Endura Racing Team’s Gary Hand topped a near perfect day for the Scottish UCI Continental squad with a solo win in the second round of the Super Six Series – the Duncan MacGregor Memorial Road Race over 80 miles around the “Rigging of Fife.”
Team mates Gordon Murdoch and Duncan Urquhart took second and fourth respectively, to make it a quality day for the men in red and white.
Spoiling the party just a little was Rapha-Condor’s Matt Cronshaw, who, despite a severe working-over from the winners, grabbed third place.
VeloVeritas had planned to catch the race for the first time on Largo Law, however, guest photographer for the day, Bethany, decided that her cheese, ham and onion pasty had to be micro-waved.
This meant that our first look at the race was from outside the sandwich shop at Lundin Links – early break specialists, Paul Coats (Squadra Via Manzini-Race Tool) and Endura’s Urquhart were already on the attack.
Up at Moonzie, it was still Endura at the head of affairs as Hand and Callum Wilkinson battled the stiffening westerly, ten seconds ahead of Cronshaw, leading a group of six and already on the defensive.
Two groups of around a dozen passed with a handful of seconds between them, but for the bunch, more than a minute back, it was over already.
On the second ascent of Largo Law it was Wilkinson; still 12 seconds clear of Cronshaw’s team mate, Ben Greenwood, but right behind the man in black was Endura’s David Lines.
It was clear that there would be no repeat of Super Six number one, where Endura missed the boat.
West of Craigrothie on lap two, it was Urquhart who had picked up the batten as he plugged into the wind; Colin Humphrey (Sports Cover) was trying to bridge, but had Murdoch glued to his wheel.
Cronshaw was in pursuit but another Endura – David Lines – was leading the group behind him.
The race was now between some 20 riders; the bunch was history.
The third time up the Law saw the definitive move of the race consolidate as Urquhart, Murdoch, Hand, Humphrey and Cronshaw lead Lines by some 45 seconds.
On the small circuit off the main one from Ceres, it was Urquhart stalling at the front to let Lines get across and the Army man looked like a winner to us.
However, it was Hand who finished alone from Murdoch on the quiet finishing straight behind Lundin Links, with more daylight back to an understandably frustrated Cronshaw.
Urquhart made it three out of four; in a situation like this, the big team is damned if it wins and damned if it doesn’t – but it’s always better to win!
Gary Hand was quick to praise his squad;
“We really wanted to win today, there were eight of us, so we had no excuse not to. But having said that, the team all did their job very well. Cronshaw was strong, he countered all of our moves.
“I actually cramped up on one of the last drags, but it free-ed off and I got my second wind. When I attacked, I didn’t think that it was going to be the winning move, it was to force Cronshaw to chase. I’m happy with my form, I’ve started later this year, I want to try and peak for the British.
“So far, I haven’t done any intervals, juts base work, so I’m very happy with how I’m going.”
Gordon Murdoch spoke to Martin;
“That was great. A great result for the team, and the end of a good week for me too- it’s taken me a while to get my position sorted on the new bike, cleat positioning and so on, and now I feel fantastic on the bike.
“We wanted to dictate the race today, make sure we got in all the moves and control things – (laughing) we can’t have the English guys coming up here and having it all their own way anymore!
Yeah, we worked Matt over a little, but it took some doing – he was very strong today. We decided to start attacking him from 20 miles out, to make sure his sprint was taken down, Gary actually had cramp, but fought his way back on with about four miles to go, caught us and kept his momentum up, sweeping straight by us. To be fair, Matt worked hard to try to bring him back, and he’s done a good ride to get 3rd, but we weren’t going to have any other result today. Very happy.”
Matt Cronshaw was philosophical about the game that was played on him;
“It was always gonna happen, I was trying to shut them down as quickly as possible so they wouldn’t get a gap but I was getting no help at all.
“I’m enjoying being with Rapha-Condor, it’s a great set up; John Herety has treated me really well.I did the two squad training camps in Malaga, which were really good for my form, but didn’t go to the races in South Africa.
Girvan? No, I’m going to the Tour of the North, in Ireland.”
Round Two to Endura, then.
With Girvan next and all the English big hitters heading for Ayrshire, we’ll see you there.