We’re off to the first edition of the Tour Doon Hame. I grew up with ‘The Girvan’ – in fact, it took me a long time to stop myself from referring to it as the ‘Grant’s of Girvan.’ Ronnie Boa won it way back when; Henk Lubberding won a stage, Sean Yates, Dave Lloyd, Tony Doyle, all famous names to associate with Girvan.
And of course, there was the Saturday night run down to watch the criterium; or the Monday pilgrimage to watch the last stage.
It takes a bit of getting used to the fact that there’s no view of Ailsa Craig through the morning mist.
But sport moves on and money talks – if you have pros in the race, then you need cash.
The prize list at Dumfries was exceptional, £6,555 to be exact – and good money generally means good racing.
We left Edinburgh early, to get to sodden Dumfries for 10:00 am at the latest. We wanted to have a few words with Endura’s Evan Oliphant and I wanted to see Raleigh’s Dan Fleeman and Vik and I both wanted to meet up with Endura’s New Zealand champ, Jack Bauer.
It wasn’t a morning for chatting though and we spent a lot of the count down sheltering under the MotorPoint team’s canopy.
Keith Lambert gave us his Race Manual, which leads me into moan number one…
For the four and a half years we’ve had our little website, we’ve ‘done our bit‘ on Girvan coverage – it would have been nice to have a race manual drop through one of our letter boxes, a few days before the race.
‘The details are all on the website‘ I hear you say; but it would still have been nice if someone had thought about us.
And on the themes of weather and change; if there’s a change of venues, parcours and names then why not change the dates too? – make it the May Bank Holiday and give yourself half a chance of decent weather.
We decided to follow the race and cut across country where we could to catch sight of it as many times as possible.
Numbers 142 and 51 were off the back within five miles – maybe they punctured; the roads were in a bad way after a grim winter, not helped by the torrential rain washing flints and grit into the tarmac.
One of the first to call it a day was big hitter sprinter [and Bob’s fellow TV pundit], Tony Gibb.
We took our first Ordnance Survey map inspired detour to try and head them off at the pass, but just missed them.
The second one was more successful and we only had to wait a few minutes at ‘God know’s where’ and there they were – with Big Bob Hayles just off the front of a drookit peloton.
The third detour didn’t work out either, but we were in time to see newly crowned world omnium champion, Ed Clancy (Motor Point) resist the offer to jump in the team car and decide to ‘get the miles in’ – if I was a new world champ, I’d be pretty chilled too.
It seemed as if we’d been in the car for hours but it was actually only half distance when we caught up with the bunch to be greeted with glaring brake lights, crashes, punctures, motor pacing – Dan was on the deck, Malc Elliot had punctured; it was generally wild so we decided to keep well out of the way.