Rapha Condor Sharp’s James McCallum has been at it again; winning, that is — the 46th edition of the Davie Bell Memorial, this time.

VeloVeritas unfortunately couldn’t make it down to one of our favourite races, but we were on the phone to ‘Jamesy’ and to organiser Chris Johnson, soon after the dust had settled.

James McCallum
James takes the win in glorious solitude.

I didn’t think sprinters were meant to win on their own, James?

“Yeah, a minute-and-a-half clear — with 20km to go, on the gravel section for the second time I just pressed a bit harder, I looked back and saw I had the gap and went for it. It took a long time for the break to go, there were only 40 miles — near Straiton – to go when we got away.

“There was me, Callum Wilkinson from Endura (4th), Scott Macrae from Team Leslie Bike Shop (3rd) and ‘Pedro’ Murdoch from Team Cyclelane (2nd) — who did really well to get back on after he punctured.

“We all worked well, there wasn’t much talking, we rode at a good tempo and all co-operated until I went.

“Sadly, my wife Pamela’s grandad died in the week, so it was nice to be in a position to dedicate my win to them.”

What about these gravel roads, then?

“There were two sections — each was around five miles, and the first time in there were guys puncturing everywhere.

“I’d decided that I had to be at the front so I could pick my lines and stay out of trouble — but there’s a lot of luck involved.

“It was really cool though on the gravel… I think the race has the potential to be better than the Rutland — the organiser did a really good job.”

James McCallum
If gravel roads are good enough for the Giro then why not the Davie Bell?

How was the weather?

“It was good, fortunately — windy, but if it had rained on the gravel it would have been a nightmare with more punctures and chains squeaking everywhere.”

What’s it like lining up at the start knowing the whole filed is marking you?

“You have to ride differently, you have to be vigilant, control your aggression, measure your efforts and chose carefully when you make your move — there’s no point in attacking ten times if you know ten guys are going to be on your wheel every time.”

James McCallum
The roads did a good job of splitting the field to bits.

Earlier in the season we heard remarks from you about negative riding by some teams — how was today?

“No complaints — there were guys going from the gun and I think you had to be aggressive through the gravel sectors.

“The fact that it took so long for the break to go speaks for itself.

“I was lucky because I rode the Ràs; and after that this seemed easier — the Ràs is just full on every day.”

Who impressed?

“I think that Ali McNicol (thebicycleworks.com) is a rider who’s starting to find his way and believe in himself; Scott McRae rode a good race, and as I said, Peter Murdoch did well to get back to us after he punctured.

“I didn’t see a lot of the rest because I was at the head of things most of the day.”

James McCallum
The Sprint for Second.

Your team is dominating the Tour crit series.

“I missed the first week of them because I was at the Ras but I was back for the second week, Graham Briggs won in Peterborough on Tuesday and Deano Downing won in Colchester in Thursday.

“There’s a heck of a lot of driving involved with the Tour Series but if you’re winning then you don’t mind it so much.”

How was the Ras for you?

“I had three or four top tens so I was going well; I’ve realised that stage racing is where you build your strength.”

Your man Zak Dempster is going well.

“Really well — there are rumours that he may be getting a stagiaire place at the end of the year, but I don’t know who with.”

And what’s next on the agenda?

“It’s a busy fortnight; I drive down to Dean’s on Monday afternoon then on Tuesday night we have Stoke; Thursday night is Oldham; Saturday night is Smithfield; Tuesday night is Woking; Canary Wharf is on Thursday night and then the Tour of the Reservoir is at the weekend.”

Smithfield must be a goal?

“It was the first Rapha nocturne so it’s a big goal for the team, yes.

“But Cameron Meyer is riding and so are Matt Goss, Matt Wilson and Leigh Howard, so it’ll be a hard race.”

James McCallum
The Podium placers.

And finally, Race Organiser Chris Johnson had this to say;

“I’m very pleased with how it went; we got a lot of help from South Ayrshire Council who spent money on getting the roads repaired for us — the police cooperation was excellent too.

“The only issue was race service; it would have been much better if we’d had the like of the Endura and Rapha cars there to service their own guys on the gravel.

“But hopefully we’d like to take the race to a higher level than a Super Six — the 50th anniversary is approaching and I can’t see why we couldn’t make it a Premier.

“We have the local support and that of the riders – we had a full field on the closing date – it’s just finding sponsorship.

“And I have to say that it was such a joy to have James winning our race — he’s just such a professional.”

James McCallum
Just a small part of an organiser’s equipment.

…and I haven’t moaned once! See you at the ’25’?

With thanks to Chris for working so well with us, and for the use of the images – see the rest at the Ayr Roads Picasa Gallery.

James McCallum
James with Councillor Ann Galbraith, who stepped in with 4 weeks to go to help lobby for essential road repairs and helped deliver the goods – 3km of brand new tar on the Tairlaw summit road.

Result

1 James McCallum Rapha Condor Sharp Elite 3hrs 3min 34secs (ACS Prestwick Ltd. Victor’s Trophy)
2 Peter Murdoch Team Cyclelane 2 at 1.33
3 Scott Macrae Team Leslie Bike Shop / Right Move Windows 2 same time
4 Callum Wilkinson Endura Racing Elite same time (Sinclair Scott Hotspot Sprint)
5 Gordon Murdoch Team Cyclelane 2 at 2.34
6 Eddie Addis Equippe Velo Ecosse / Montpelliers 2 at 4.10
7 Alister Watt Grantie City RT V2 at 4.12
8 Neil Souter GS Metro 2 at 5.24
9 George Atkins Equippe Velo Ecosse / Montpelliers Elite same time
10 Trevor Wilson Dales CRT Scotland 3 at 5.25
11 Greg Brown Dooleys Cycles RT J2 at 5.27
12 Jordan Stokes Endura Pedal Power Development 3 same time
13 Richard Semple Team Cyclelane 3 same time
14 Alastair McNicol Thebicycleworks .com 2 same time
15 Gareth Barnes Walkers Cycling Club 3 same time
16 Neil Taylor Edinburgh RC 3 at 5.31
17 Keith Laird Glasgow Couriers / DB Developments 3 at 5.48
18 Jon Clarke Glasgow Wheelers 3 at 5.57
19 Neil Walker Walkers Cycling Club 3 same time
20 Russell Bayliss GS Metro 2 at 8.37
21 Andrew Brierley Team Leslie Bike Shop / Right Move Windows V3 same time
22 Craig Adams GJS Racing Team 2 same time
23 Ross Green Stewarty Wheelers / Next Level Bikes J3 at 8.39
24 Malcolm Paterson Glasgow Nighingale CC 3 at 11.29
25 David Griffiths Glasgow Wheelers 2 same time
26 Grant Ferguson Boardman Elite J2 at 11.35 (D&J Dunlop Hill Prime)
27 Jamie Kennedy Glasgow Couriers / DB Developments 2 at 12.20
28 Scott McCrossan Endura Pedal Power Development 2 same time
29 Kenny Armstrong Ayr Roads CC / Harry Fairbairn BMW 3 same time
30 Stuart MacGregor Dooleys Cycles RT V2 same time
31 Geoffrey Martin Nevis Cycles RT 3 at 12.34
32 Craig Wallace Granite City RT J3 at 12.38
33 Joe Larner Edinburgh RC 3 at 14.57
34 Ewan McDougall Elgin CC 3 at 17.45
35 Paul Mcinally Rock and Road Cycles 3 at 20.34