Ah, the Girvan — and VeloVeritas are right there, with Evan Oliphant (Plowman Craven) and Gary Hand (Endura) keeping us abreast of what’s going on in South West Scotland.

The Girvan
The Plowman Craven team look the biz, but the race didn’t fall their way in the end.

Saturday 11th April

Stage One

Give us the low down on the stage please, Evan.

“We took the stage and all the jerseys — not a bad day’s work; and the sun’s out, too!

“I was in the big early break, initially there were 12 but another three got across; we had two there, me and Ross Creber but Pinarello only had Elliott so them and Kinesis brought it back.

“There was a lot of jumping around after that, then a break of seven went and it was the right combination with all of the big teams represented.

“Everyone was blocking behind; we had two there, Tom Murray and James Millard.

“In the sprint James was away with Simon Richardson of Rapha but Tom caught them on the line to take the stage and the jersey — he took the King of the Mountains; James took the sprints jersey, so it was a great day for us.

“Those seven took a minute plus, so the GC is pretty well tied up; I didn’t understand why Rapha wouldn’t commit in the big, early break, they were well represented, I think if they’d got down to it then that would have been it. “

And Gary’s take?

“The nice weather makes it all kind of surreal — it’s just not like Girvan!

“I finished in the main bunch, but my big target is the King of the Mountains — I took enough placings to get me equal on points with Murray, but I’ll get to wear the mountains jersey because he has the leader’s jersey.

“The team are all riding well; I think the GC is all over, though — those seven have a minute on the rest.

“We’ll be concentrating on the Mountains, now.”

The Girvan
Tom Murray takes the yellow jersey after the first stage.

The Girvan – Stage One Result

1. Tom Murray Plowman Craven E  2:21:05
2. Peter Williams CandiTV-Pinarello E  st
3. Marcin Bialoblocki Team E12 E st
4. Simon Richardson Rapha Condor E  st
5. Andy Tennant Halfords Bike Hut Esp 1  st
6. James Millard Plowman Craven E at 0:03
7. Darren Barclay Artic – Premier 1 at 0:06
8. Rob Partridge Halfords Bike Hut E at 1:03
9. Mat Kipling KUK Kinesis E  st  92
10. Malcolm Elliott CandiTV-Pinarello E  st

Stage Two

The criterium second stage wasn’t such a good day at the office for Evan, though:

“I never moved from the front five all night and with three to go we were moving Tom Murray up when Dale Appleby (Pinarello) made a dive for it — unfortunately, he grounded a pedal and came down right in front of me.

“He caught it so hard that his bike spun 180 degrees; he was facing me when I hit him!”

(Editorial note: we once followed Appleby through the last kilometre of a stage at Girvan — his cornering has to be seen to be believed.)

“A load of guys piled into me and I’ve got an injured hamstring; I’m not sure how I got it, it all happened so fast.

“I had to ride the last three laps on a wrecked bike — the frame is broken and both of the wheels.

“It was a fast stage — Russ Downing got shelled but his Pinarello team mate Briggs took the win.

“The mechanics are working on a new bike for me now (9.00 pm) and I’m going to do a little spell on the rollers to try and it and loosen my legs off.

“The soigneur worked on it right after, but I’m still sore — we’ll see what I’m like in the morning.”

Gary’s criterium was a less traumatic affair:

“In the crit I just screwed the nut, the GC is finished; it’s the mountains jersey that counts.

“The main thing tonight was to help James McCallum; he was well clear coming into the finale but he got caught up with some lapped riders and that was that.

“I heard Evan had crashed, but didn’t realise that it was that bad.”

The Girvan – Stage Two Result

1. Graham Briggs CandiTV-Pinarello E  38:12
2. Ian Wilkinson Halfords Bike Hut E  st
3. Kristian House Rapha Condor E  st
4. Simon Gaywood Corley Cycles E  st
5. James Millard Plowman Craven E  st
6. Will Bjergfelt Team E12 E st
7. Chris McNamara Corley Cycles E  st
8. James McCallum Endura Racing 1  st
9. Wouter Sybrandy Sigma Sport – Spec E st
10. Matt Higgins Corley Cycles E st

Overall Classification after Stage Two

1. Tom Murray Plowman Craven E  2:59:02
2. Marcin Bialoblocki Team E12 E at 0:10
3. Simon Richardson Rapha Condor E at 0:15
4. Andy Tennant Halfords Bike Hut Esp 1  st
5. James Millard Plowman Craven E at 0:18
6. Peter Williams CandiTV-Pinarello E at 0:25
7. Darren Barclay Artic – Premier 1 at 0:31
8. Graham Briggs CandiTV-Pinarello E at 1:08
9. Ian Wilkinson Halfords Bike Hut E at 1:12
10. Kristian House Rapha Condor E at 1:15

The Girvan
Two stages down and Plowman have the race by the scruff…
The Girvan
A peek inside the Plowman truck.

Sunday 12th April

Stage Three

This stage saw Evan in a worklike mode:

“Not at my best, but I got round; I had a yellow jersey to defend.

“We had a 35 mile chase at one stage; the whole team was on the front — into a block headwind.

“Richardson was up the road, he was one of the seven who were in the move yesterday; the thing is that we could see them most of the time, just up the road. The break went clear on the first climb and there were about 30 or-so who were out the back for good after that, they never got back.

“When we eventually got the break back there was a lot of jumping about; Halfords went on the attack — Tom Murray punctured right then, at the worst possible time.

“It was his rear wheel and just as he got rolling again, his front tyre went down, but the car was servicing Tom Barras too — he’d punctured as well!

“We dropped back to help but only he managed to get back to the front, he’d been sitting on during the chase, so his legs were OK — not like ours; we didn’t get back. We still had Ross Creber up front and he waited for Murray, but Tom just went straight past him.

“Fortunately he got back to the head of the action and held on to the jersey; Russ Downing took the stage — I just rolled in the last 30 K.

“I’ve been pedalling harder with the leg that I didn’t injure, so now my back hurts!

“I’ve had massage on my leg, ice on it, and ridden the rollers to try and loosen it off — tomorrow’s another day.”

Gary explained;

“It was tough right from the start, I think Halfords are the strongest team in the race, them and Plowman.

“The stage finale was savage, I think it’s one of the fastest Girvans ever; Saturday was 26.4 mph and today was 25 mph — and that’s over all those piddly, little hilly roads.

“I managed to get a few points for the K O M today but Bibby (Halfords) got more and he’s in the jersey; we’ll see what tomorrow brings.The team is riding very well, Scott McRae and Callum Wilkinson were in the first group today; they’re lying 15th and 20th respectively, or thereabouts.

“Scott must be in line for a go at the best Scottish rider prize and we’ll see what we can do about the K O M.”

The Girvan – Stage Three Result

1 Russ Downing CandiTV-Pinarello E 3:02:16
2 Simon Gaywood Corley Cycles E st
3 Malcolm Elliott CandiTV-Pinarello E st
4 Ian Wilkinson Halfords Bike Hut E st
5 Marcin Bialoblocki Team E12 E st
6 Mat Kipling KUK Kinesis E st
7 Matt Higgins Corley Cycles E st
8 Mark Wordsworth Corley Cycles E st
9 Peter Williams CandiTV-Pinarello E st
10 Will Bjergfelt Team E12 E st

Overall Classification after Stage Three

1 Tom Murray Plowman Craven E 6:01:18
2 Marcin Bialoblocki Team E12 E at 0:10
3 Andy Tennant Halfords Bike Hut Esp 1 at 0:15
4 Simon Richardson Rapha Condor E st
5 Peter Williams CandiTV-Pinarello E at 0:25
6 Simon Gaywood Corley Cycles E at 1:08
7 Ian Wilkinson Halfords Bike Hut E at 1:12
8 Malcolm Elliott CandiTV-Pinarello E at 1:13
9 Kristian House Rapha Condor E at 1:15
10 Matt Higgins Corley Cycles E at 1:18

Monday 13th April

Stage Four

We’d hoped to be telling you that Evan chaperoned his Plowman Graven team mate, Tom Murray to the GC and that Gary had taken the mountains jersey for Endura — but instead…

Evan explained;

“Tom cracked on Tairlaw, I’d spoken to him on the Nick and he wasn’t feeling too comfortable.”

(The Tairlaw climb immediately follows the Nick o’ Balloch climb; there isn’t a lot of descending and recovery time from the top of the Nick to Tairlaw.)

“It’s really exposed on Tairlaw, I tried to shelter him from the wind but there were a lot of attacks happening and he just couldn’t respond when a group of about ten went away.

“I cruised to the top with him then we tried to drill it on the descent, but it was just me and Ross Creber riding and there was no way we could beat ten of them.

“Marcin Biabolocki (Poland & Sports Beans) won the overall, but Halfords messed it up, their Wilkinson went away with Russ Downing; Downing won with Wilkinson second, but they should have tried to get Andy Tennant up for the sprint, he beat the Pole in the gallop, but all the bonuses were gone and he lost the GC by five seconds.

“Looking back, perhaps I should have gone with the ten, but I thought that maybe we could get Tom back into contention. There was a terrible crash earlier on today — I heard the “bang!” looked back and there was no one there; half the field had gone!

“I think Gary Hand got quite a bad one; he had to go to hospital, which was a shame because I think he might have taken the mountains jersey from Ian Bibby (Halfords).

“Bibby had been up the road but blew and Gary had taken points from him — it looked like he could get it. Tom Murray’s not too upset, it’s a learning experience for him — and besides, a stage win and two days in yellow isn’t bad!”

With Gary Hand in hospital, we spoke to his Endura team mate James McCallum for an update;

“Gary is in hospital, he’s dislocated his collar bone or shoulder, I’m not sure which yet but at least it’s not a break.

“It happened on a wide, fast stretch; I’d just swung off from a spell at the front and my computer was reading 65 kph — I was going back down the string, looked back and half the bunch had gone!”

I asked Evan and he explained that there had been a monster crash.

“The race was fully ‘on’ when it came; a lot of guys broke bikes and quite a few ended up in hospital. It was a shame for Gary because I definitely think the K O M was possible.

“Callum Wilkinson did well though, as second Scottish rider — it’s good for him because now he’s starting to believe in himself. “

Stage Four Result

1. Russell Downing CandiTV-Pinarello E 3:02:50
2. Ian Wilkinson Halfords Bike Hut E at 0:01
3. Kristian House Rapha Condor E at 0:29
4. Andy Tennant Halfords Bike Hut Esp 1 at 0:34
5. Marcin Bialoblocki Team E12 E st
6. Peter Williams CandiTV-Pinarello E  st
7. Simon Gaywood Corley Cycles E at 0:41
8. Will Bjergfelt Team E12 E at 0:42
9. Tom Southam Rapha Condor E st
10. Gareth Montgomery Sigma Sport – Spec E at 0:45

The Girvan
Marcin Bialoblocki takes his biggest win so far.

The Girvan – Final Overall Classification

1. Marcin Bialoblocki Team E12 E 9:04:52
2. Andy Tennant Halfords Bike Hut Esp 1 at 0:05
3. Peter Williams CandiTV-Pinarello E at 0:15
4. Ian Wilkinson Halfords Bike Hut E at 0:19
5. Russ Downing CandiTV-Pinarello E at 0:40
6. Kristian House Rapha Condor E at 0:55
7. Simon Gaywood Corley Cycles E at 1:05
8. Will Bjergfelt Team E12 E at 1:16
9. Tom Murray Plowman Craven E at 1:41
10. Gareth Montgomery Sigma Sport – Spec E st
11. Tom Southam Rapha Condor E at 2:46
12. Steve Lampier KUK Kinesis E at 2:59
13. Chris McNamara Corley Cycles E st
14. Mark McNally Halfords Bike Hut Esp 1 st
15. Malcolm Elliott CandiTV-Pinarello E at 3:01
16. James Moss KUK Kinesis 1 at 4:09
17. Callum Wilkinson Endura Racing Esp 1 st
18 Ian Bibby Halfords Bike Hut E at 4:15
19. Roy Chamberlain Corley Cycles E at 4:21
20. Matt Higgins Corley Cycles E at 5:10

The Girvan
L2R: Andy Tennant, Marcin Bialobocki, and Peter Williams.

No happy endings, then — but that’s bike racing; with thanks to Evan, Gary and James for taking the time to talk to us.

Not forgetting a “get well soon” to Gary.

See you at the Drummond folks.