Sunday, July 25, 2021
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Gareth Montgomerie – Best Scot at Girvan

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In our Girvan interviews with Evan Oliphant, Gary Hand and James McCallum, we mistakenly referred to Callum Wilkinson as ‘best Scot at Girvan,’ — we got that one wrong! We thought we’d best set things to rights with the man who actually was, ‘best Scot at Girvan’ — 26 year-old Gareth Montgomerie of the Sigmasport-Specialized-Sportful Cycling Team.

Gareth Montgomerie
Gareth in the Girvan sunshine during the Saturday evening criterium.

An English team; where’s home?

“London, I stay with my girlfriend, she’s doing her Masters here.”

And are you a full time bike rider?

“No, I work around 30 hours per week in a bike shop.”

You’re background is off road, why go to the road?

“I ride for the Colnago mountain bike team, but there aren’t really the opportunities to progress off road that there are on the road.

“The UK teams aren’t really interested in you racing abroad because the magazines don’t give much coverage.

“As far as British Cycling goes, they seem to select on age and potential, rather than what results you’re getting — you have to be 16 or 17 to be considered.

“I was set to ride with a new team for this year, but it fell through, I contacted Brian Smith and he told me that Sigmasport were looking for a rider; I sent them a CV and got the ride.”

Does the move have an eye to the Commonwealth Games?

“That’s certainly in my mind, yes.”

Give us some off-road palmares.

“I won the British National Mountain Bike Series in 2008 — that’s the equivalent of the Premier Calendar, guys like Keen and Beckinsdale ride that.

“I’ve also had top 40 placings in World Cups, but like I said, sponsors tend to be more interested in the domestic scene.”

Gareth Montgomerie
Gareth is an accomplished mountainbike racer.

And road results?

“I don’t really have any; I haven’t ridden it much, although I did ride the last Commonwealth Games road race, but that was in a supporting role.

“Girvan was my first stage race in about three years but I’m looking forward to the Rutland Classic (England’s Paris-Roubaix).”

Girvan — stage one?

“I got in the early break and when I saw the make up of it – with Rapha well represented – I thought that we were away for the day. But nobody seemed willing to commit and we were caught.

” After we came back, I made a mistake; I should have sat closer to the front — when the winning break of seven went I missed it.”

The criterium?

“I made another mistake in that I started at the back and I had to dig deep all the way — it was just so fast.

“I lost the wheel with a lap to go and lost a little time, but it could have been much worse.”

Gareth Montgomerie
Learning about the road every time he races.

What about Stage three?

“I felt good, the Plowmans controlled it really well and it was over my local roads, so I knew the finish.

“I thought about an attack on the Glen Lee climb but I got cramp — I had just got my road bike a few days before and I don’t think the position is just right.

“I try to transfer the position directly from my mountain bike; I ride the same crank lengths for example, but it’s difficult because of the difference in the angles — mountain bikes are much more relaxed. I managed to stay with the front group, though — I was happy with that.”

And the last stage?

“I felt good again, we had two in the top 15 so the job of the team was to look after them and I was given my freedom.

“Plowman seemed to have it under control again; I was waiting for the Nick and Tairlaw to make a move. I was on Tom Murray’s (yellow jersey at the time) wheel on Tairlaw when he cracked and it took a big effort to get round him and back onto the wheels.

“The descent was really scary but I managed to get on the break of ten that decided the race. I made a mistake there too, there were three GC guys in the break; it was up to them to drive it, but I was thinking of my GC position, so I was riding hard too.

“With the benefit of hindsight, I should have done less, sat on and tried for the stage, but my radio wasn’t working so I didn’t know what was going on behind us — I’ll learn!”

You’ll be glad you missed the big pile up?

“I was just beside it, one of the Rapha guys went down beside me and his Condor flew over my head — that’s not a good thing to see! I heard that there was a Dura Ace front hub rolling around the road after it.”

Gareth Montgomerie
Gareth rides for one of the top off-road teams: Colnago.

What’s your main goal on the road?

“Sigma has given me a great opportunity, it’s a good set up — I can see that, even though I’ve only ridden one race with them. “Matt Stephens being in the team is such a help; he knows everyone, has a great ability to read a race and is someone to learn from.

“I’m not as young as I should be, starting a road career, but I want to see how far I can go — if I can turn pro then that’ll be great but if I don’t and I get the best out of myself, then that will be fine.”

We’ll try to keep an eye on Mr. Montgomerie; top ten in his first stage race for three years on a newly built bike — that’s called ‘potential.’

Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 45 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, team manager, and sponsor of several teams and clubs. He's also a respected and successful coach, and during the winter months can often be found working in the cabins at the Six Days. Ed remains a massive fan of the sport and couples his extensive contacts with an inexhaustable enthusiasm for the minutiae and the history of our sport.

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