On a day more suited to a November cyclo-cross, than a ‘summer’ road race, those Pedal Power boys did it again; Gary Hand topped and tailed the Super Six in taking the East of Scotland Championship at East Saltoun, having won the first round — also in East Lothian — back in the spring, whilst series leader, Gordon Murdoch built upon an already unassailable points total, in second spot.
The day was a horror; windy, wet and cold — the car computer said 10 degrees at one point — with the gnarly road surface covered in pieces of battered branches and foliage.
The first time up the prime hill, Pedal Power were already at the front, along with a man who thrives on the cold and wet, 100 mile champion, Jim Cusick (Glasgow Couriers).
At the tail of the field, ‘three’ wasn’t the magic number as 3, Trevor Blackburn (East Kilbride), 13, James Daly (Dooleys) and 33 Mark Millington (bicycleworks) were already all out of contention, for one reason or another.
Lap two, and at least the rain had stopped — Gary Hand swerved across the tar to take the prime and cement his lead in the overall series King of the Mountains classification.
Second across the line was Velo Ecosse man Stuart MacGregor, reprising his position in the British veterans’ road race championship for his 40 — 44 age group, the day before in Pontefract.
Cracks were starting to appear, but there was still a long way to go for breakaway attempts, especially with the trees swaying manically in the cold wind.
Matt Cronshaw (Kinesis) and Callum Wilkinson (bicycleworks) thought differently though, and the third time up the prime, they were clear, looking comfortable with a minute in their jersey pockets.
The ever vigilant Hand wasn’t letting them get too far though and he was active at the head of affairs behind.
Jim Cusick was enjoying the cold too, and so was Mickey Mallen (GS Metro) thriving on that real ale from the Harbour Bar in his new home of Kirkcaldy (looks like I left Kirkcaldy for Porty just in time!).
The last lap of the big circuit saw the race in its crucial form; Cronshaw and Wilkinson, still looking composed, but with a group of five behind — Hand and team mate David Lines, Ashley Finn (unattached), Alan Thomson (Glasgow Couriers) plus the hardy Cusick.
The small circuit, based around East Saltoun took around ten minutes to complete and by the time the two escapees crossed the line there for the first time, their lead was down to seconds and the temperature was down to ten degrees.
With three to go it was still the aggressive and stylish Cronshaw at the front, this time with Cusick — who else?
My fellow Porty Pundit, Jim Leslie agreed with me that this looked like the one. We were a bit puzzled as to why the chasers, particularly Hand and Lines were so relaxed, freewheeling in fact — and then we saw the reason.
Gordon Murdoch was on his way across; “like a big train!” as Hand would say later — those race radios sure are handy! Our prediction of a Cronshaw or Cusick win was suddenly looking shaky.
With two to go, Cronshaw was now flying solo, Cusick had gone and was absorbed by the chasers on the drag up from the finish line.
The way Cronshaw was riding, it looked like the Pedal Powers would have to get down to some serious TTT training.
As a young lady whacked at the farmers gate adjacent to the finish with a spanner, to simulate the bell, there were three clear, Cronshaw, Hand and Murdoch — barring disaster the Tartan Lads would win.
And so it proved, doing so in some style, having left Cronshaw for dead on the last circuit, the Englishman held out for third however as we sought out Gary and Gordon for the umpteenth time this year…
“Yes, it’s my second win of the series; I won the first one at Gifford.
The first objective today was to make sure of the King of the Mountains overall, so we kept it together until the second time up the prime, when the points were on offer — I took it, so that meant I couldn’t be beaten in the series.
“Our other objective today was to try and get Paul Coates, David Lines or Gary Macrae into a winning position; they’ve all worked so hard for the team this year, but we couldn’t get it to work out that way.
“When Callum (Wilkinson) and Matt (Cronshaw) were away, we weren’t concerned, they were dangling out there and we knew we could get them back.”
“It was pandemonium at the start with the narrow roads and the wet. I decided to go across to Gary’s group the third time up the prime hill, but just as I attacked I had a rear wheel puncture.
“It took me about five miles to get back on, I just sat on and recovered for a bit after that. On the finish circuit I knew that if you were strong there wouldn’t be a problem in crossing a one-and-a-half minute gap so I jumped and got across.
“On the second last lap I attacked again and only Gary was strong enough to come with me.”
“It was an interesting day!
“There was a long way to go when we went away, but we didn’t fully commit until we had 30 seconds, I felt good and Callum was very strong.
“The reason I went away again with Jim Cusick was to try and set things up for my mate Ashley Finn, I thought that I might as well give it a try. When the two Pedal Power guys caught me, I had nothing left and just had to let them go. It was a tough race in far from ideal conditions.”
Yep, that about sums it up!
1 Gary Hand pedalpower.org.uk / Endura RT 03:12:30
2 Gordon Murdoch pedalpower.org.uk / ENDURA RT same time
3 Mtthew Cronshaw Kinesis UK @51 secs
4 Ashley Finn @01:12
5 Callum Wilkinson Bicycleworks same time
6 Jamie Henderson Spokes RT @01:38
7 Aidan McIlroy Edinburgh RC – The Bicycleworks same time (ESCA Champion)
8 Chris Thomson VC Astar same time
9 David Robertson Active Bikes same time
10 Stephen Russell East Kilbride RC same time
11 Ross Crook Edinburgh RC – The Bicycleworks same time
12 Neil Cameron Falkirk BC same time
13 Ian Taylor MTS cyclesport/inkland same time
14 Damien Smith Wheelbase same time
15 Graham McGarrity Dooleys RT same time
16 Liam Cowie Aberdeen Wheelers J same time
17 Alister Watt Granite City RT V same time
18 Scott Macrae pedalpower.org.uk / ENDURA RT same time
19 James Cusick Glasgow Couriers – DB Developme same time
20 Tom Anderson Falkirk BC same time
21 Andrew Matheson Musselburgh Roads CC same time
22 Paul McInally East Kilbride RC same time
23 Gary McCrae pedalpower.org.uk / ENDURA RT same time
24 David Lines pedalpower.org.uk / ENDURA RT same time
25 Stuart Macgregor Velo Ecosse same time
26 Alistair Robinson Keswick Bikes V @01:47
27 Barry Crumlish Glasgow Couriers / D.B.Developm same time
28 Alan Thomson Glasgow Couriers / DB Developments @01:49
29 Michael Nicolson Glasgow Wheelers @01:50
30 Robert Hassan Rockhard Racing J same time
31 Paul Coats pedalpower.org.uk / ENDURA RT same time
32 Keith Smith Glasgow Wheelers @01:56
33 Micky Mallen GS Metro @09:43
34 Tim Blathwayt Edinburgh RC @17:09
35 Jason Roberts Glasgow Nightingale CC @19:05
36 James Daly Johnstone Wheelers @27.30
37 Graeme Walsh Sandy Wallace Cycles @28.05
1 Niall Aitken pedalpower.org.uk / ENDURA RT 01:54:10
2 Colin May Edinburgh RC same time
3 James Mcpake Falkirk BC same time
4 Robin Wilkins SBC / Wheels of Callander same time
5 Brendan Milliken pedalpower.org.uk / ENDURA RT same time
6 Eddie Addis Stirling Bike Club same time
7 Stevie Crowther Team Leslie Bikshop -Right Move same time
8 Robert Kennedy Glasgow Nightingale CC same time
9 Jonathan Powell Gosforth same time
10 Michael Bossard Nevis Cycles RT same time
11 Alan McLean Johnstone Wheelers CC same time
12 Bruce Fullerton Falkirk BC same time
13 Douglas Young Stirling BC/ Wheels of Callander Junior same time
14 36 Alastair McNicol Velo Ecosse Junior @5
15 Malcolm Paterson Glasgow Nightingale CC same time
16 Alex McAllister Ayr Roads CC/Harry Fairbairn BM V50+ same time
17 Mark Skilling Ayr Roads CC/Harry Fairbairn BM same time
18 ?? Spokes RT same time
19 Chris Bown Dunfermline CC same time
20 Scot Bullivant same time
21 Graeme Neagle Glasgow Wheelers same time
22 Paul French same time
23 Graeme Small East Kilbride RC same time
24 Barry Cranstoun East Kilbride RC same time
25 Jamie Kennedy Glasgow Couriers – DB Developme same time
26 Kristoff Aksnes Glasgow Wheelers same time
27 Stephen McQueen Falkirk BC same time
28 Stephen Dickson Falkirk BC same time
29 Mark Ansell Edinburgh RC – The Bicycleworks same time
30 Mott Karl Thebicycleworks.com @14
31 Georges Avraam Edinburgh RC – The Bicycleworks same time
32 Andrew Hood Team Leslie Bikshop -Right Move Junior @17
33 Graham Barclay Team Leslie BikeShop/Right Move V50+ @47
34 Andy Douglas pedalpower.org.uk / ENDURA RT @02:01
35 Kieran McCluskey Team Icarus @02:13
36 Gordon Plenderleith @02:37
37 Sharon Doyle Glasgow Ivy CC Woman same time
38 Paul Murray Glasgow United @03:48
39 Andrew Kilpatrick Fife cycling 2000 @05:08
40 Chris Lilley @05:20
41 Dougal John Allan Edinburgh RC – The Bicycleworks @05:40
42 Miguel Ciriza Edinburgh RC @06:22
43 Andrew Duncan Spokes RT 28:14:00
44 Gavin Mooney Edinburgh RC – The Bicycleworks same time
45 Mark Finlay Edinburgh RC @28:16:00
46 John Milligan Dundee Wheelers CC same time
47 Neil Crawford Dundee Thistle RC @28:23:00
48 Frank Kennedy Johnstone Wheelers same time
49 Rosemary Byde Edinburgh RC same time
50 Nicholas Stormonth Musselburgh Roads CC same time