On a bright but sometimes cold and blustery Saturday afternoon in beautiful East Lothian, the Scottish National Road Race Series got off to a surprising start as junior Tom Arnstein beat all the favourites to win; outsprinting tester supreme, Arthur Doyle (Dooleys Cycles).
Arnstein stuck to the golden rule of Scottish road racing — ‘never ignore the early break’ — a tactic which paid off handsomely.
VeloVeritas was there for the start outside the Goblin Ha’ hotel in Gifford — and in case you wondered, the Goblin Ha’ (Hall) was the underground dungeon in nearby Yester Castle, legend has it that Sir Hugo de Gifford enlisted the help of the De’il himself to construct it back in 1267.
There was ‘devil may care’ racing from Arnstein’s team mate Ray Wilkins as he went on the offensive from lap one.
We drove against race route and by Bolton, Wilkins and three others had a decent gap.
Peter Murdoch was there for Team Cycle Lane and — with Wilkins — would spend the whole day off the front; so was Rich Semple (we think) for Dooleys and an Endura.
We say ‘we think’ because some of the race numbers didn’t match our start sheet printed off from the race web site in the morning, Davie Lines (Endura) was down as number 16 on our sheet but carried dossard 17.
And we can only say ‘an Endura’ because his numbers were covered by his racing cape — we’re not rule book punchers but having no numbers on view isn’t handy for folks like us.
The second and third time we saw the group they were neat and organised, albeit their gap was slipping.
But on the fourth sighting, at Colstoun Mains farm road end, things took a turn for the worst for the peloton as four riders ploughed through the wind and up towards the break — Doyle, Lines, Arnstein and Herbalife’s Andrew Hawdon.
Meanwhile we spotted TheBicycleWorks.com’s John Anderson on a secret training run out on the course — we won’t say a word, John.
Our fifth sighting was at the sprint prime at the end of lap three — the chasers were up and the break was seven strong, with Doyle now the only representative for Dooleys Cycles.
At Bolton we couldn’t persuade the lady and her dogs to wait and watch the race — it’d never happen in Flanders.
We had finally had a positive i.d. on the break at this point — six men now: Wilkins, Doyle, Lines, Murdoch, Hawdon and Arnstein.
There were a few in ‘no man’s land’ but for us it looked all over — especially with chats going on back in the bunch.
On our seventh sighting on the climb out of Gifford the break still looked good – but two chasing groups had prized free as the realisation set in that the race was slipping away.
Prior to our eighth view of the race, we came across our old friend Vik on his new KTM — but I had to take him to task on not having orange and black handlebar tape like the boys at Bretagne-Schuller.
And on the subject of ranting firebrands, John Knox was born in Yester back in 1505 — I think Vik was going down to pay homage, after the race.
The break looked in control of the situation, riding through and off but with no one giving too much.
Panic was spreading in the groups behind with strong men Michael Nicholson (Flanders) and 2011 winner Robbie Hassan (now with Herbalife) getting involved.
We were in Gifford with one lap to go and surprised to see Robin Wilkins rip through ‘en seule’ as they say in France.
But Davie Lines was cutting him no slack, as they banked left out of the village, past beautiful old Yester church and on to the climb.
Arnstein looked quite happy at the back, though.
And with the gap still over two minutes, there was no doubt from which six riders the winner was going to come.
Up at the chequered flag — it would be great to finish it in the village, but I guess there are reasons why they don’t — the temperature had dropped as the sun went on strike.
‘It’s Wilkins!’ said a pundit, before correcting himself; ‘no, it’s that junior laddie!’
And so it was, Arnstein had jumped Doyle and was well clear at the line — the youngster was taking no chances with a victory salute, though.
Doyle took second, Hawdon third and hard working Lines was fourth, with Murdoch fifth and instigator Wilkins sixth.
No quotes from the winner — we’re saving those for the exclusive interview with Tom Arnstein which will appear shortly here on VeloVeritas — and besides, we all needed a coffee.
Meanwhile, we had to find the plaque which commemorates the birthplace of John Witherspoon — no, not the boy with the pubs — one of the signatories of the American Declaration of Independence.
After our coffee, that is.
Nice weather, nice course, not a bad race and a new name on the way up doing the winning — mustn’t grumble.
Scottish National Road Series, Round 1 - Gifford - Results
2 74 Arthur Doyle www.Dooleys-Cycles.co.uk 2nd st
3 4 Andrew Hawdon Herbalife-Leisure Lakes Bikes.com Elite 9
4 17 David Lines Endura/Forme/Pedal Power 1st st
5 49 Peter Murdoch Team Cycle Lane 1st 12
6 23 Robin Wilkins Equipe Velo Ecosse/Montpeliers 1st 14
7 51 Tom Last Team IG – Sigma Sport 1st 01:27
8 1 Robbie Hassan Herbalife-Leisure Lakes Bikes.com Elite st
9 15 Gary Hand Endura/Forme/Pedal Power Elite st
10 3 Andrew Coupe Herbalife-Leisure Lakes Bikes.com Elite 01:28
11 61 Michael Nicolson Unattached 1st st
12 46 Alan Thomson Sandy Wallace Cycles 2nd 01:32
13 38 Craig Wallace Granite City RT 3rd 03:19
14 77 Graham McGarrity www.Dooleys-Cycles.co.uk 2nd 03:25
15 64 Tim Blathwayt Velo Club Edinburgh 2nd 03:32
16 71 Jack Barrett Velocity 44 Stirling 2nd 03:54
17 69 richard meadows Velo29-OTR-Vankru Elite 03:56
18 50 stephen russell Team Cycle Lane 2nd 03:58
19 6 Kieran Brady City Cycle Centre.com 2nd 04:02
20 18 Edward Addis Equipe Velo Ecosse/Montpeliers 1st st
21 35 Tommy Murray Glasgow Wheelers 2nd st
22 75 Martin Lonie www.Dooleys-Cycles.co.uk 2nd st
23 2 Simon Baxter Herbalife-Leisure Lakes Bikes.com 1st st
24 78 Paul Rennie www.Dooleys-Cycles.co.uk 2nd st
25 81 Brian Duncan Granite City RT 3rd st
26 76 Richard McDonald www.Dooleys-Cycles.co.uk 2nd st
27 24 Finlay Young Equipe Velo Ecosse/Montpeliers 2nd st
28 26 Craig Adams GJS Racing Team 2nd st
29 37 Veli-Matti Raikkonen Granite City RT 2nd st
30 13 Ewan McDougall Elgin CC : 3rd st
31 58 dale mccallum TheBicycleWorks.com 2nd st
32 47 Ross Green Stewartry Wheelers 3rd st
33 65 Richard Garrett Velo Club Edinburgh 3rd st
34 8 Cameron Balfour CNP – Orbea 3rd st
35 80 Gavin Shirley www.Dooleys-Cycles.co.uk 2nd st
36 30 Jamie Kennedy Glasgow Couriers 1st st
37 55 Gary McCrae Team Leslie Bike Shop – Right Move Windows 2nd st
38 41 Andrew Matheson Musselburgh RCC 3rd st
39 12 Neil Taylor Edinburgh RC 2nd st
40 34 Geoffrey Martin Glasgow Wheelers 3rd st
41 54 Stuart McCluskey Team Leslie Bike Shop – Right Move Windows 2nd st
42 82 John McCaffery Team Leslie Bike Shop – Right Move Windows 3rd st
43 73 Greg Brown www.Dooleys-Cycles.co.uk 2nd st
44 56 Andrew Cox TheBicycleWorks.com 2nd st
45 31 Keith Laird Glasgow Couriers 3rd st
46 45 Allan Clark Team Leslie Bike Shop – Right Move Windows 3rd st
47 11 Joe Larner Edinburgh RC 3rd st
48 16 Jordan Stokes Endura/Forme/Pedal Power 2nd st
49 57 Lindsay Gordon TheBicycleWorks.com 3rd st
50 33 David Griffiths Glasgow Wheelers 2nd st
51 10 Ross Crook Edinburgh RC 2nd st
52 20 Matthew MacDonald Equipe Velo Ecosse/Montpeliers 2nd st
53 72 Gavin Shuttleworth Velocity 44 Stirling 3rd st
54 88 Peter Ward Velo Club Edinburgh 3rd st
55 39 Alister Watt Granite City RT 2nd st
56 90 Hamish McLean Labrat CC 3rd 04:15
57 60 Callum Wilkinson TheBicycleWorks.com 1st 04:18
58 79 Rich Semple www.Dooleys-Cycles.co.uk 2nd 04:20
59 5 Karl Denton Blumilk.com 2nd 04:26
60 27 Peter Hale GJS Racing Team 3rd st
61 28 Franco Porco GJS Racing Team 3rd 05:36
62 42 Ricky Sutherland Pro Am Race Club 3rd st
63 48 Gordon Murdoch Team Cycle Lane 1st 05:37
2 18 Eric Easton Edinburgh RC 4th st
3 10 Andrew Macdonald Dunfermline CC 4th st
4 9 Tony Curran Dunfermline CC 4th st
5 59 Duncan Ewing TheBicycleWorks.com 4th st
6 53 Craig Grieve Spokes Racing Team 4th st
7 56 Andrew Wilson Stirling Bike Club 4th st
8 31 Richard Provan Glasgow Couriers 4th st
9 52 Richard Greig Spokes Racing Team 4th st
10 2 David Torrance Ayr Roads Cycling Club 4th st
11 28 John Gartland GJS Racing Team 4th st
12 95 Kelvin White Deeside Thistle CC 4th st
13 58 Malcolm Dunlop TheBicycleWorks.com 4th st
14 65 Colin McLellan Velo Club Edinburgh 4th st
15 14 Georges Avraam Edinburgh RC 4th st
16 16 Andrew Colman Edinburgh RC 4th st
17 79 Peter Anderson Deeside Thistle CC 4th st
18 1 Alexander McAllister Ayr Roads Cycling Club 4th st
19 6 David Anderson Deeside Thistle CC 4th st
20 61 Scot Robertson unattached 4th st
21 36 Terence McMahon Glasgow Ivy CC 4th st
22 51 Scott McDiarmid Shutt VR 4th 8
23 63 Steve Macluskie VC Glasgow South 4th 11
24 42 Arron Sands Lomond Roads CC 4th 23
25 83 Aidan Quinn Glasgow Ivy CC 4th 40
26 34 Robert Young Glasgow Green Cycle Club 4th 59
27 82 Ayrton Pellet Edinburgh RC 4th 01:08
28 48 Andrew Louis Pro-AM RC 4th 01:19
29 23 Ian Wallace Edinburgh RC 4th 01:22
30 49 Paul Ramsay Pro-AM RC 4th 01:57
31 25 Stephen Dickson Falkirk Bicycle Club 4th 02:11
32 29 Paul Friel Glasgow Couriers 4th 02:33
33 8 John Milligan Dundee Wheelers CC 4th 04:28
34 73 Claire Martin Edinburgh Road Club 4th 05:03
35 80 Iain Paton CNP – Orbea 4th 06:19
36 92 Charline Joiner City of Edinburgh RC 2nd 06:21
37 64 George Roberts VC Glasgow South 4th st
38 3 Jesse Finch Gnehm Capitol Velo 4th 06:24
39 41 Andrew Bruce Kinross CC 4th 07:43
40 35 Paul Hornby Glasgow Ivy CC 4th 07:45
41 43 Michael Anderson Moray Firth Cycling Club 4th st
42 24 Raymond Williams Edinburgh RC 4th 09:39
43 68 Barrie McCutcheon www.Dooleys-Cycles.co.uk 4th 09:44
44 81 Daniel Curran Dunfermline CC 4th 09:46
45 47 Craig Barron Perth United Cycling Club 4th 10:14
46 84 Craig Owen Ronde Bicycle Outfitters 4th 11:13
47 90 Andy Douglas Pedal Power RT 4th 11:47
48 91 James Murray Glasgow Green Cycle Club 4th 12:58
49 39 Gordon Jackson Hawick CC 4th st
50 96 Callen Kerr Glasgow Wheelers 4th 13:53
51 66 Gavin Mooney Velo Club Edinburgh 4th st
52 26 Bruce Fullerton Falkirk Bicycle Club 4th st
53 75 Penny Phillips Moray Firth Cycling Club 4th st
54 74 Laura Nicolson Moray Firth Cycling Club 3rd 13:58
55 12 Chris Allen Edinburgh RC 4th 16:08
56 4 Paul Faulkner Carnethy HRC 4th 16:11
57 60 Christopher McConnell unattached 4th 17:39
58 40 William MacDonald Johnstone Wheelers CC 4th 19:12
59 32 Andrew Dobinson Glasgow Green Cycle Club 4th : 19:49
60 70 Julie Erskine Aberdeen Wheelers CC 4th 21:47
61 50 Graham Cruickshanks Shutt VR 4th 25.12