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The Scottish Power Renewables Girvan 3 – Day Stage Race

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“The Girvan” stage race, based in beautiful Ayrshire and Galloway and held over the Easter weekend, has the reputation of being one of the toughest races in Britain, and it certainly does deserve it.

This year the 39th edition is again being run over 3 days and 4 stages, with the 3 road stages taking the riders into wild and remote terrain, most likely in less than ideal weather, which has been deteriorating ominously during the week and with foul conditions including snow predicted to arrive at the weekend, together with over 100 of the UK’s top cyclists, it should be an interesting race…

Stage 1 : Stage 2 : Stage 3 : Stage 4

Stage 1 – 65 Miles, Saturday 22nd March, 2008

With a superb lead-out from Malcolm Elliot launching him across the line, Russ Downing (Pinarello RT) won today’s first stage of “The Girvan” ahead of his brother Dean (Rapha Condor Recycling), in a 4-up sprint with Evan Oliphant (Plowman Craven) and last year’s overall winner, Ian Wilkinson (S.I.S.), just ahead of a fractured bunch, which despite the high winds managed to average over 25mph today for the 65 miles.

Stage 1 winner, Russ Downing.
Stage 1 winner, Russ Downing.

The course today took the riders south away from Girvan up the first KoM prime on Byne Hill, then north east to Kirkmichael for two loops and two Hot Spot sprints, before retracing southwards and through Girvan and Hot Sprint #3, before another climb of Byne Hill for the second KoM, and back to the town for the finish.

Scottish Power Renewables Girvan 3 - Day Stage Race
Deano Downing.

A very animated stage saw several riders go clear but unable to build much of a lead in such hard conditions, and in addition the mix of teams was never quite right. With a handful of miles to go, the two Plowman Craven Simons, Gaywood and Richardson, had dropped Halfords Bikehut rider Tom Southam and were starting to think of which of them would win the stage, but with the Pinarello and Rapha squads driving the bunch along behind them, their maximum lead of around 50 seconds was never going to be enough, and they were reeled in within the last two miles, setting the scene for a bunch gallop in Victory Park.

Scottish Power Renewables Girvan 3 – Day Stage Race – Stage 1 Result
1. Russell Downing (Pinarello RT) in 2:34:57
2. Dean Downing (Rapha Condor recycling) @2″
3. Evan Oliphant (Plowman Craven) st.
4. Ian Wilkinson (SIS) st.

Carrick Gazette King of the Mountains
1. Gary Hand (PedalPower) 8
2. Simon Richardson (Plowman Craven) 5
3. Simon Gaywood (Plowman Craven) 4

Endura Hot Spot Sprints
1. Peter Williams (Pinarello RT) 7
2. Simon Richardson (Plowman Craven) 4
3. James McCallum (Plowman Craven) 4

Team Competition
1. Rapha Condor recycling
2. Plowman Craven @3″
3. Pinarello RT @4″

Stage 2 – 16.5 Miles, Saturday 22nd March, 2008

The 2nd stage of “The Girvan” took place this evening with a Criterium around Victory Park. Russell Downing, Pinarello RT bagged his second stage win of this year’s race to extend his race lead.

With the roads closed the remaining riders set off for the 15 laps which would see them cover 16.5 miles on a cold Ayrshire evening. We spoke to Richard Chapman to find out how the race developed. After puncturing this morning and spending the rest of the stage chasing, surely tonight had to get better.

Phil briefs his troops.
Phil briefs his troops.

On lap four, however the field split in two with riders being dispatched out the back during whole stage, many were later lapped. Richard, caught in the second group, tried to jump over to the first group on his own but a stiff head wind on the back of the course and his efforts earlier in the day put paid to that idea.

Following Russell Downing accross the line were Simon Gaywood (Plowman Craven) and Graham Briggs (Rapha Condor) finishing in under 39 minutes.

Scottish Power Renewables Girvan 3 - Day Stage Race
James MacCallum.

On the home front,among the Scots in the lead group were Evan Oliphant, who finished fifth – keeping him in contention after his third place earlier in the day, Jack Woodward, James MacCallum and Gary Hand – currently resplendent in the KOM jersey.

Scottish Power Renewables Girvan 3 - Day Stage Race
Malcolm Elliot and Russ Downing before the start.

However an air of animosity is now hanging over the event with some riders behaviour on the road leaving a lot to be desired, as well as others voicing their grievances after the stage finishes the heat is certainly on for the remainder of the race. VeloVeritas understands that the rivalry between the ‘big’ teams has taken a downward shift in mood, and in an effort to resolve this some of the managers were going to “have words” tonight.

So, still all to fight for, and with the top twenty still within thirty-odd seconds of the lead and the prospect of a home win still possible, join us tomorrow to see how the longest stage of this years race turns out. Given tonight’s weather forecast it may be a very hard day in the saddle!

Scottish Power Renewables Girvan 3 – Day Stage Race – Stage 2 Result
1. Russ Downing (Pinarello RT) in 38m 54s
2. Simon Gaywood (Plowman Craven RT) @ st
3. Graham Briggs (Rapha Condor Recycling) @ st

Overall Classification
1. Russ Downing (Pinarello RT) in 3h 13m 26s
2. Dean Downing (Rapha Condor Recycling) @ 18s
3. Evan Oliphant (Plowman Craven RT) @ 23s

Carrick