The new Scottish Cycling Super 6 series kicked off in grand style today at Gifford in beautiful East Lothian, with Gary Hand taking a well-executed and deserved solo win in the ‘A’ Race, in a superbly organised Edinburgh Road Club event.
It was a great result for his pedalpower.org.uk/Endura Race Team as his teammate Gordon Murdoch came across the line in 2nd place 32 seconds behind, and with David Lines in 6th place at 3’25” and Paul Coates next in just 1 second behind pedalpower easily won the team award, a feat which mirrored the team’s earlier success in the ‘B’ race. Paul Coates also won the KoM competition, and Gary Hand the Sprints competition to round off a very successful day for the team.
There were new faces and new team colours to get to know, such as the redesigned Dooley’s Cycles team, which pays a tribute to their member Jason MacIntyre who sadly passed away in January this year, with black armbands bearing his name – a nice touch. Race organiser Chris Harney told us last week that Jason’s was in fact the first entry he received for the event, which excited him about the prospect of a top-class field for his races, and he certainly wasn’t disappointed.
It was great to see a full field of 80 riders roll out of Gifford on a fairly nippy but sunny, early spring afternoon: an unusually large field in Scottish races of late.
Ahead of them lay 8 laps of an 8 mile circuit, which we previewed last week. A friend of mine reckoned that the race was rather short, but given the time of year, the circuit to be used, and the likelihood of a strong westerly wind, I thought the race would still find the same winner. We said last week that if it was windy it could play a large part in the outcome of the race, and so it proved, with riders finding that deep-section carbon rims, together with gaps and gates in the hedgerows meant that the gale force 3 sideways gusts made for a difficult time in the bunch, and was apparently the source of at least one crash in the earlier ‘B’ race.
Proof, if proof were needed, as to the strength of the wind, came when I was about to get changed out of my cycling kit at my car before the ‘A’ race started (I had ridden round the circuit to watch and take photos when the earlier ‘B’ race was on). I had my bike above my head to mount it onto the roof-rack, when my boot was slammed shut by a gust of wind – locking my car keys inside! Slapping my forehead like Homer, I had no choice but to watch the first few laps of the ‘A’ race from the side of the road, cycling round the parcours the wrong way to keep warm. Thankfully, Gillian turned up with my spare set of car keys shortly afterwards.
The race pattern was decided early on – in fact on the first of the 8 laps – when a break of 6 riders made their escape off the front of the bunch into the block headwind and short, sharp hill shortly after Bolton at 5 miles (trying saying that when you’re frozen at the side of the road with your gloves in the boot), driven along by several PedalPower riders.
Once onto the B6355, and charging along towards Gifford again on the undulating roads with a strong tailwind, 2 more riders made contact, and the 8 continued to collaborate well for the majority of the race, pressing home an advantage that the bunch never looked likely to close.
I watched them fly up the drag towards the main road on their second lap, and was able to see that the gap – although they were still visible to their chasers – was already significant by then, at just over 2 minutes. The break was working well together and contained Gary Hand, Gordon Murdoch, David Lines and Paul Coates (all pedalpower.org.uk/Endura Race Team), Paul Rennie (Dooleys Cycles), Jim Cusick (Glasgow Couriers – Bennett), Tim Allen (GS Metro), and Ross Creber (Science in Sport – Trek).
By this point the riders were on lap 3, and now, safely ensconsed in the passenger seat of a lovely warm car with a thoughtfully provided fudge doughnut and flask of tea, I watched the riders flying down a sheltered descent a mile after the finish area, concentrating on building on their time gap, which was now 2′ 15″.
The race stayed pretty much like this for a while, and then on the 5th lap some fireworks were let off in the bunch, as a group of 8 riders escaped and set about reducing the leading 8’s advantage.
Silas Goldsworthy (Equipe Velo Ecosse/Montpeliers) was giving it everything just in front of the other 7, but they were now looking at a deficit of over 2’40”, and I didn’t reckon that was closeable in 3 and a half laps.
Old-hand Phil Brown (Equipe Velo Ecosse/Montpeliers) looked strong as he led another group of 15 riders past, but smiled wryly to me when I shouted that he was 3’27” down: he knew that he wasn’t racing for the win anymore, but of course realised that there was mileage in continuing to drive on, as his eventual 12th place evidences.
The remnants of the bunch passed us at over 4’00” down (above), as we decided to partake of the free BBQ in the town centre, and wait until the race came through to begin lap 6.
Whilst waiting for the riders to reappear, and munching on several very welcome sausage and onion rolls, I was able to watch Chris Hanley as he flitted about between the various officials, ensuring everyone was on top of things and happy with how it was all going. We had a quick chat, and then he was off, taking one of the sponsors around in his car to see the conclusion of the race unfolding close up.
Gillian offered to take the photos of the riders coming through the town on the end of their 5th lap, on the stroke of 3pm, whilst I was catching up with some old friends like Physio Pat and Kev “Barn Door” (off to Mallorca next week – take me with you!), and Fergus Watt (back in the country after a spell teaching English in Hong Kong). After using a slow-moving tractor to set up the shots, she seemed surprised when the riders passed through the town at over 30mph and she didn’t get a single good image. Bless. Er, can you do the time checks for me on the next lap, love?
Still in Gifford and refuelled and warmed-up ourselves, we watched the riders belt through for their 6th time.
Things had changed a fair bit in the format of the race since the last passage. This time there were only 4 riders out in front, Gary Hand, Paul Coates and Gordon Murdoch (all pedalpower.org.uk/Endura Race Team), and Ross Creber (Science in Sport – Trek), followed 31 seconds later (thanks Gillian) by the second half of the break: David Lines (pedalpower.org.uk/Endura Race Team), Jim Cusick (Glasgow Couriers – Bennett), Paul Rennie (Dooleys Cycles), and Tim Allen (GS Metro).
We drove counter to the race direction, towards East Saltoun, and stopped to watch the KoM Prime sprint on Lap 7. Hand easily outsprinted Creber for the points – these two having put 9 seconds of daylight between themselves and Murdoch and Coates.
By now the race had exploded in several different groups: Lines, Cusick and Rennie came past at 1’08”, with Tim Allan (GS Metro) on his own a further 2’10” back – apparently a pucture caused him to lose contact with the group.
The large chase group and bunch had both split up, and 5 small groups of between 2 and 20 riders filed past between 6 and 8 minutes behind, and by now the fire had gone out for many; they were looking grateful that they were about to begin the last lap.
Continuing around the circuit, we we surprised to quickly come across the lead car again – the race had really lit up, and yes, it looked like there was a single rider on the horizon tearing towards us. We couldn’t guess which of the break’s riders it might be as they had all looked very strong.
In fact, it was Gary Hand, who had shaken off Ross Creber to go for the solo win, and with around 4 miles to go he had 28 seconds lead over Creber, who now had Hand’s teammate Murdoch for company, and sitting pretty on the wheel – not what you want when some bit-and-bit would come in handy.
Paul Coates had slipped back to the company of teammate Lines, Rennie and Cusick.Would it stay like this for the finish?
At the finish, just as race announcer Jammy Johnston arrived and was advising over his car-mounted PA system that we were to expect a lone winner, Gary Hand came into view, and modestly celebrated a very convincing win as he rolled over the blue timing mats – the photo-finsh equipment not being needed for this race anyway.
Next up, as expected really, at 32 seconds, was Hand’s teammate Murdoch, having jumped Creber through Gifford with a mile or so to go and stayed clear.
Creber nonetheless gamely and rightly celebrated his 3rd place, realising that the PedalPower team were simply too strong today, individually and in numbers.
Ross Creber (Science in Sport – Trek / Great) was happy with a strong 3rd today.
The timing mats showed that riders came across the line individually, until the 17th place rider finished, but the largest group to complete consisted of only 6 riders. 45 finishers from 80 starters shows that indeed, this was far from an “easy” course.
Riders were reminded by Jammy over his PA not to cross over the timing mats as they headed back to the town, and to kindly keep to the side of the road whilst talking to the “gentlemen of the press” (…does he mean me?!).
What They Said
Gary Hand & Godon Murdoch
Grabbing Gary and Gordon straight after the finish, I asked them if they’d had a plan for the race, because it certainly looked that way.
“Aye, we knew the break would go early, and so when it went we made sure we had as many of our riders in it as possible, and then we worked hard to get it going.
“We got 20 seconds really quickly at the Prime, and just kept working away at it. We deliberately kept it all together for 5 laps or so, as everyone was working hard and seemed strong, and also because the wind was making it very hard, so the more of us there were, the better.
“We’ve all started the season going really well, we’ve had a good winter and trained hard, and we’re very motivated for the season, this is a great start for us and of course, we’re very happy.”
As the organiser of his first ever cycle promotion, and only in the sport less than two years, Chris has impressed everybody with his approach and endeavour to make these races the best he could. As Ed said last week, he’s certainly set the bar pretty high for the other Super 6 organisers. I asked Chris how he felt about it.
“It was a hectic day, and not everything went according to plan, so we’ll certainly learn from this experience. 350 sausages, 300 cups of soup and the marquee on the village green all helped to create a magnificent atmosphere for the specator and for the townsfolk. I hope 160 riders got their season off to an enjoyable start as well!
“I must say thanks to Scottish Cycling and to my club, the Edinburgh RC, and especially to our sponsors: Scottish Power Renewables, Field & Lawn Marquees, and The Goblin Ha’ Hotel, as well as of course the people of Gifford for giving their tremendous support for this event – one question from the townsfolk tonight I keep hearing is ‘how soon can you come back?’ “.
The ‘B’ Race
The series had begun earlier in the day, at 10:30, as the ‘B’ race – which also boasted a full field of 80 riders – faced what for many of them was the first race of the season. A combination of a lack of race fitness, the very strong gusty wind which emphasised the chill factor (especially for the marshalls and spectators), several crashes, and the undulating and often-exposed roads, resulted in a front group of some 30 riders going clear on the seconds lap of 5, and staying away and together the entire race, despite several brave attempts to split the group up, with Robert Kennedy (Glasgow Nightingale CC) proving to have the best gallop in him after a hard 40 miles.
The blustery wind was blamed for a crash on the second lap at Cockles, but fortunately no-one was seriously hurt.
The gap hovered around the 2 minute mark pretty much all race long, whilst the bunch worked together pretty well, but were unable to make an impression.
On lap 4, the second last lap, Kiaran McCluskey (Team Icarus) and Greig Walker (Edinburgh RC) tried bravely to get away from the lead group, and they worked hard to see a maximum lead of 25 seconds. Passing through Gifford town centre and swinging left to begin the last lap, Walker had dropped his companion and was holding a 14 second gap over him.
There wasn’t any way that solo riders could hold off such a large group however, especially into the fierce wind along the back of the course, and they were both swept up a few miles before the finish.
I waited at the finish for the riders to come back around, and realised after riding around myself and then stopping, just how cold it was. Chatting to the photo-finish and timing guys, I was impressed by effort and time that had gone into the event.
Soon enough, the head of the race came blasting around the corner, and Robert Kennedy (Glasgow Nightingale CC) was a clear winner from Niall Aitken (pedal power.org.uk/Endura Race) and Ian Wilcox (Unattached).
I was chatting to a few young lads at the finish, who were enthusiastically recalling the finer details of their race to me, when one of them asked, perhaps because I had my PezCyclingNews kit on, “You are Ed Hood, aren’t you?”. If you know both of us, you’d laugh like I did!
With only 10 non-finishers, the riders showed great determination and provided a fantastic start to the new Scottish Cycling Super 6 series. We’re looking forward very much to Round 2 at Wanlockhead!
1 Gary Hand pedalpower.org.uk/Endura Race T E 02:51:09
2 Gordon Murdoch pedalpower.org.uk/Endura Race T E @32″
3 Ross Creber Science in Sport – Trek / Great 2 @43″
4 Paul Rennie Dooleys Cycles 1 @02:42″
5 Jim Cusick Glasgow Couriers – Bennett Deve 2V @02:44
6 David Lines pedalpower.org.uk/Endura Race T 2 @03:25
7 Paul Coats pedalpower.org.uk/Endura Race T 1 @03:26
8 Tim Allan GS Metro 2 @06:51
9 Scott MaCrae pedalpower.org.uk/Endura Race T 2 @07:12
10 Alister Watt Granite City RT 1V @07:19
11 Veli-Matti Raikkonen Granite City RT 3 @07:23
12 Phil Brown Equipé Velo Ecosse/Montpeliers E @07:31
13 Calum Wilkinson Thebicycleworks.com 2 @07:33
14 Paul McInally ek road club cyclelane 2 @07:59
15 Richard Garrett Edinburgh RC 3V @08:01
16 Lee Whitelaw Edinburgh RC 3 @08:07
17 Jack Woodward Unattached 2 @08:08
18 Michael Nicolson Glasgow Wheelers 3 same time
19 Euan Pope Glasgow Couriers – Bennett Deve 2 @08:17
20 Micky Mallen GS Metro 2 @09:07
21 Andrew Matheson Musselburgh Roads CC 3V @09:09
22 Richard Chapman Thebicycleworks.com 3 same time
23 Joe Wilson Sandy Wallace Cycles 2 @09:52
24 Andrew Fish pedalpower.org.uk/Endura Race T 3 @10:11
25 Derek Walker ek road club cyclelane 3 @10:13
26 Gordon Brockie Glade CC 3 same time
27 Steve McIntosh Granite City RT 2V same time
28 Lewis Oliphant Equipé Velo Ecosse/Montpeliers 2 same time
29 Gary Robson Dooleys Cycles 3 same time
30 Callum Gough onimpex rt bioracer museeuw 2V same time
31 Russell Bayliss GS Metro 3 @10:16
32 Martin Coopland Falkirk BC 3V same time
33 Ken Russell Edinburgh RC 3V same time
34 Randle Shenton Team Swift 3V @10:18
35 Stephen Russell ek road club cyclelane 3 same time
36 Gary McCrae pedalpower.org.uk/Endura Race T 3 same time
37 Barry McGurk Team Icarus 3 @10:30
38 Rab Wardell Sandy Wallace Cycles 2 @11:29
39 Magnus Davidson Squarewheels Cycles J @11:32
40 Kenneth Armstrong Ayr Roads CC / Harry Fairbairn 3 @11:36
41 Tom Worthington Glasgow Nightingale CC 3V same time
42 Calum McLean Stirling Bike Club J @12:12
43 Alan Thomson Glasgow Couriers – Bennett Deve 3 @12:30
44 James Fraser-Moodie pedalpower.org.uk/Endura Race T 1 @13:00
45 Barry Crumlish Glasgow Couriers – Bennett Deve 3 @13:34
Sprint King – Gary Hand
KOM – Paul Coats
1st – pedalpower.org.uk/Endura RT
2nd – Granite City RT
3rd – GS Metro
4th – Edinburgh RC
5th – Glasgow Couriers
6th – ek road club cyclelane
1st – JimCusick
2nd – David Lines
3rd – Tim Allan
1st – Veli-Matti Raikkonen
2nd – Richard Garrett
3rd – Lee Whitelaw
1st – Allister Watt
2nd – Andrew Matheson
3rd – Steve McIntosh
1st – Magnus Davidson
2nd – Calum McLean
1 Robert Kennedy Glasgow Nightingale CC 4 @01:55:11
2 Niall Aitken pedal power.org.uk/Endura Race 4 same time
3 Ian Wilcox Unattached 4 @2″
4 Graeme Neagle Glasgow Wheelers J same time
5 Douglas Young Stirling Bike Club J same time
6 Alasdair Easton Edinburgh RC 4 same time
7 Dave Henderson pedal power.org.uk/Endura Race 4 same time
8 Thomas Dyson Edinburgh RC 4 same time
9 James Mcpake Falkirk BC 4 same time
10 Oliver Fox pedal power.org.uk/Endura Race 4 same time
11 Ben Thompson Nevis Cycles Racing Team 4 same time
12 Lee Anderson East Kilbride Road Club 4 same time
13 Bob Soutter Peebles CC V50 same time
14 George Findlater Elgin CC V60 same time
15 Mark Finlay Edinburgh RC 4 same time
16 Edward Addis Stirling Bike Club 4 same time
17 Ross Spence Edinburgh RC 4 same time
18 Neil Pearson Dumfries CC 4 @7″
19 Paul French Unattached 4 same time
20 Stevie Crowther team leslie bike shop right mov 4 same time
21 Tom McInnes Spokes RT 4 same time
22 Alan Hay Stirling Bike Club V50 same time
23 Colin May Edinburgh RC 4 same time
24 Greig Walker Edinburgh RC 4 same time
25 Timothy Blathwayt Edinburgh RC 4 @14″
26 Kieran McCluskey Team Icarus 4 @30″
27 Andrew Brierley Spokes RT 4 @37″
28 John Williams Edinburgh RC 4 @02:12
29 Kristoffer Aksnes Glasgow Wheelers J @03:08
30 Martin Booth Unattached 4 03:38
31 Andy Strathdee Nevis Cycles Racing Team 4 @03:59
32 David Muir Fife cycling 2000 4 @04:03
33 Graeme Small East Kilbride Road Club 4 @04:05
34 Alastair McNicol Velo Ecosse J same time
35 Alex McAllister Ayr Roads CC V50 @04:06
36 Scot Bullivant Unattached 4 @04:15
37 Steven Robertson East Kilbride Road Club 4 @05:06
38 Calum MacNeill Glasgow Nightingale CC V50 @06:20
39 Gavin Mooney Edinburgh RC 4 @07:29
40 Jocky Johnstone Team Icarus V60 @07:33
41 David Lang Glasgow Wheelers V50 same time
42 Patrick Jean-Pierre Roux Edinburgh RC 4 same time
43 Frank Kennedy Johnstone Wheelers 4 same time
44 Malcolm Paterson Glasgow Nightingale CC 4 @07:37
45 Tom Ward Edinburgh RC 4 @09:14
46 Alan McLean Johnstone Wheelers 4 @09:19
47 Georges Avraam Edinburgh RC 4 @10:16
48 Oliver Young Edinburgh RC J @11:36
49 Sadiq Mir West Lothian Clarion 4 @12:15
50 Duncan Warick Deeside Thistle CC 4 @13:14
51 Claire Thomas Edinburgh RC W @14:09
52 Cameron Stewart Edinburgh RC 4 same time
53 Arvid Haubold Johnstone Wheelers 4 @15:07
54 Andrew Douglas pedal power.org.uk/Endura Race 4 @15:15
55 Oliver Brooks Edinburgh RC V50 @18:18
56 Duncan Thomson Johnstone Wheelers 4 same time
57 Joanne Merritt Edinburgh RC W same time
58 John Gemmell Ayr Roads CC V50 @18:20
59 Anne Ewing Edinburgh RC W same time
60 Michelle Jeffrey Edinburgh RC W @18:23
61 Brynley Davies Edinburgh RC 4 @22:40
62 Archie Johnstone Stirling Bike Club V50 @22:41
63 Louis McCusker Pedal Power Endura RT J @23:47
64 Rosemary Byde Edinburgh RC W @24:06
65 Gary MacFarlane pedal power.org.uk/Endura Race 4@ 24:50
66 Ross Clark Deeside Thistle CC 4 @26:03
67 Kenneth Anderson Hawick CC V60 @26:36
Sprint King – Lee Anderson
KOM – Ben Thompson
1st – pedalpower.org.uk/Endura RT
2nd – Edinburgh RC
3rd – Stirling BC
4th – Glasgow Wheelers
5th – ek road club cyclelane
6th – Glasgow Nightingale
7th – Johnstone Wheelers
1st – Claire Thomas
2nd – Joanne Merritt
3rd – Anne Ewing
1st – Douglas Young
2nd – Alastair McNicol
3rd – Oliver Young
1st – Bob Soutter
2nd – Alan Hay
3rd – Alex McAllister
1st – George Findlater
2nd – Jocky Johnstone
3rd – Kenneth Anderson