It took Arthur Doyle (Dooleys) just 51:33 to join the likes of Billy Bilsland, Graeme Obree and Jason MacIntyre on the roll of honour for the Scottish National 25 Mile Time Trial Championship on a warm but windy Sunday morning on the fast dual carriageway of the A90 Laurencekirk by-pass.
Doyle was run to 23 seconds by former 100 mile champion, Jonathan Copp (Sandy Wallace), who blasted back from the turn with 51:56 to keep perennial Jim Cusick ((Glasgow Couriers) back in third on 52:19.
The 25 has a fascination; everyone wants to win it; despite the fact that it’s a dead end street.
In 1980, Tony Doyle and Sean Yates were training hard for the Moscow Olympics – the pinnacle of any athlete’s career.
But both men asked the powers that be if they could ride one race that didn’t really fit in with their big pursuit build ups – the RTTC 25 championship.
There were no Olympians on the A90, but all of the big hitters of the Scottish time trial world were there, except defending champion, Mark Atkinson (Sandy Wallace) – laid low with a strain.
VeloVeritas, after protests from Jeanette Hazlett and Isobel Smith about “ignoring the girls” were there for the first of the ladies to tackle the sticky drag of the Laurencekirk by-pass where we set up shop, around half-way to the turn. We even had a lady timekeeper, today – the future Mrs. Williamson, the lovely Gillian.
Vicki Hunter (Sandy Wallace Cycles) off number 5 was the first to look the part, the air was still and traffic light at that time of the morning.
Eventual winner, Marie Todd (Sandy Wallace Cycles) was already well on her way to winning and leading bronze medallist, Fiona Duncan to the two rider Scottish ladies team record and along with Hunter, the three rider record, for good measure.
Jessica Wilson-Young ((Edinburgh Road Club) was having to get used to being ‘down’ in a ladies time trial in Scotland – unusual for her.
The first of the men were making the same mistake as many of the girls; over-geared and tieing up on the long drag.
It was number 45, Steve Nutley (Fife Cycling 2000) before we saw a rider really looking the part (55:09 for 17th).
On the other side of the carriageway, Marie Todd was speeding back to 57:34 and the title.
Phil Brown looked good – and would stop the clock on 54:08 for 12th – but we just knew that the fast men would be a cog or two higher on this section.
The traffic count didn’t vary by much throughout the whole event and it was light as Brown’s hill climb champion clubmate, Ben Abrahams was another who looked stylish, but wasn’t putting enough watts down (55:27 for 20th).
Former English schoolboy protegé, Jeremy Greengrass (Nightingale) upped the ante and would end up 8th on 53:38; on the same minute as the 25 time he rode to as an under 16 year-old, ‘back in the day.’
Ian Black (Sandy Wallace Cycles) wasn’t enjoying his joust with gravity, but he was always going to fly home with that rising tail breeze – so it proved as he took those little cogs to 52:25, and fourth place.
Steve Beech was another Sandy Wallace Cycles man working hard, 58:01 at the line wasn’t a bad time on a soft tyre.
Fellow veteran, Ian Condie (Dunfermline) looked the part; even though it’s a long time since he was Scottish schoolboy road race champion – 40 years, maybe?
The first of Dooleys short distance flyers, Andy Torrance raised the bar again; at the line he would be 6th in 52:49 and second counter in the winning team.
Team mate Sean Gray’s rear disc didn’t sound healthy and his 55:59 wasn’t quick enough to make third man in the team – Davie Gee did that with 53:42.
Silver medal surprise in the ’10’ champs, Peter Ettles (Forres) was one second up on Torrance; but with the rising head wind: faced a difficult proposition with his fixed gear on the way home.
Jonathan Copp was looking good, but last year’s silver medallist, Gary Robson (Dooleys) was finding that setting up a bike shop – Bspoke Cycles in Peebles – and winning the ’25’ just aren’t compatible; his 55:06 is hardly a disaster though.
Jim Cusick (Glasgow Couriers) looked neat as ever and is a man who should never be ruled out – over any distance.
Carlos Riise (Shetland) was big-geared, smooth and aero, but maybe a little sluggish – that would be from riding the British ’50’ yesterday then? (7th on 53:12)
With Mark Atkinson DNS, Arthur was last man and looking focused – 11 seconds to the good on the field.
It was time to cross the carriageway; the sun was warm on our skin but the breeze was now rustling the bushes – it was going to be fast back.
Ettles was up on Torrance, his tyres quiet on the tar compared to those who’s movement in the saddle squirms the rear rubber on the road; but it was a finish for the 11 and 12 sprockets today – not a fixed cog. No medals for Peter, but a solid 5th in 52:38.
Copp was motoring, moving visibly faster than anyone else, clawing every bit of speed out of the wind.
Davie Gee was off the pace; Cusick appeared before a disconsolate Robson who had been caught for two minutes; Riise was within Doyle’s line of site as he blasted the last few miles.
We followed him for a mile or so – very impressive.
No surprises, but a lot of good rides and it’s a measure of how much Scottish time trialling has improved that 52:49 only gets you sixth place.
What they said
3rd placed Jim Cusick
“I’m very pleased with my ride today, given I’ve had two crashes in the last few weeks – one in the ten champs and I had a crash in training ten days ago.
“I dislocated my finger and was cut up pretty bad, but it doesn’t stop you pushing the pedals!
“I have to programme my racing around work, these days; the ten was a big target, on local roads – I was riding it a couple of times each week to prepare for the championship. I’m not going to get into saying who I was up on or what I was going to do, but I was very disappointed to puncture and crash at the turn.
“I’m working in London these days, I thought it would be bad for training, but it transpires that I’m only little bit away from Richmond Park – there are 200 cyclists riding around there.
“Today was a target too. I was up here a bit early today, a couple of the young lads were off on low numbers; I had a snooze before the start and was nice and relaxed – that’s important.
“I just rode myself into it; like I said, I’m delighted to have a 52 and a medal.”
We asked Jonathan Copp, second today, how he pops up with these great rides after we’ve not seen much of him, for a while.
“With two kids under five and a third on the way in August I have to restrict myself to targeting two or three races each season.
“I don’t race as much I used to – I loved racing every week.
Today was a target, so I’m delighted to have done the ride I did – I just went flat out from the start.
“I don’t ride on watts anymore, I used to, but I still train on them. When I’m racing, I tape up the watts display on the computer. You can end up fixated with numbers, instead of getting on with the job.”
“The next target? The 50 – then it’s baby number three; I don’t think I’ll get away with racing again this year, after that !”
Scottish 25 Mile TT Champion, Arthur Doyle
“‘I was originally going to ride a stage race in France with Paul Rennie, Paul Coates and the others this weekend – my big targets were the British ’10’ and ’25’ championships.
“But both races were compromised by illnesses – the problem with working in a hospital is that you pick up the infections that are going around! I lost four kilograms in four days, with one of the infections.
“It didn’t help either that I was run off the road and crashed, in the week. I’m just starting to feel as if I’m coming back, now.
“Today, I went out easy but went for it on the way back, some of the drags were very tough – but over the last four miles or so, I really ‘melted myself’.
“This is only my second ’25’ of the year and to have won the title, it’s just a fabulous feeling.
“I started six years ago, I was over-weight and my first ’10’ was a ’27’ – Jim Cusick and Hugh Jamieson both did 20 minute rides that night and I remember thinking; ‘how is that humanly possible?’
“But here I am, ’25’ champion!”
We wanted to have a word with race organiser Isobel Smith, who for many years has organised races and has done so much for Scottish cycling.
“It’s gone very well today, I’ve had a very laid-back day! Everything has gone really well, we’ve not had any problems today, and I can put that down to experience and age!
“How many races have I organised? A lot! I started the serious stuff about four weeks ago, and started the baking on Friday.
“I expected Arthur to win today, but I must admit I’m most pleased with the ladies – : they’ve done really well today.
“I’ll still be involved with cycling, but it’ll be someone else’s turn to put on the championships next time, I’ll enjoy watching without fretting!”