Gordon Murdoch (East Kilbride RC) added the opening GP win of 2007 – in a freezing, wet and windy Rosneath GP event – to the 2006 season-closing Anderside GP event. Weighing a stone less than last season and with a new team providing fresh motivation, he was the most resilient rider on a day better suited to sitting by the fireside than climbing Whistlefield Brae three times.
Second was versatile Jonathan Copp (Deeside) and third Paul Coats (SVMR).
It was cold when we left Kirkcaldy this morning, and snowing hard by the time we passed Kirk o’ Shotts; Sunday brunch in Cafe Gandolfi beckoned, but it was back to torrential rain in Glasgow and we pushed-on. It was dry down at Garelochhead though, but the mountains all around were capped with snow.
That white stuff caused a change of race route, the M.O.D. road at the north end of the course being well dusted. Rather than the traditional loop around the Rosneath peninsula, the route headed out along Gare Lochside in the opposite direction from usual, going all the way round the coast to Coulport; where in best time trial fashion it turned at the roundabout and retraced to the start.
After this, it was left up the dreaded Whistlefield at Garelochhead and another roundabout turn a mile or two beyond the summit, then back down Whistlefield; to be repeated three times.
The sun was out when a well wrapped-up and rather reluctant bunch headed out from Garelochhead along a flooded Gare Lochside. It wasn’t long until sleet replaced the sunshine, and at Ardpeaton the bunch also had to contend with waves breaking over the road!
First to call it a day was Andrew Nicell – he wouldn’t be the last. Out of the roundabout at Coulport there were six riders clear, including Jason Macintyre, his new Edge RT colours wrapped up in a cape. It was 30 seconds to the bunch then another 30 seconds to a group of seven.
Back along the Loch side we passed an awful lot of solo casualties and by time the race hit Whistlefield for the first time the group of six had become ten and the race was effectively over if you weren’t in that group.
Paul Rennie (Edge) took the prime, Raymond Wilson (Dunfermline), Jonathan Copp (Deeside), Stewart McGregor and Jason all looked comfy and it was wearing-on for two minutes before the seven chasers appeared, led by Phil Brown.
On the descent of Whistlefield the gap was two minutes as the race entered lap two.
At this juncture we decided there was little to be gained by following the bunch all the way to Coulport and back, the race pattern was decided, but it was too early for heroics. Instead we headed-off in search of fuel and food – we had to go all the way to Helensburgh and passed the Peace Campers at the submarine base en-route; beats working I guess.
The second time up Whistlefield the ten were nine, Dunfermline mountain test winner, Arthur Doyle (Ivy) having lost his place.
Nine became eight as Colin Ash (Cestria CC) punctured on the prime line and had to change a rear wheel.
The winner comes out the break?
It was three minutes plus back to the chasers, and we had a repeat wheel-change performance with Kevin Barclay (Evans) – but he did a get a quicker change than Mr. Ash.
On the decent there was one rider clear and motoring – Jason. Putting his nice new Cervelo through it’s paces, punctures or crashes apart the race was won – or so we thought. However, an hour later it was Gordon Murdoch ridng strongly into sight up to the finish atop Whistlefield; but what happened to Jason’s bid?
What they said
We grabbed second finisher, Jonathan Copp just after he crossed the line to get the story straight from the horse’s mouth:
“Jason went away but there were still guys riding strongly in the bunch and he was pulled back, he went again, this time with Stewart McGregor. But behind we kept grafting away, particularly Raymond Wilson and myself, so they didn’t open a big gap.
“Stewart blew and came back, then Gordon went across to – and past – Jason. I just kept chasing, I looked back and saw I had a gap and kept going. I thought maybe I could get up to Gordon before the finish, but when I hit the finish hill I knew I couldn’t catch him. The cold just gradually ate into you today, it was a hard day.”
We didn’t catch winner, Gordon until he was changed and warm in the strip:
“Jason and Stewarty had a gap of 30 seconds at Coulport for the last time but me and Raymond Wilson rode hard and got it down to about 10 seconds. Stewart cracked on the climb at Rosneath and came back. I jumped across to Jason but he didn’t get on my wheel – he had gone by then.
“I concentrated on getting the gap before the finishing climb, I knew that once I was on that no one would get across to me. Timing was everything today, it was so hard into that wind but it was a good agressive race. I’ll be riding all the Grand Prix’s this year, I won’t be doing Girvan though, I’ll be riding in Ireland at Easter.”
Fourth finisher, Raymond Wilson told us:
“I felt great with 15 miles to go, then I lost the feeling in my hands and I just couldn’t get my gels and food from my jersey pockets, on a day like today if you don’t eat then you”ve had it.”
A good race, a deserving winner and a great start to the 2007 GP series.
1. Gordon Murdoch (East Kilbride)
2. Jonathan Copp (Deeside)
3. Paul Coats (SVMR)
4. Ray Wilson (Dunfermline)
5. Jason Macintyre (Edge)
6. Stewart McGregor (Velo Ecosse)
7. Brian Pool (Andersons)
8. Paul Rennie (Edge)
9. Colin Ash (Cestria CC)
10. Jim Murdoch (Edge)
VeloVeritas reckons a special mention should go to Tom Dempster (Edge): 15th over 90 tough miles, and still a junior!