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The Scottish Road Race Championships 2008

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The Scottish Road Race Championships 2008. “Yeah, I’m happy to have won, but I’m not happy at having to go back to Yorkshire again – I just came from there, last night! And I’m sick of eating pies!”

The words of Plowman Craven professional Evan Oliphant after successfully defending the Scottish road race title on a deceptively tough course over 81 miles of the beautiful rolling Borders country around historic Hawick.

Oliphant kept his powder dry (copyright Dave Duffield) until late in the day and was just too quick for Pedal Power’s Gary Hand – the only man who could live with the Sea Otter winner when things got really serious, half way around the last lap.

Scottish veterans road race champion, John Kermode of Dundee Thistle Road Club took the bronze from Hand’s team mate, Scott Macrae and up and coming Glasgow Wheeler (Billy Bilsland and Robert Millar’s club) Michael Nicholson – the survivors of the five man final break of the day.

The Scottish Road Race Championships 2008
Evan wins comfortably.

Oliphant really had to win, he’s a full time professional in a predominantly amateur field, damned with faint praise if he wins and eternally damned if he doesn’t.

But his win was business-like and with no caveats, as silver medallist Hand said; “Evan did more than enough work coming into the finish, no complaints.”

If the organisers had cared to, all that would have been required to choose the winner before the race would have been to look at the rider’s legs – Oliphant’s tanned, sculpted calves, etched veins and slab-like thighs would have won, hands down before a pedal was turned!

The Scottish Road Race Championships 2008
Lots of water here!

The monsoon which had fallen for much of the morning had eased, by the time the 54 starters from 60 entries began to roll out of Hawick.

The Border’s town’s glory days – when fast flowing upland rivers powered fabric mills – are behind it, but the river alongside the start was certainly flowing wide and deep enough.

The Scottish Road Race Championships 2008
Rain threatened early doors.

The circuit was a compressed loop, out – wind assisted – on the smooth main road along the valley floor then back into the strengthening wind on the spine of a ridge.

The Scottish Road Race Championships 2008
Early action.

Off the main road, there were technical sections aplenty with snaps, corners, bad surfaces, tricky descents and a long drag which didn’t look hard – until the final couple of ascents of nine.

It was this drag which defined the race and where Hand and Macrae played the ‘one-two’ game with Oliphant on the last lap.

Oliphant responded to every jump and when he put in his own jump after countering a move by Hand, the race was as good as over.

The three behind didn’t have the strength or will to repond, albeit Macrae tried to get across to his team mate.

However, the look on his face told the story of legs that couldn’t handle what the head was telling them to do.

The Scottish Road Race Championships 2008
Evan deserved the win – he worked just as hard as anyone else.

Crashes took out a number of race favourites; Rob Wardell (Sandy Wallace) Paul Coats (Pedal Power) and all three Velo Ecosse riders – Ben Abrahams, Phil Brown and Stuart McGregor came down or were delayed by crashes.

Kermode was among a break of six which went clear on lap two but was reeled in by lap four.

The next four laps saw a race which ebbed and flowed but didn’t take on a decisive shape.

The winning break.
The winning break.

It wasn’t until