A man who can wheel about with Ineos World Tour beasts Ian Stannard and Ben Swift then win the Stockton Grand Prix with a 100 kilometre solo break was never going to have too much trouble with the Scottish Road Championship 2019 – and so it proved.
John Archibald (Ribble Pro Cycling) solo-ed to a four minute victory across the Backwater Dam on a bright but breezy day in the Angus hills.
Second was Fraser Martin (Wheelbase Cab Tech Castelli) who Archibald rode away from on the first of the tough Mount Blair circuits.
Third was Richard McDonald (Bioracer Moriarty Bikes) who out sprinted another Wheelbase man, Finn Crockett to take bronze with yet another Wheelbase man, Joe Reilly taking fifth.
These five had formed the ‘break of the day’ which defined the race and never looked like coming back.
Despite the sunshine and all those nice bikes on display, it was hard to drag me self out of the van at the Pitcronkie Restaurant race HQ near Alyth – Paul Gambaccini was playing great tunes from 1965; it was tough to switch the ignition off…
I had a quick wander round then headed on to the course which climbed from the off before the first of five circuits of the bonnie, leafy Loch of Linrathen circuit.
Around the loch was pan flat but there were two ascents on the loop, one which rose in ‘steps’ into the wind and where one could sit in but another faster climb which curved round a hillside and spelled curtains for more than a few.
My first sighting was just past the flat loch section on lap one where that man McDonald was already on the attack with Aidan Quinn (Dooleys).
And as is the current vogue with off-road guys taking to the tar, Rab Wardell (unattached) was well to the fore.
For lap two I was on the second climb and the break of the day was already formed and working well under welcome sunshine.
Davie Lines was keeping an eye on things for his Wheelbase team mates back at the head of a strung out bunch.
Defending champion, Mark Robertson (Army Cycling Union) was well there too but it wasn’t to be his day…
Whilst recently crowned British Veterans Criterium Champion, Martin Lonie (Nunns-Sigma Sport-London RT) wasn’t enjoying this ‘gravity stuff’ – there’s not much of that in crits.
Lap three and I’d relocated to the sharp turn between the two climbs where the break swept through without missing a beat.
Multiple former Scottish Road race Champion – seven times – Evan Oliphant (Spartans Velo Club) looked comfy enough in the bunch, on just five weeks training.
For lap four I was on the ‘stepped’ climb with the break ploughing up into the breeze.
The gruppo was proceeding a rather more sedate pace but still just a little too hot for Tommy Murray (Hawick CC) who called ‘time’ as they passed me.
And just as Mark Robertson was trying to quietly climb off, some pesky beggar with a camera appeared…
Martin Lonie had climbed off too but spotted the camera and quickly disappeared from view.
I skipped lap five in order to get ahead of the race for the tough Kilry Moor climb, en route I caught up with some Perth United friends from the ‘old days’ when we used to test on the ‘Perthie’ – that’s the Perth to Dundee dual carriageway to you young uns.
John Shelley (on the left) was a time tester of note and even grabbed silver in the Scottish Kilometre Championship behind Sandy Gilchrist – who else – and Brian Smith (centre) was a solid road man in the 70’s.
The climb up across the moors was a belter, long, exposed, breezy and far from easy, albeit the men in the break didn’t seem too stressed.
The ‘man with the handlebars’ Thomas Gelati had slipped a little on this one – aero advantage doesn’t much come into it a sub 10 mph speeds.
Johnstone Wheelers’ Frenchman – he qualifies to ride by having lived here for three years – Sam Robinson winner, Cedric Sachet wasn’t on his best day and would call it a day at the top.
As did Davie Lines, seen here riding back ‘against’ the race, sorry about that sign Davie, I never noticed it, honest!
A tough parcours for sure but stunning vistas.
On the tough Mount Blair circuit I met Dundee Thistle worthy, Lionel Wylie, 1965 Scottish BAR and still racking up the miles.
Lionel suggested a good spot from which to view the race; the man knows his stuff – this was the very spot which Archibald chose to go solo, taking four minutes out of second placed Martin by the finish.
Martin was next up just a few seconds back but that was the last he’d see of the flying Archibald until the finish.
McDonald and Crockett had been shed by Archibald and Martin coming round a minute and more back.
Joe Reilly was ‘en seule’ as the French say.
And a sore looking peloton was well back with Mr. Oliphant tucked neatly in.
I skipped the second Mount Blair lap to make the finish at Backwater Reservoir; the first time I’ve seen a yellow flag atop a dam wall – and a beautiful spot.
There was no victory salute from Archibald, just the quiet satisfaction of another job done.
The rest came in in dribs and drabs, as one would expect on a course as tough as this one.
It was a day for ‘Golden Oldies’ with another two Thistle legends at the finish, Stuart Allan (left), a prolific winner in the North back in the 70’s on the road, track and in time trials.
On the right, Barry aka ‘Ned’ Carnegie, a top Scottish road star ‘back in the day’ and if I’m not mistaken, Scottish Hill Climb Champion.
For a man who’d just finished seventh on such a tough day, Evan Oliphant looked pretty fresh off just five weeks training.
Walking back to the van I snapped Angus Bike Chain’s Nico Anelli who soldiered on to finish the course on a day when many succumbed to the stiff breezes and hills.
Time to head home – wonder if I can catch Paul Gambaccini on the iPlayer, tomorrow?