Balfron in Stirlingshire will host Vortex RT’s promotion of the Scottish Road Race Championships 2011 on Sunday 22nd May.

This year’s event will be based on a challenging circuit of approx 11km, which will have a race run on it for the first time.

~ Submitted by Colin Bark, Vortex Race Team ~

As tradition demands, the ladies go first, and their race will be 67km long, six full laps of the circuit starting at 9:30am.

The men’s race will start shortly after the ladies finish, around 12:30pm, and will continue on in the afternoon, completing 12 gruelling laps of the circuit for a total distance of 132km.

Some of the local roads have recently been in a very poor condition, but Stirling Council have done a great job over the past few weeks by resurfacing a large section of the course and filling in a number of potholes, aware that the Scottish National Championships and the cream of Scottish road race talent were going to be testing the course to the limit.

Scottish Road Race Championships 2011
Riders can look forward to some brand new road surfaces.

The Balfron Community Council are also heavily involved in the event – without them a circuit like this which passes through a busy village wouldn’t be possible.

The local support for the event has been incredible, even including the farmers who are also ensuring the race can pass smoothly.

The Scottish Road Race Championships 2011 Circuit

The course is based on the Endrick Valley, passing through Balfron on each lap.

On the Vortex Team’s website there’s a full course preview (this was done pre-resurfacing) and a Race Update page blog with possible spectator positions.

On first glance it’s been suggested by some that it looks “a bit flat”, but each lap actually consists of 130m of climbing (that means the men’s event climbs the equivalent of l’Alpe d’Huez during the race).

After Honeyholm Corner the gradient rises and doesn’t really ease off until Balfron, then the drag through Boquhan can be brutal at speed.

The course is very deceptive and the climbs will hopefully provide ideal platforms to launch attacks, on the last few circuits the hills will look a lot steeper and longer to the riders – as seen in the course preview, the organisers have done quite a few laps and we can confirm that the course is always hillier than you remember it being last time round!

Scottish Road Race Championships 2011
It’s a great circuit: technical, varied, and made for attacking.

The rest of the course is ideally suited to attacks, plenty of opportunities to quickly get out of sight and some other spots where the view of a gap around one minute is possible, but rarely more than that, so any break will likely be kept in view, keeping the racing for the medals tight and the peloton attentive to anything going up the road.

The Peloton

The women’s race includes last years champion Jane Barr. You can read an interview with her on the Vortex site.

The riders form for the women’s race is much harder to predict than the men: women-only cycle races in Scotland are few and far between, so the results could be unpredictable and some riders may take a chance to escape early, while others will be riding tactically until the latter stages.

The Sandy Wallace Cycles team fields the strongest team of six riders and has recently been racing at a high level.

Fiona Duncan (Ythan CC) has just returned from the World Paralympic Championships while piloting a blind cyclist on a tandem for the GB team, bringing home some medals, and could be one to watch.

The 80 rider men’s race includes several past champions: defending champion Evan Oliphant who rides for the Endura Racing team and will be working with team-mate Callum Wilkinson to make sure one of them takes the title.

Scottish Road Race Championships 2011
Defending Champ, Evan Oliphant. Photo©Martin Williamson

A very strong Endura/Pedal Power Development team fields seven riders, with several young talents supervised by David Lines and Gary Hand are all capable of winning or medalling, but looking to be on form right now are Robbie Hassan and Liam Cowie, who should both be suited to performing well on this circuit, especially on the latter stages.

The wild card for the championship is Asfra Racing’s Michael Nicolson – he’s been racing top level events in Belgium and France recently and is likely to be heavily monitored by the major teams. Michael could show the benefits of hard racing in cycling heartland.

Scottish Road Race Championships 2011
Michael Nicholson.

Add to the mix Ross Creber (Cycle Premier/Metaltek), a seven-strong Dooleys Race Team (who are all attacking riders), Team Cyclelane (with the talented Murdoch clan), Equipe Velo Ecosse (Addis, Wilkins), GSJ Racing, Glasgow Couriers, Bicycleworks.com, and Granite City RT, and you have the potential for a great racing spectacle for all those watching.

The Finish Area

On the last lap, the riders will turn right in Balfron instead of left (as they have done on all the previous circuits) which will take them to the finish line 300m up the hill into Balfron, just outside Doyles Café.

Scottish Road Race Championships 2011
The Vortex guys pop into Doyles Café for a cuppa.

At the finish line there will be an area set up with small bike shows from Solid Rock Cycles and Ridley Bikes. There will also be some products on display from Optical Express and Adidas Eyewear, with advice on sports spectacles.

The podium and jersey presentations will be in this area just after each race finishes, with BBC Sports Rhona McLeod helping with the prize giving, and the organisers hope that the Provost of Stirling will also be in attendance.

For those spectators feeling energetic, a 500m spin bike challenge will be in place, with some spot prizes available – all the proceeds going to the Balfron Primary School funds.

Want to Help?

Vortex RT are still looking for some marshalls, so if you are able to help out on the day, get in touch with them via email.

Scottish Road Race Championships 2011
The organisers are alcohol-free, well, at least until the event is over.