After years of trying, James McCallum (Rapha Condor Sharp) finally took his win in the Scottish National Road Race in sun-soaked Balfron today, edging out good friend Evan Oliphant (Team Raleigh-GAC) in the uphill sprint after a hard-fought 132km race, with VanillaBikes.com’s Alistair Rutherford a lone third a handful of seconds behind.
This is the second year the Championship has been held on this new Balfron circuit, and as James said from the podium,
“It would be great if the Championship was held here every year – superbly well organised by Colin Bark and Jez Greengrass and the guys in the Vortex RT, and it’s a superb course with an enthusiastic crowd. Just perfect.”
Indeed, here at VeloVeritas we’ve ranted about races, particularly championships, that disappear into the hills and are never seen again until the riders head back to the changing rooms.
This was different; an 11km circuit covered in around 16 and a half minutes, 12 times, was exactly what the event needs, and it clearly had the support of the locals; the crowd in the town and around the route was impressive: many of the business in Balfron were open, with race sponsor Doyle’s Café next to the finish line providing a hub for spectators as well as good coffee and hot rolls and cakes.
As Colin told me, the only thing missing from Ed’s event wish list was a crowd barrier to lean on, kermis style, and a bottle of Jupiler in his hand – and had Ed not been busy today working at the Giro, then he would have had them too!
We decided to drive around the circuit counter to the race direction, so we’d see the riders every eight or ten minutes, and with the day being so bright and clear there were one or two spots where we could even see the race at the other side of the circuit.
As you’ll see from the Lap by Lap gallery below, time and again a break would form – usually instigated by a surging James McCallum – and despite having a good combination of riders and making us think that we were witnessing the winning move, when we next caught up with the action it would be all back together again.
With James’ recent ride in the Rutland and Evan riding strongly for his new team Raleigh-GAC, we knew the constant reforming wasn’t because the guys weren’t strong enough, and thought we were simply seeing a fitter and better trained Scottish bunch than we have before.
It wasn’t until the race reached the final two laps that the super-strong guys were able to make the decisive moves.
As Scottish Cycling’s Jeanette Hazlett told us,
“We put Graeme Herd into the Comm 2 car so that when there was a break clear he’d get to see some of the action – but there hasn’t been a break with enough of a time gap for that, so poor Graeme has spent the entire race driving behind the lead car, and has seen nothing of the action!”.
Before the rollout, we had grabbed a quick chat with the guys we thought would be figuring in the results at the end of the 12 laps.
New team on the block, Lancs-based VanillaBikes.com has a bit of a Scottish connection; team captain Ben Greenwood is living and working in Fife and Alistair Rutherford’s dad is a Scot so qualifying him for this event, and you will of course have spotted that the shop is also sponsoring VeloVeritas to support our efforts and the time we spend in keeping the site going. Alistair was feeling relaxed and pleased that the sun was shining, and was looking forward to doing himself and his sponsor justice.
James McCallum was as laid back and low-key as ever, but despite being clearly in great shape, he confessed;
“The legs are sore, but then they’re always sore – so you just get on with it!”
Four-time winner Evan Oliphant was clearly motivated to add his name to the trophy again, and was sporting a really nice Moa Team Raleigh speedsuit, with the built-in pockets stuffed with the day’s nutritional requirements.
Evan isn’t exactly averse to the early break, but wasn’t sure how things would play out today, or wasn’t saying.
PedalPower’s Gary Hand looked thin and tanned, and explained;
“I’ve been training in Mallorca for a spell, and got back last week just the day before the Kirkcaldy round of the Halfords Tour Series, so that was pretty hard as it was the first criterium I’d done for a while and I still had the travelling in my legs.”
Like Evan, Gary was also wearing a skinsuit but one with no pockets;
“My gels are taped to my bottles, so I’ll get them later on”.
James missed the rollout and rode by with a huge grin on his face, not fussed at all – last out, but first home.
Lap by Lap
John Anderson’s thebicycleworks.com team showed well today, but things didn’t go entirely their way, with Angus Elliott – who’s been going well recently with a 7th place in the Davie Campbell RR in Fife – their best finisher in 16th place, puggled but happy.
James’ good lady wife didn’t need prompting to congratulate her hubby on the win!
Colin Bark and his team have done an outstanding job of organising and putting on the championships – congratulations to them!
The organisers presented James with a special jersey on the podium to celebrate the championship win, and we thought it looked pretty good, like a national champion’s jersey.
The official Scottish Cycling national champion’s jersey in comparison we reckoned looked more like a national squad design, but James being very professional wore both for the photographs.
Scottish National Road Race – What they said
“I can retire happy that I’ve won that now, and I’ve won every race in Scotland. Of course I’d love to win Premiers, but it’s great to win in Scotland. I’ve been trying to win this one for so long now, but often bad luck or something else prevented it.”
“Well, I’ve got another couple of year’s in me yet, the Commonwealth Games are on my radar, for sure – I grew up a couple of miles from the new Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome so it would be sweet to sign out in front of a home crowd, in some kind of style, you know?”
And what about wearing the official Scottish Champion’s jersey for the next year?
“Erm, we’ll see – it would be cool, but I’ll need to have a word with John [Herety, Rapha team boss] and try to twist his arm, maybe I could have some bands on my sleeve or something.
We asked James why he thought that up until lap 10 none of the breaks were sticking?
“It was a nightmare today, the level has gone up in the country so much – there’s so much information available nowadays and guys know how to train and are training smarter and better than ever before. It’s only in the last couple of laps that the strength of Evan and I and the guys who compete outside of Scotland in the bigger races against good fields were able to make a difference.
“It was myself, Robbie and Ali in the split, I attacked on the descent and on the following climb I saw Ev coming up, and he’s the best person to be away with, he’ll ride hard, and go head-to-head all the way to the line.
“Evan pushed hard up the climb, and I rode over Robbie who had cracked a little bit and got up to Evan, and that was it – no words were spoken, we just rode.
“Next up? Well, I leave tomorrow for the Tour series race in Oxford, then Redditch then Aberystwyth – three of them in the one week.”
“I’m used to being tightly man-marked in races, but I had my own personal ‘shadow’ today, but that’s fine!
“The race went pretty much to plan – the plan I wasn’t letting on to you at the start – but with a couple of laps to go I had to stop and change bikes: I heard a noise and noticed that my front brake caliper had come loose, I saw the allen bolt disappear out the back of the forks. I guess all that rattling over the cobbles in Durham last week must have worked it loose – so I got one of the motorbike marshalls to radio ahead to my pits and tell them to get my spare bike ready.
“That worked out okay, I changed bikes and got back on really quickly, but when I got back I realised that I’d missed what turned out to be the winning split, so I had a quick breather then had to ride through two groups to get up to the front again. I took Robbie up with me but I didn’t give him too much of a hard time as I could see he was cooked, and we joined James and Ali. I attacked and James came with me, and we just rode two-up to the line.
“Was it a hard sprint? I’ve won this race a few times, and James really wanted it, we’re good friends, so…” [said with tongue in cheek I suspect!].
“Like James, I’m doing the Tour Series races next week, then back home again.”
I suggested that there appeared to be some “funny business” at the Durham Tour Series race last Thursday with the bunch numbers shrinking and growing out of line with who was actually involved in crashes, and asked if this what John Herety and Malcolm Elliott were shown on TV having some words about;
“Well, the race results were being changed quite a lot after the race, I imagine as the judges reviewed all the recorded coverage from the various cameras…”
Ever the diplomat Evan.
“Yes, I managed to keep myself hidden until the last part of the race.
“The level is so high that I could see that the bunch was constantly reforming, and I knew the important moves would come in the last couple of laps.
“I saw who was going up the road, the two Herbalife guys, and Evan and James, and knew that was my moment. I couldn’t get near Ev and James, but I got passed Robbie and got myself on the podium, so I’m very pleased – and Kevin [Hodgson, VanillaBikes.com owner] will be too!
“The team guested at the Tour Series race in Kirkcaldy last Tuesday, but we’re not doing any more this year – but hopefully we’ll do the whole lot next year.”
Result - Mens Scottish Road Championship 2012
2 1 Evan Oliphant Team Raleigh-GAC Elite st
3 9 Alistair Rutherford Vanillabikes.com Elite 34
4 6 Robbie Hassan Herbalife-Leisure Lakes Bikes.com Elite/U23 46
5 38 Jack Barrett Velocity 44 Stirling 2nd/U23 st
6 2 Gary Hand Pedal Power-Endura-Forme Racing Elite st
7 25 Craig Adams GJS Racing Team 2nd st
8 7 Alastair Kay Herbalife-Leisure Lakes Bikes.com 1st st
9 17 Craig McCulloch Equipe Velo Ecosse/Montpeliers 3rd st
10 23 Peter Murdoch Team Cyclelane 1st st
11 34 Richard McDonald www.Dooleys-Cycles.co.uk 2nd st
12 40 Veli-Matti Raikkonen Granite City RT 2nd st
13 37 Rich Semple www.Dooleys-Cycles.co.uk 2nd st
14 62 David Griffiths Glasgow Wheelers 2nd/U23 st
15 21 Scott McCrossan Rock to Roll Cycles Ltd 1st/U23 st
16 50 Angus Elliott TheBicycleWorks.com 3rd/U23 st
17 12 Lewis Oliphant Equipe Velo Ecosse/Montpeliers 2nd st
18 11 Robin Wilkins Equipe Velo Ecosse/Montpeliers 1st st
19 18 Jamie Kennedy Glasgow Couriers 1st 54
20 41 Craig Wallace Granite City RT 2nd/Junior 01:50
21 22 Gordon Murdoch Team Cyclelane 1st 04:09
22 49 Craig Dale TheBicycleworks.com 3rd 04:43
23 35 Graham McGarrity www.Dooleys-Cycles.co.uk 2nd st
24 57 Gary McCrae Team Leslie Bike Shop-Right Move Windows 2nd st
25 3 David Lines Pedal Power-Endura-Forme Racing 1st st
26 15 Finlay Young Equipe Velo Ecosse/Montpeliers 2nd/U23 st
27 24 Stephen Russell Team Cyclelane 2nd st
28 36 Paul Rennie www.Dooleys-Cycles.co.uk 2nd st
29 30 Greg Brown www.Dooleys-Cycles.co.uk 2nd/U23 st
30 27 Peter Hale GJS Racing Team 3rd/Junior st
31 43 Brian Duncan Granite City RT 3rd st
32 54 Ross Crook Edinburgh RC 2nd st
33 26 Gerald Grant GJS Racing Team 3rd st
34 67 Craig Holmes Glasgow Nightingale CC 3rd st
35 14 Andrew Whitehall Equipe Velo Ecosse/Montpeliers 2nd st
36 42 Alister Watt Granite City RT 2nd st
37 68 Malcolm Paterson Glasgow Nightingale CC 3rd st
38 60 Alan Thomson Sandy Wallace Cycles 2nd st
39 46 Dale McCallum TheBicyleworks.com 2nd/Junior st
40 47 Alastair McNicol TheBicycleWorks.com 2nd/U23 04:51
41 58 Andrew Brierley Team Leslie Bike Shop-Right Move Windows 3rd at 1 Lap
Scottish Ladies RR Championship 2012
Earlier in the day the ladies race was taken in an eight-up sprint by Kayleigh Brogan (City of Edinburgh RC) ahead of young Peebles mountainbiker Katy Winton (The Kinesis Morvelo Project and a member of the GB Talent Team) and Natalie Milne (Alpine Bikes) in third.
“This was definitely a target for me today, I came here today to do a good ride, so I’ve chuffed that it all came together.
“I planned as much as I could, and thought about the gearing to use in the sprint, when to change to the right ratio before the uphill sprint, and so on. I’ve got a track background, so I was confident that I could carry my speed all the way up to the line.
“I’d really like to be picked up by a road team with a good programme – I want to spend the next couple of years building a strong road base, but I still have the Commonwealth Games track endurance events in mind, and I’m really looking forward to training and racing on the new velodrome in Glasgow in just a few months’ time.”
Silver medallist Katy looked a bit bewildered when being shepherded into the podium;
“Astounded? You bet. I’m a mountain biker, so I didn’t expect to be up there at the finish of a road race, and certainly didn’t think I’d be on the podium.
“I’m made up though, it’s been a great event and a really enjoyable day.
“Am I disappointed that I don’t have the Champ’s jersey? No, not really, I wouldn’t ever get a chance to use it as I’ve no plans to do any more road races!”
Result - Ladies Scottish Road Championship 2012
2 35 Katy Winton The Kinesis Morvelo Project st
3 27 Natalie Milne Alpine Bikes st
4 3 Laura Murray Velocity 44 Stirling st
5 7 Anda-Jay Burgess Sandy Wallace Cycles st
6 25 Anne Ewing Team Ibis Cycles st
7 23 Penelope Phillips Moray Firth Cycling Club 5
8 21 Lee Craigie Moray Firth Cycling Club 6
9 11 Louise Borthwick Edinburgh Road Club 02:27
10 4 Lettie Chambers Stirling Bike Club st
11 33 Ishbel Taromsari Falkirk Bike Club st
12 20 Charlene Joiner City of Edinburgh RC st
13 9 Gillian Palmer Sandy Wallace Cycles 02:31
14 12 Claire Martin Edinburgh Road Club 02:38
15 8 Gabriella Nordin Sandy Wallace Cycles 02:46
16 1 Gemma Neil Team Leslie Bike Shop-Right Move Windows 04:44
17 19 Louise Haston City of Edinburgh RC 04:54
18 16 Anna Harris Angus Bike Chain 07:43
19 32 Aileen Scott Fusion Triathlon Club/G3R st
20 29 Lynne Wardop Ayr Roads CC st
21 15 Madeleine Robinson Velo Club Moulin 07:47
22 17 Laura Sarkis Deeside Thistle 07:53
23 31 Claire Rutherford Vivelo Bikes/Inverse Cyclaim RT 14:54
24 36 Teri Wishart TheBicycleworks.com 14:56
25 5 Katherine Arthur Stirling Bike Club st
26 38 Jennifer Taylor Unattached 22:12
27 6 Katherine Wren Stirling Bike Club at 1 Lap
28 34 Fiona Walker Walkers Cycling Club at 1 Lap