When it became apparent that the 2007 Veterans’ Road Race Championship — over 65 wet and hilly miles at Alford – would end in a sprint finish, most bets were on fast-finisher Graham McGarrity (Edge RT).

John Kermode (Dundee Thistle) had other ideas however and McGarrity had to settle for second.

Kermode was, understandably; ‘delighted’, whilst McGarrity: ‘hates to lose a sprint, especially in vets’ race!’

The car computer read 13 degrees as the field rolled-out of Alford Ski Centre but the rain which would persist throughout the event, coupled with a cold breeze, made it feel chilly – especially on the higher points of the two 30-odd mile loops around the Correen Hills which fringe the Grampian Mountains.

Some local spectators.
Some local spectators.

Favourites included McGarrity, a former winner of the Scottish senior road race championships, Jim Cusick (Glasgow Couriers) the current Scottish 50 mile time champion and defending champion Stuart McGregor (Velo Ecosse).

Davie Whitehall leads the chase on lap 1.
Davie Whitehall leads the chase on lap 1.

David Whitehall (unattached), was another interesting entry, a multiple winner of Scottish titles in the 70’s and 80’s.

VeloVeritas had been charged with keeping an eye on 50 plus favourite, Jim Leslie (the bicycleworks) by his Spanish-based mentor Al Hamilton, but the Portobello man failed to appear and it was Kirkcaldy rider Graham Barclay who finished best of “the more mature riders.”

Cusick & Balclay bridge up to the break, lap 1.
Cusick & Barclay bridge up to the break, lap 1.

After one hour’s riding on the climb out of Rhynie, it looked like the race pattern had formed, with five up the road including McGregor, Kermode and McGregor with Cusick and Barclay bridging-up.

McGarrity makes it hurt - Bennachie, lap 2.
McGarrity makes it hurt - Bennachie, lap 2.

McGregor in particular looked to have the bit firmly between his teeth and a seven man group of this quality would usually stay away in a Scottish senior event.

McGregor and McGarrity see the gap closing again.
McGregor and McGarrity see the gap closing again.

Surprisingly, this break was caught, McGarrity put it down to;

“I think we all thought that we were the break of the day and got a bit complacent.”

Kermode put it differently;

“Nobody gave-up in the group behind.”

whilst McGregor felt;

“We weren’t working as a cohesive unit.”

On the big climb over the flank of 493 metre Bennachie on the second lap it was all together, with a savage dig from McGarrity failing to do the damage he wanted;

“I’ve split the race on that climb a couple of times in the past, but not today!”

McGregor driving at the front.
McGregor driving at the front.

The second climb out of Rhynie saw McGregor at the front driving a little group clear, but despite exhortations to his fellow breakaways, the gap at the top wasn’t sufficient and it was apparent that it was going to be a blanket finish.

It's heading for a bunch sprint.
It's heading for a bunch sprint.

The rain-lashed finishing straight was flat and fast, curving gently to the right and it was McGarrity who launched first;

“I went at around 250 to go, with the benefit of hindsight that was maybe a bit early, I had been conscious of Kermode on my wheel for the last couple of miles and when I saw him coming on my left, I drifted that way a little to try and put him off, but he got past —

“I’m not used to loosing sprints, especially in vets races!

“There are so many time triallists riding this race, they’ll chase all day, but won’t try to get away or jump across on their own.

“Still, the criterium champs are coming-up at Glasgow Green, so we’ll need to try and do something in that.”

[Glasgow Green, that’s only an hour away — surely it’s not a proper race unless you have to drive 150 miles to get there.]

Kermode’s memory of the lead-out distance was a little shorter;

“I had heard that McGarrity had a good finish, so I was on his wheel for the last mile, it was a crowded finish, with riders all-over the road, I hardly glimpsed the yellow flag and started to go past him at around 100 to go, my sunglasses had steamed-up so I couldn’t really see the line, just a group of people —that was what I sprinted for!

“It was a really fast race today, I made it 24 mph… I’m just delighted to have won.”

VC Astar man, Chris Thomson took bronze, and just as it was time to head home — the sun came out.

The Macs agree, that was good fun.
The Macs agree, that was good fun.

Result

1 J.Kermode, Dundee Thistle – 2,40,45
2 G.McGarrity, Edge Racing – All at st
3 C.Thomson, V.C. Astar
4 S.McIntosh, Granite City
5 P.McDonald, Johnstone Wheelers
6 G.Barclay, Kirkcaldy & District 1st 50+
7 = S.McGregor, Velo Ecosse
K.Thomson, Dunfermline CC
D.Hines, Edinburgh R.C.
J.May
O.Brookes
P.Ettles, Forres
C.Fisher, Glasgow Nightingale
T.Worthington
A.Taylor, Glasgow Wheelers
R.Nicholson, Classic Walls
N.Johnstone
T.Nugent, East Kilbride
P.Allan, Granite City
A.Hay, Stirling RC 2nd 50+
F.Morris, G.S.Metro
E.Shackley, Ivy CC
R.Shenton, Team Swift Allsorts 3rd 50+
M.Houston, Edinburgh RC
B.Dallas, Ythan CC
J.Daly, Johnstone Wheelers
N.Anderson, DTCC
E.Ritchie, unattached
D.Whitehall
30 J.Cusick, Glasgow Couriers
31 R.Reidy, Leslie Bikes
32 P.Waites, Fife CC @ 5.58
33 I.Wilkie, DTCC @ 5.59
34 C.Russell, Edinburgh RC @ 6.01
35 A.Mcallister, Ayr RC @ 6.05
36 D.Lang, Glasgow Wheelers “
37 A.Syme, unattached “
38 G.Findlater, “ @ 6.08
39 N.Kininmonth, DTCC @ 8.43
40 N.Skene, Granite City @ 17.44
41 I.Anderson, Dundee Thistle @ 22.20
42 J.Gemmell, Ayr RC “
43 N.Howarth, DTCC “
44 C.Cowie, Aberdeen Wheelers “