Nationals apart, Gary Hand (Endura) has dominated the Scottish domestic scene in 2009; he continued that superiority with another win in the Super Six Series in the Tour of the Lowther today, on tough roads around Britain’s highest village — Wanlockhead.
VeloVeritas couldn’t attend — I was shopping for a new kitchen; Ed was on my way down from a drookit holiday to Ullapool.
Mr. Hand has a healthy disregard for new fangled communications devices and we failed to muster him on the mobile — they only work, if they are switched ‘on,’ Garry!
However, long time VeloVeritas chum, team mate of the winner and third placed on the day Evan Oliphant ‘picked up,’ as our US brethren would say and we got the low down from him.
“The course was surprisingly flat for being around Wanlockhead; four laps, and it was big ring all the way.
“It was chilly at 10 degrees and very windy; it was raining before the start but it stayed off for the most part during the race.
“Rab Wardell (Kinesis) was riding very strongly today; he and one other jumped away and it was the last lap before we caught him — he’d dropped the other guy.
“We had a chase group of about 12 and it was difficult to make any ground on him until late in the race.
“There were four of us (Enduras) in the group; me, James McCallum, Gary Hand and David Lines — James was probably the strongest guy there, he’s going very well.
“He and I kept attacking on the last lap but it was tough in that wind.
“There were some good guys in the group — Ben Greenwood (Condor), Alistair Kay (York Cycle Works), Paul Rennie (Dooleys), Alex Coutts (that Greek outfit) and Rab Wardell’s Kinesis team mate, Matt Kipling — there were a couple of Wheelbase guys there too.
“There was a lot of jumping around on the last lap and with about one kilometre to go, Kay was clear.
“I put in a big effort to get up to him, but Gary and Kipling took my wheel as we caught Kay at 300 to go, Gary jumped and Kipling countered, I got in his way and slowed him down and he couldn’t get up to Gary — I think he’d have won if I hadn’t managed to slow him down a bit. He was very strong at the finish, but he’d been sitting on because Rab was up the road.
“I was finished because I’d made the effort to get up to Kay, so Gary took it with Kipling second and me third.”
Another good day for the Endura team — but what does next year hold for the Livingston men?
There are all sorts of rumours floating about — we’ll be sorting the fact from the fiction for you on the future of Endura over the next few weeks (we hope!)
Thanks to the wonders of a good old fashioned land telephone line [Gary has agreed to a doo loft at his house for the VeloVeritas carrier pigeons in 2010] we finally got hold of the winner on Sunday afternoon;
“I knew I had good legs for the race, I’d trained very hard for the Richmond Premier Calendar (23:08:09 where Gary was 11th behind team mate Evan Oliphant in 10th) and that form is still with me.
“I knew that if I rode sensibly then I could win on that uphill finish if it came to a sprint.
“I rode sensibly; there were a lot of attacks in the last four miles but it was a block headwind and no one got more than 100 yards.
“I just waited and it worked out for me at the end.
“I’m off on holiday in a week or two then I’ll start my build up for 2010.
“It’s been an up and down year for me, I’ve had the wins in the Super Sixes but I was disappointed not to make the Elite Athlete Programme; I couldn’t get my head round that one.
“The crash at Girvan was also a big disappointment.
“But I still want to go to the Games, next year; that’s my goal – I just hope that politics don’t play a part in the selections.”
We hope so too.