Raleigh professional Evan Oliphant handled the age old dilemma of the pro racing against amateurs – if they don’t win they’re criticised, but if they do then it’s ‘expected’ – by taking the best option and winning the Gala CC’s Gordon Arms Hilly Time Trial over 20.5 cold and cloudy Borders miles in 50:06; some ways short of Mark Atkinson’s (Velo Ecosse) 1999 course record of 48:47 but enough to give him the result by 41 seconds over Carl Donaldson (GS Metro).

Gordon Arms
Evan Oliphant, winner of the Gordon Arms TT by a good margin.

Third, although we didn’t know it before we left for home because the copy of the start sheet we had didn’t name rider #73, his time at the finish was listed as 1:00:40 and he was riding in a Team GB skinsuit, was Harry Tanfield.

Gordon Arms
Harry Tanfield finished third.

In fourth spot was Commonwealth Games pursuit hopeful and previous winner of ‘The Gordon’ Silas Goldsworthy (Sandy Wallace) with 51:46, just shading team mate – and another previous winner – Alan Thomson by seven seconds.

Gordon Arms
Silas Goldsworthy was in a hurry today too.

Making it three Giant TT rigs in the first five.

Sixth was Rigmar Racers’ Steven Lawley just one second behind Thomson; NFTO pro James McCallum took seventh place in 52:10 and was at pains to emphasise; ‘fastest on a road bike’ from the big field of 90 riders.

Gordon Arms
Like most of the top finishers, fourth placed Alan Thomson rode the Gifford RR yesterday.
Gordon Arms
Good to see James McCallum going ‘alone and unpaced’ today.

For those not from the ‘hood, the Gordon Arms is a fine old Borders inn dating back more than 200 years; and in those days was a haunt of the Scottish literary set with the likes of Sir Walter Scott and James Hogg (The Ettrick Shepherd) draining tankards within it’s sturdy sandstone walls.

Gordon Arms
The famous Gordon Arms inn.
Gordon Arms
Walter Scott was a regular visitor to the inn 180 years ago.
Gordon Arms
The essential tools of the trade for a hilly time trial.

The course climbs straight off from the start outside the inn, crosses the ridge to drop to the Ettrick River, turns left to run along the valley before taking another left and climbing back over the ridge to drop down to the Yarrow Valley and the fast run back to the start.

It’s technical and gnarly – one for the roadmen as well as the powerhouse testers with ‘drags’ rather than ‘snaps’ to test the legs.

Gordon Arms
One of the Scottish powerhouse riders Ben Peacock is aiming for Commonwealth Games selection on the track.

But there was fat to chew before the start, Fin Young has abandoned Velo Ecosse in favour of Rigmar racers.

Gordon Arms
Fin Young and fellow Rigmar Racer Phil Trodden prep for the task ahead.

Fin’s day would end on a negative though as a motorbike pulled across his path just after he crossed the finish line giving him no chance to avoid it and necessitating a trip to A & E.

‘Get well soon, Fin.’

Gordon Arms
Finlay gamely shows his busted wheel.

NFTO’s Jamesy McCallum was ruing letting Tommy Bustard ‘dangle’ on the last lap at Gifford the day before – “when the time came to chase and bring him back, no one would…

Gordon Arms
The selection clock is ticking for Silas and the other Commonwealth Games hopefuls.

Silas Goldsworthy was carrying the scars of a crash at Gifford – he has until May 25th to ride under that 4 mins 30 seconds which will let him line up for the individual pursuit at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

Ben Peacock is close, with a 4:31 to his name; but there’s still no confirmation on a Scottish team pursuit squad for Glasgow – they have to ride a 4:10 to go.

Gordon Arms
Ben Peacock is close to the qualifying standard for the ‘Games.

Evan Oliphant was a long way from glamour of the The Tour of the Med and Haut Var on this cold morning; but the job is the same – display the sponsor’s name as best you can.

Gordon Arms
Evan chats about his ride.

The first riders lined up and we headed off up the start climb; we parked around half way, where the riders enjoyed a strong tail wind – this same wind however combined with the low cloud and was soon taking us close to hypothermia.

Gordon Arms
Off no.30, Tom Arnstein looked good at this point.
Gordon Arms
Andrea Pogson’s style was efficient, neat and tidy.
Gordon Arms
GS Metro’s Ben Lane heads up the climb.

It was time to move up the climb, where the cloud was even thicker but at least we weren’t so close to blacking out with the wind chill.

Previous winner, Barry McGurk (Glasgow Road Club) was a non-starter and the first man who looked to be ‘on it’ was eventual sixth placed, off number 40 Steven Lawley – on a biggish gear and powering up through the murk.

Gordon Arms
Steven Lawley looked strong on the first climb.

And before we go any further, we were reminded of a serious threat to the sport by several competitors today – beards.

No chaps, no; Fabio Baldato was the only rider ever who could get away with one – please shave, as soon as possible.

Gordon Arms
Only Fabio.

Number 50 was Jamesy, looking purposeful on his road bike and already catching riders.

Gordon Arms
Anna Turvey of the Tyneside Vagabonds.

Number 57, Anna Turvey (Tyneside Vagabonds) tyres made the best noise over the tar; reminded us of float days on the Dundee road in the 80’s…

Evan was off 60 and looking the part, on a big gear, in the crouch and getting the power down – on visual, fastest so far.

Gordon Arms
Evan was visibly the quickest up the hill.

It was time for another move – and some heater time – so we headed off back down toward the start.

Gary Robson (Gala) off 75 was another previous winner – but today wasn’t going to see a repeat, despite his nice style.

Gordon Arms
Gary Robson (Gala CC).

Jim Cusick’s style is usually easy to spot in his Couriers’ strip but he’s changed allegiances to Dooleys for 2014 – it wouldn’t help him make the top six on this day.

Gordon Arms
It’s going to take us a race or two to get used to Jim’s new colours.

We didn’t stop to snap eventual second Carl Donaldson but did get pics of Alan Thomson and last man Silas Goldsworthy – both looking good and with little to choose between them.

Gordon Arms
Silas was wearing the evidence of a fall in the Gifford RR yesterday, but looked to be going well nonetheless.

At this point our prediction was: Oliphant, Thomson, Goldsworthy – that ultimately wasn’t too bad, with no stopwatch.

We dropped off the climb and turned right to head out ‘against’ the race to watch the big hitters finish.

There wasn’t time to stop to get a shot of Jamesie but he was looking strong, hunched over the bike and punting a big gear round.

We caught Evan on a downhill; looking every inch the top tester and reminding us of British ‘25’ Champion, Joe Perrett – it looked like a winner’s style to us.

Gordon Arms
Evan’s position and style on the bike is top class.

At the bridge where the race drops off the ridge to pick up the valley road there were a variety of modus operandii – Ben Peacock (Paisley Velo) didn’t have a sense of urgency about him, neither did Jim Cusick; but Carl Donaldson looked the part as he flashed down across the cattle grid and zoomed on to the valley road – just on that little display we knew he’d be ‘up there.’

Gordon Arms
Carl Donaldson rode with some ‘urgency’ to take second place.
Gordon Arms
Gary Robson knows his way around these roads better than most, and shot through the tricky sections.
Gordon Arms
Alan Thomson concentrates as he flies down the descent.

Alan Thomson and Silas Goldsworthy still had little to choose between them and both were moving well.

Gordon Arms
Stuart Balfour repassed Silas before finally succumbing to his minute man’s power.

Albeit Silas had taken to this point to catch minute man, young Stuart Balfour (Spokes Racing team) – but on the fast valley road to the finish Silas could use the mega gears and he quickly put distance between himself and Balfour.

Gordon Arms
Silas had the power in the tailwind home straight.

Our ‘visual’ proved correct, Oliphant fastest, Tanfield looking good, Donaldson nabbing third and the Sandy Wallace boys in fourth and fifth place.

Good parcours, no ‘janitors’ officiating, a big field, a pro winner; so not a bad race at all but please sort the weather for next year, guys – it’s British Summer Time for heaven’s sake!

Gordon Arms
Top bloke Ken Whitson deserves a mention for his hard work at the races.