffered a shoulder separation after crashing at Red Bull Hardline, an invitation-only event in Wales.
“Luckily, RedBull got me scanned and operated on within a week,” Reece said on his crash.
“I’m already well into the recovery/rehab stages now and looking to be back training in the gym and on the roads in a few weeks.”