Ailsa Craig is lost in the low cloud, visibility isn’t much beyond the breakwater. The rain is a fine, freezing, stinging mist – it’s a perfect day for the last stage at The Girvan 2007.
We’ve just agreed that the guys from Bike&Run London, with their cool all-white kit and matching all-white Looks, opened the curtains before breakfast and began packing the car for the trip home immediately.
To make matters worse, it’s a lovely day on the east coast, however, Margaret our landlady assures us: “rain before seven, dry by eleven!” We hope she’s right.
‘Dave Double-Decks’ had the night off at the Roxy last night, so I don’t have ringing in my ears this morning it was another three bottles of beer night and we were in bed well before the witching hour.
I have 950 words to do for Cycling Weekly between the stage finish and a 4.00 pm deadline – maybe we should wheel past Victoria Wines and buy a miniature of brandy, so I can calm my nerves.
By the top of the first climb, five have gone backwards, never to be seen again – that’s not even three miles. As soon as we hit the wee, twisty, gritty road that leads to the foot of the Nick, via Barr, the serious punctures and casualties of war start. Some get back – most don’t.
Right at the start of the Nick, McCauley attacks. It’s a mess on the climb, with riders everywhere. At the top of the Nick, McCauley is well clear and has been joined by Dave Clarke. Tairlaw is next and it’s misty up there. Phil Brown tries to bridge up with Lee Davis and takes around a minute from the bunch, but McCauley is another minute ahead.
The descent is wild, with punctures and crashes; one rider is so far off the road he looks like a Scots Magazine cover, standing alone amid the heather.
An urban myth is confirmed on the descent as Ronnie Todd – we rub our eyes – a ‘pro’ mechanic, has turned Ray Wilson’s bike upside down. The Orca sits there, balanced on the saddle and pricey brake levers as the spanner man tinkers with the front skewer – I’ve got witnesses.
Phil and co. get absorbed by the bunch around Straiton, where McCauley’s lead is at it’s maximum of 2.45. After that, the lead starts to slide and at the nasty Hadyard climb it’s down to 1-55.
Tony Gibb punctures just at the bottom and comes past us like a bear after his wheel change; he doesn’t know the climb though and we re-pass him as his face tells it’s own story.
Up past the wind turbines and it’s blown apart, the descent doesn’t see much of a re-groupment.
Into Barr 14 spectators watch, then it’s time to tackle the Screws; McCauley has 1-13 at the top.
At Dailly it’s 45 seconds and at White Cottage 32 seconds.
Through Girvan, all together, Byne Hill, more pain. We make it 17/18 clear at the top. Over the top of the Byne, left onto that sinuous potholed wee road.
The attacks go fast and furious but are always negated until ‘Deano’ snaps the elastic and hits the main Girvan Road at five to go with a lead of around 12 seconds.
It’s winnable from here, Dawson did it, the other year. Deano however doesn’t, and it’s altogether back into Girvan.
A little figure in black (do you like that retro Rapha kit?) hammers along the bottom of Victory Park, cranks it left and pumps a big one up the finish straight – it’s Deano!
He told me later that he took massive risks – but the end justifies the means. The stage is won, what about the GC?
Wilkinson’s take is that Newton’s team mate, Graham Briggs (aka Briggsy) was to lead out his Recycling, ex-twice World Champ gaffer but got carried away and took the sprint for second. If Newton had taken second then he would have won, provided Wilkinson wasn’t third.
From left, Stage 4 Winner Dean Downing, 3rd Overall Gordon McCauley, Race Winner Ian Wilkinson, and 2nd Overall Chris Newton.
Our team’s new-boy and guest of the Kingdom of Fife rode a stormer today and finished with all the big beasts. I wonder what odds Norrie Drummond will give me on Phil winning his trophy next weekend?
Back to the digs, kindle-up the word processor and gets those words into cyber-space. It’s the train home for Ed. Girvan-Ayr-Glasgow-Edinburgh-Kirkcaldy, isn’t Scotland diverse?
Margaret’s weather forecast was wrong by the way, but maybe she meant eleven at night?
The Girvan 2007 Winners & Losers
Stage one was good to Chris Newton;
“I saw that there was a group up the road and I bridged-up to them on Byne Hill the second time. I’ve been doing a lot of track work and I wasn’t sure of my endurance, so I missed a few turns. Sharman lead it out, but Wilko (Ian Wilkinson) cut across me, it was dangerous really, but I went again and got it. My gallop is good but I’m not sure about my staying power, still, it’s nice to get a win in the bag.”
Stage one wasn’t so good to Ryan Bonser (Recycling.co.uk), he landed heavily on his face in the crash which put Jason Macintyre out of the race:
“Someone cut across us from the middle of the bunch and took us out, I rode over someone’s wheel and did a full face-plant. My face is a bit swollen but it’s not so bad.”
Stage two was another good day for the track riders as Tony Gibb claimed victory;
“It all went to plan tonight, I didn’t show my face all day. We had to change the plan for my lead-out on the last lap, Jason Allan was going to be my last man, but he had to put a lot of work in to get Dean Downing back on the second last lap, so we switched and I came off Gordon’s (McCauley) wheel. I went maybe a bit too early but I’ve got a lot of strength just now, I could have done with a 54 rather than a 53 ring though.”
Big loser on stage 3 was Premier Calendar leader, Dean Downing, who slipped completely out of contention;
“It was my own fault, when that big group went early we had to work the team hard to get it back, we were riding at 60 kph in some places. I did the last big spell and it took a lot out of me; when Newton jumped across to the break after Creetown, I just didn’t have the legs.”
And will he be going flat-out to salvage a last stage victory?
“I might be!”
Going into the last stage, Irishman Raymond Wilson (Tartan Terrors) who rides for Scottish club, Dunfermline CC was lying 20th overall and well on the way to his goal of achieving a top 20 finish. On the tough climbs of the Nick o’ Balloch and Tairlaw, he was well positioned. On the misty and sinuous descent of Tairlaw however, the sight of his bike turned upside down and resting on the saddle and brake levers as a mechanic manipulated the quick release skewer on the front wheel didn’t bode well and sure enough it was a dejected Wilson who trailed in as part of a small group many minutes down, his dreams of a good Girvan in tatters.