When it became apparent that the Scottish Vets’ Road Race Championship 2007 — over 65 wet and hilly miles at Alford – would end in a sprint finish, most bets were on fast-finisher Graham McGarrity (Edge RT).
John Kermode (Dundee Thistle) had other ideas however and McGarrity had to settle for second.
Kermode was, understandably; ‘delighted’, whilst McGarrity: ‘hates to lose a sprint, especially in vets’ race!’
The car computer read 13 degrees as the field rolled-out of Alford Ski Centre but the rain which would persist throughout the event, coupled with a cold breeze, made it feel chilly – especially on the higher points of the two 30-odd mile loops around the Correen Hills which fringe the Grampian Mountains.
Favourites included McGarrity, a former winner of the Scottish senior road race championships, Jim Cusick (Glasgow Couriers) the current Scottish 50 mile time champion and defending champion Stuart McGregor (Velo Ecosse).
David Whitehall (unattached), was another interesting entry, a multiple winner of Scottish titles in the 70’s and 80’s.
VeloVeritas had been charged with keeping an eye on 50 plus favourite, Jim Leslie (the bicycleworks) by his Spanish-based mentor Al Hamilton, but the Portobello man failed to appear and it was Kirkcaldy rider Graham Barclay who finished best of “the more mature riders.”
After one hour’s riding on the climb out of Rhynie, it looked like the race pattern had formed, with five up the road including McGregor, Kermode and McGregor with Cusick and Barclay bridging-up.
McGregor in particular looked to have the bit firmly between his teeth and a seven man group of this quality would usually stay away in a Scottish senior event.
Surprisingly, this break was caught, McGarrity put it down to;
“I think we all thought that we were the break of the day and got a bit complacent.”
Kermode put it differently;
“Nobody gave-up in the group behind.”
whilst McGregor felt;
“We weren’t working as a cohesive unit.”
On the big climb over the flank of 493 metre Bennachie on the second lap it was all together, with a savage dig from McGarrity failing to do the damage he wanted;
“I’ve split the race on that climb a couple of times in the past, but not today!”
The second climb out of Rhynie saw McGregor at the front driving a little group clear, but despite exhortations to his fellow breakaways, the gap at the top wasn’t sufficient and it was apparent that it was going to be a blanket finish.
The rain-lashed finishing straight was flat and fast, curving gently to the right and it was McGarrity who launched first;
“I went at around 250 to go, with the benefit of hind