MOURNERS gathered in Dunfermline yesterday to say a final farewell to late mountain bike star, Rab Wardell.

Family and friends of the 37-year-old gathered at Dunfermline Crematorium for his funeral, following his passing last month.

Rab, who lived in Glasgow with his partner, two-time OIympic cycling gold-medallist, Katie Archibald, died after suffering from a cardiac arrest at home, which came two days after he had won the elite men's title at the Scottish MTN XC (Cross-Country Mountain Bike Series).

In a heartbreaking social media post, Katie revealed that she had tried to resuscitate her partner, who in 2020 set a new record for cycling the iconic West Highland Way, as tributes from the cycling community and beyond poured in.

Ahead of the service, cyclists were invited to gather outside Dunfermline Athletic FC's East End Park, on Halbeath Road, to follow the cortege to the crematorium.

Addressing mourners, Katie said that Rab would always go out of his way to help friends and family, and revealed that he first told her he loved her while they were out on a bike ride together.

"I was aghast, I said ‘you can’t say that here, in the rain, on a bike ride’," she recalled.

"After chastising his timing, I told him the truth, that I loved him too.

"From then on I told him that every day. In some ways, it’s a comfort that Rab knew how much I loved him."

Katie also went on to tell those gathered that, when they were apart, Rab used to send her love songs, and a recording he had sent of himself playing 'You Can Talk To Me' was broadcast.

In it, he could be heard saying "So I had this funny idea to sing you this song", before telling her the "downside for me is it’s all a little high for me, so I will strain and sound silly at some bits, but I’m not scared".

Mourners laughed when, at the end of the song, Rab could be heard swearing as he said it had not been very good.

The Very Reverend Hunter Farquharson, conducting the service, told Katie: "I didn’t know you were going to keep that bit in."

Rab's father, Jack, also paid tribute, joking about that in hindsight it was "no surprise he came in a rush, two days late” when he was born in June 1985.

He told mourners how much his son loved bikes and ended his tribute by saying: "He has touched many people’s hearts and inspired many more.

"He made us laugh, he made us proud. Rest in peace."

Rab, whose first cycling club was Sandy Wallace Cycles, in Inverkeithing, competed for Scotland at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, and ran his own cycling coaching business in Glasgow.

He turned professional in mountain bike racing for the first time this year and, the day before his passing, he had appeared on BBC Scotland's 'The Nine' to discuss his Scottish MTN XC success.

Those paying tribute to Rab included Sir Chris Hoy, Callum Skinner, who won team sprint gold at the Rio Olympics in 2016, Team Scotland, Scottish Cycling and British Cycling.

British Cycling, as part of their tribute, said: "While his achievements on the bike are many, his greatest impact and legacy is in the memories of those who knew him best, who enjoyed chatting with him at bike races, sharing a joke and benefitting from his wisdom and experience.

"His passing leaves an indelible hole in our community, and the number of tributes to him over recent days is testament to the highest regard and admiration in which he was held."

Dunfermline Cycling Club also offered their "deepest sympathy" to his family, friends and loved ones, whilst Rab's close friend Charline Jones - who competed for Scotland on the bike at the 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth Games - described him as "always laughing and just really happy", and who was "loved by so many people".

Another close friend, James McCallum,who raced with Rab and was on the Scottish Cycling board, said that Rab would be "missed worldwide", and added that he was a "standout beacon of hope and determination to anyone in our cycling community".

A collection was taken at the service for mental health charity, Tiny changes, which was close to Rab's heart.

In an online fundraising page for the charity, set up by Jack, it was revealed that Rab was also set to be announced as their first ambassador.

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