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.