Some folks say that last is the worst place to finish in a bike race, others say second place is the heart-breaker.
For me it would be fourth place – so near to a medal but so far.
And fourth spot was where our boy Douglas Dewey finished in the British Time Trial Championships at Stewarton on Thursday night.
Reigning champion and Giro stage winner, Movistar’s Alex Dowsett confirmed that there is, ‘life after Sky’ to keep his title – despite his front tubular parting company from the base tape on the first corner and depositing the Essex man on the tar.
When we spoke to him after the finish he was nursing some nasty wounds and seemed to us to be on the very edge of suffering from shock.
We wish him a speedy recovery – he’s a quality rider and one of the ‘Good Guys,’ totally unaffected by his star status, happy to sign autographs for wee lasses as he prepared to go to the start
Second was TT specialist Matt Bottrill who just got the better – by less than a second – of surprise package, Ben Swift (Sky) with our man in fourth spot.
Douglas has appeared on our pages a few times; he won the opening Belgian amateur classic Gent Stadden, last year.
And this year had a very successful start to the season in Brittany before coming back to take third in the British “10” and top ten in the British “25.”
VeloVeritas played host to the tall, slim man from Surrey for his tilt at the British titles against the watch at Stewarton and en ligne in Glasgow on Sunday.
The satnav had taken a bad turn so it was the old AA atlas which got us down to Ayrshire with the temperature rising by the mile and a glorious summer afternoon welcoming us to Stewarton.
Formalities first; sign on and borrow a turbo from Fin Young – we forgot ours.
Then check out the course, two laps of a 24.6 K loop – the first stretch on B class road is rolling, gnarly.
Then it’s left on to A class, rolling, nice surfaces with just a couple of roundabouts to upset the rhythm.
A good course, we all thought – not too technical but certainly no drag race either.
18:40: Martin is up the start with Douglas’s spare wheels – just in case.
Douglas used to be ‘intense’ about his racing, but has now adopted a more laid back attitude – so relaxed in fact that I’m surprised he doesn’t have a rocking chair and slippers among the mountain of gear he has with him.
He listens to tunes off his laptop as we fuss and fret over his helmet and wheels.
He spins and adjusts the volume; it wouldn’t surprise me if he was listening to some of that mellow Jack Johnstone vibe.
Big Ben Peacock rolls past on the way to the start – he’d finish seventh, a great ride in this company.
With 40 minutes on the turbo done it’s time for Douglas to ‘suit up,’ and get the Kask on as we wrestle the rear disc in.
His Felt has rear facing drop-outs – like my Condor 753 TT did back in the ’80’s – and wheel changes aren’t the most straightforward.
The Felt has Di 2 shifting with wheels by Lightweight, deep section front, disc rear and rubber from Germany – Continental Podiums.
Martin pins on his number and it’s nearly time – he has to get a second bike check up at the start so we don’t want any dramas . . .
. . . all the riders have gone, except Alex Dowsett, he’s still on the turbo, he spins, drinks and whilst he knows that he should run away with this – in this sport there are no certainties.
It’s time to get ready, he towels down and is helped to wriggle into his Movistar speedsuit; not that nice white British champion’s one we’re used to seeing him in.
The mechanics towel the sweat off the Graal; Alex saddles up, jumping kerbs on ten grand’s worth of Pinarello and heads for the start.
Alex’s two minute man, Matt Bottrill whizzes back in to the car park looking anxious; have those nerves gone to his bladder – or is there some little tinker needed with the lovely Giant?
Martin’s back from the start, we bolt down the back road to catch Douglas on the outward leg.
We hit the crossroads, and jump out, rural Ayrshire, we expect a quaint old pub – no real ale but there is tandoori.
There’s a rider coming, in black, is it Douglas?
Bottrill, damn! – we’ve missed Douglas; Bottrill’s off 37, Douglas is number 35 – the man on the Giant is moving impressively fast.
Back in the car, cut the course to the other side – Rob Partridge (UK Youth) zooms past, too quick for us to get a watch on.
He’s four minutes in front of Douglas – our man looks good but it only takes 3:35 for Bottrill to arrive behind him; it should have been 4:00 – or more.
Down 25 seconds…
We get a text from Fin Young; Dowsett’s been on the deck – that doesn’t stop him being nearly half a minute up on Bottrill.
He’s flying, high cadence, rock solid – a joy to watch, the consummate chrono man.
It wouldn’t be ’til the end we’d see the extent of his injuries – when you look through the camera viewfinder you can’t see that he can hardly hold the bars and is badly chewed up.
Back across country, we get a watch on Partridge, who’s looking good, it must be said.
But Douglas is flying, a minute up on Partridge – good news.
We have one more check to get and prize ourselves away from the curry smells.
We’re in time to get a watch on Luke Rowe (Sky) who’s slimmed down since his days winning big amateur races in Holland and has a strong chrono in his palmares – second in last year’s Duo Normand with Alex Dowsett.
Rowe’s car runs up beside him on the wrong side of the road with the passenger shouting himself hoarse – and maybe he’s forgotten that there’s no total road closure . . .
He’s 90 seconds up on Partridge.
We have a long wait on Douglas, his two minute man, Ian Stannard is DNS.
Douglas looks very good – and the watch confirms; he’s 15 seconds up on Rowe.
Can we catch him before the finish?
There’s a little queue of traffic behind our boy when we catch him at two K to go.
His head is nodding a little inside that Kask as he fights the rollers into the finish, but the cadence is good and he drops like a cruise missile down the last dip at 1,000 metres, whistling round the right hander at the bottom locked on to his tracking beam without leaving his crouch – impressive.
Douglas sprints for the line, we take the escape route; ‘I think he’s gone second,’ says Martin straining to hear what Hughie Porter is saying over the PA.
That’s not good, Bottrill and Dowsett were both up on him – it looks like fourth to us.
The verdict is confirmed and it’s one place shy of a medal for Douglas.
But there’s no ‘what ifs?’ from the man;
“I decided that I’d save a little bit for the third quarter because that’s where I usually slide – that’s what I did and it worked well; but in the last five K I was just hanging on.
“I think I paced it pretty well, I averaged 398 watts but don’t think I could have found those 12 seconds anywhere.
“But to be as close to guys like Dowsett and Swift, I can’t be unhappy.”
Ben Swift was happy with third, laughing off our suggestion that we didn’t have him down as a ‘tester.’
“It’s just another bike race, isn’t it?
“I enjoyed it, actually and it’s good they’re now running the time trial in the same week as the road race like they do in the rest of Europe – it used to be later in the season.
“I’m just out of the Tour de Suisse which was a really fast race.
“It’s taken me three months to get back from that crash I had in Mallorca. I’ve not had three months off the bike, but it’s taken that amount of time to get back to a competitive level.
“Everyone starts the year in such good condition and if you lose time it’s very hard to catch up.”
Mindful that the man was in pain we didn’t harass Alex Dowsett too long for quotes.
“I rolled my front tyre on the first corner after five or six K – it was a dodgy base tape which parted company from the tyre
“We’d decided beforehand that if there were any problems we’d change bikes – and that’s what we did.
“I have to say a big thanks to Wiggle Honda and GB guys, they’ve given me great support and the bike change couldn’t have been any faster.
“I was panicking for all of the first lap after the crash – I didn’t know if I was up or down but I got a time check at the end of the first lap which confirmed I was up and was able to settle in to my rhythm for the second circuit.”
At this point the man was chittering – it was time to leave him in peace.
Sunshine, a nice course, top notch organisation, a worthy winner, word class watts from our boy and meeting up with John and Rita Montgomery after not having seen them for an age – not a bad Thursday evening.
Results - British Time Trial Championships 2013
2 Matthew Bottrill (www.drag2zero.com) 0:00:20.60
3 Ben Swift (Sky Procycling) 0:00:20.70
4 Douglas Dewey (Hennebont Cyclisme) 0:00:32.28
5 Luke Rowe (Sky Procycling) 0:00:48.86
6 James Gullen (Hope Factory Racing) 0:01:20.60
7 James McLaughlin (Team Sojasun ACNC) 0:01:50.20
8 Benjamin Peacock (Paisley Velo Race Team) 0:02:16.15
9 Chris Opie (Team UK Youth) 0:02:25.25
10 Robert Partridge (Team UK Youth) 0:02:33.34
11 Simon Bridge (Manchester Whlrs Club) 0:02:41.26
12 Iain Grant (Dooleys-Cycles.co.uk) 0:02:44.35
13 Alistair Rutherford (Wheelbase Altura MGD) 0:03:30.66
14 Edward Perry (Ellan Vannin CC) 0:03:58.25
15 Alan Thomson (Sandy Wallace Cycles) 0:04:12.54
16 Darren Bell (Ellan Vannin CC) 0:04:16.06
17 Tom Black (Team Manx Telecom) 0:04:22.05
18 Arthur Doyle (Dooleys-Cycles.co.uk) 0:04:33.25
19 Scott Burns (Manchester Whlrs Club) 0:05:17.17
20 William Bjergfelt (MG-Maxifuel Pro Cycling) 0:05:37.49
21 Gerry McGarrity (Inverclyde Velo) 0:05:40.78
22 Silas Goldsworthy (Sandy Wallace Cycles) 0:06:21.41
23 Sean Childs (Roy. Navy & Roy. Marines) 0:06:41.79
24 James Cusick (Glasgow Couriers) 0:06:49.52
25 Gavin Shirley (Dooleys-Cycles.co.uk) 0:06:54.93
26 Jerry Cross (Manchester Whlrs Club) 0:07:17.37
27 Graeme Hatcher (Fietsen Tempo) 0:07:40.96
28 David Watson (Coventry Road Club) 0:08:39.32
29 Mark Skilling (Ayr Roads Cycling Club) 0:08:45.52
30 Christopher Staples (Fullarton Wheelers) 0:10:29.00
2 Elizabeth Armitstead (Boels Dolmans) 0:00:32.15
3 Katie Colclough (Specialized-Lululemon) 0:01:37.06
4 Emma Trott (Boels Dolmans) 0:01:55.97
5 Laura Trott OBE (Wiggle Honda) 0:02:00.82
6 Lucy Coldwell 0:02:14.56
7 Elinor Barker (Wiggle Honda) 0:02:17.07
8 Anna Turvey (Tyneside Vagabonds CC) 0:02:38.01
9 Hannah Barnes (MG-Maxifuel Pro Cycling) 0:02:56.53
10 Julia Shaw (www.drag2zero.com) 0:03:19.16
11 Rebecca Slack (Look Mum No Hands) 0:03:46.60
12 Natalie Creswick (Mulebar Girl-Sigma Sport) 0:03:47.60
13 Danielle King (Wiggle Honda) 0:03:49.52
14 Emma Grant (Matrix Fitness RA) 0:04:37.17
15 Katie Archibald (City of Edinburgh RC) 0:04:58.54
16 Fiona Duncan (Ythan CC) 0:05:01.76
17 Hayley Simmonds (GB Cycles.co.uk) 0:05:03.76
18 Molly Weaver (Breast Cancer Care CT) 0:05:31.65
19 Joanne Blakeley (Champion/Maxgear/Base) 0:06:08.24
20 Rebecca Rimmington 0:06:21.85
21 Anda-Jay Burgess (Sandy Wallace Cycles) 0:06:28.13
22 Amy Roberts (Wiggle Honda) 0:06:33.82
23 Jennifer Taylor (Velo Ecosse/Montpeliers) 0:06:37.95
24 Helen McKay (Look Mum No Hands) 0:07:23.96
25 Joanna Smith (Feminin Languedoc Roussillon) 0:08:46.89
26 Lynne Wardrop (Ayr Roads Cycling Club) 0:09:07.96
27 Danielle Christmas (Team ASL360) 0:09:13.02
28 Laura Wasley (Scott Contessa Epic) 0:10:04.27
29 Valerie Martin (Dooleys-Cycles.co.uk) 0:11:03.79
30 Laura Nicolson (Moray Firth CC) 0:11:18.32
31 Elanor Cadzow (Welwyn Whls CC) 0:11:31.32
2 Joseph Perrett Team IG – Sigma Sport 0:45:11.00
3 George Atkins 100% ME 0:46:12.57
4 Daniel Mclay Lotto-Belisol U23 0:46:52.40
5 Jonathan Dibben 100% ME 0:47:29.74
6 Jonathan Mould Team UK Youth 0:47:43.57
7 Joshua Teasdale Terra Footwear – Bicycle Line 0:48:14.09
8 Liam Glen Wheelbase Altura MGD 0:48:28.49
9 Elliott Porter Rapha Condor JLT 0:48:29.76
10 Edward Laverack Rapha Condor JLT 0:48:30.31
11 Sebastian Baylis Madison Genesis 0:48:52.99
12 Will Stephenson Rapha Condor JLT 0:49:21.82
13 Alexander Royle Banjo Cycles 0:50:04.46
14 Edward Clemens Spirit Bikes Racing Team 0:50:21.57
15 Michael Barnes Aprire Bicycles 0:50:37.71
16 Duncan Ewing TheBicycleWorks.com 0:51:07.70
17 Jack Waller Spirit Bikes Racing Team 0:51:26.62
18 John Findley Bill Nickson Cycles RT 0:51:32.99
19 Chris Dredge Spirit Bikes Racing Team 0:51:34.33
20 Finlay Young Velo Ecosse/Montpeliers 0:52:09.01
21 Jake Coward Rapha Condor CC 0:55:03.06
22 Josh Burke Wolverhampton Whls 0:57:27.71