Enjoying the evening sunshine and large crowds around the town center circuit, young Pedal Power\Endura rider Robbie Hassan rode an intelligent and strong race to win the inaugural The Peebles Criterium 2011, part of the Tweedlove Festival, fending off a strong challenge from Director’s Choice’s Allan Clark and Endura Racing professional Callum Wilkinson.

The Peebles Criterium 2011
Robbie Hassan heads for first place.

These three, together with Scott McRae from Team Leslie Bikes had managed to detach themselves from the much-reduced bunch with seven laps of the tight and fast left-turning circuit remaining, and after 45 minutes of hard racing the four held off the remaining chasers by a handful of seconds, Craig Hardie (Director’s Choice) taking the gallop on Peebles High Street for fifth place, ahead of Gary Hand (Pedal Power\Endura).

The Peebles Criterium 2011
The “Victory Lap” was enjoyed by the local children and families.

The evening had started with the “family victory lap”; a chance for the huge number of children and their families in the area to have a go around the closed roads for thirty minutes, before the race got underway – a novel idea by the race organiser John Anderson, of thebicycleworks.com, and much appreciated by the locals.

The Peebles Criterium 2011
The Endura riders were obviously taking this seriously.
The Peebles Criterium 2011
The early laps and already riders are being tailed off up the only drag on the circuit.
The Peebles Criterium 2011
The Tontine Hotel are happy to be involved with cyclists and the local events.

The race attracted many of Scotland’s best known riders, and with the lovely summer evening keeping the roads dry and the crowd level high, they were keen to put on a show – perhaps a little too keen, as several riders told us afterwards;

“At the riders’ meeting before the start, it was agreed that for the first 15 or 20 minutes we would ride quickly, get warmed up, keep it together and give the crowd a good show, before starting to race ‘for real’.

“However, some of the lads forgot about all that when we started, and the first ten minutes were ‘ballistic’!”

The Peebles Criterium 2011
Eventual third and second placed riders, early in the action.
The Peebles Criterium 2011
The Leslie Bikes guys rode strongly, with Scott McRae eventually making the winning move.

Indeed, riders who we had down to figure towards the end of the race found themselves having to close splits in the back-half of the string right from the off, with the race proving to be one of natural selection with riders sliding out the back door, rather than gaining space off the front.

The Peebles Criterium 2011
We’re full of admiration for guys like Andy Mathieson, who still have the love of competing after many years in the sport.
The Peebles Criterium 2011
Graeme McGarrity was one of the riders not able to make the front group.
The Peebles Criterium 2011
Only four corners per lap, but the 45 minute race meant more than 180 sprints!

The whittling down process continued until around halfway when there were just 14 riders left in the front group, with a second bunch of around ten riders, picking up lapped riders and gaining some more tailenders now and again, some of whom appeared after a little absence – presumably after needing laps out.

The Peebles Criterium 2011
The road surface on the back of the circuit next to Tweed Green was a little bumpy.

This second group was lapped and asked to retire when the race was heading into the last six laps.

The Peebles Criterium 2011
One of Gary Hand’s powerful attacks, past the race HQ, the Tontine Hotel.

Gary Hand (Pedal Power\Endura) launch several stinging but ultimately unsuccessful attacks through the finishing line during these closing laps, but it was Clark’s acceleration with just three laps to go which was countered by Hassan and McRae, with Wilkinson getting across in short order, which proved to be the winning move.

The Peebles Criterium 2011
We’re not sure if John organised this too, but it was spectacular.

These four worked well until coming onto the High Street for the last time, when they gave the large audience a superb sprint, lined across the road, with Hassan producing the final kick which took him a couple of metres clear of the other three.

The Peebles Criterium 2011
The top four spread out over the High Street to give themselves lots of room.
The Peebles Criterium 2011
Robbie Hassan unleashes his sprint.
The Peebles Criterium 2011
The victory podium on the Tontine’s steps.

The Peebles Criterium 2011 – Result

1. Robbie Hassan (Pedal Power\Endura)
2. Allan Clark (Director’s Choice)
3. Callum Wilkinson (Endura Racing)
4. Scott McRae (Team Leslie Bikes)
5. Craig Hardie (Director’s Choice)
6. Gary Hand (Pedal Power\Endura)
7. Gary McRae (Team Leslie Bikes)
8. Ross Crook (Edinburgh Road Club)
9. David Lines (Pedal Power\Endura)
10. Neil Taylor (Edinburgh Road Club)

The Peebles Criterium 2011
The lovely Karen and Terri presented the prizes.
The Peebles Criterium 2011
John Anderson tells us it’s one of the organiser’s perks.