On a day of sunshine, wind and squals over 12 laps of a rolling circuit around Balfron, Evan Oliphant (Endura Racing) defended his Scottish road race championship in fine style; riding away from the day long break with two laps to go and opening a big gap over Gary Hand (Endura/Pedal Power) and Ross Creber (Cycle Premier/Metaltek) who also slipped the bunch to sprint it out for silver and bronze respectively.
With an 11 kilometre circuit, race watching was easy –
Race View # 1: we followed the race to get the lay of the land.
A glorious mix of conifers and deciduous trees; winding, rolling roads; some of the surfaces are a little rough but most of the pavement is good – the feed zone’s a tad nippit, though.
But 12 times through Balfron – nice work; there’ll be complaints from the sheep though, they’re big race fans.
# 2: parked up, a couple of miles out of Balfron; it’s windy with squalls blowing through – there are eight or nine away already, Oliphant, Lines, Creber, Hand – that could be it?
Michael Nicholson leads the chase at 30 seconds.
It’s over already for Callum Wilkinson and a couple of others.
Our prediction: 1) Oliphant, 2) Nicholson, 3) Hassan.
# 3: the gap is a minute, we make it nine – Arthur Doyle, Evan Oliphant, Gary Hand, Davie Lines, Ross Creber, Chris Thomson…
It’s looking even more like it’s all over for the peloton.
But Michael Nicholson and Robbie Hassan are behind, so maybe it’ll come back?
Time for a change of scenery, we drive against the race direction to the other side of the valley.
# 4: a minute 15, it looks more and more it looks like it’s a done deal.
There’s a ‘Spokes’ rider in the break – Tim Allan?
Gregor isn’t too chuffed that his boys have missed that too.
A cry comes from the bunch; ‘what’s the f***ing time!?‘
‘A minute plus,’ says us.
Across the valley we can see them – and the gap has gone to a minute 30 in the space of a mile or two.
# 5: as we wait for them, Graeme McGarrity ambles past…
One minute 40 – Gary Hand and Tim Allan are hurting up front.
Hassan has gone, a puncture?
The wind is getting up, just to add to the pain.
# 6: the feed station, John Anderson of the bicycleworks waits to feed Ali McNichol, who’s made the break and Dave Martin, who hasn’t – that should be ‘winning break’ because the gap is starting to yawn.
The break are still riding hard; Rob Wilkins is trying to bridge with a couple of others but it’s unlikely to happen.
Finlay Young has crashed out – no harm to him, but apparently his Giant has a broken fork; and Robbie Hassan is back on…
# 7: a big squall blows through the feed.
The break are still working well together; but behind the peloton has split.
A weary looking Endura leads round the corner, maybe 12 riders?
For the main bunch it’s all over.
# 8: we make a quick detour to the strip so Finlay can get his gear; ‘Stuart McGregor punctured and crashed, he took a few guys down, I managed to avoid it – but run into the back of someone and broke my forks.’
And we catch the break as it whistles in to Balfron; Arthur at the front; Alf Engers would shake his head – an 80 mile road race the weekend before the 10 champs ?
# 9: back round against the race to the valley road, the sun’s out again and the shadows of the clouds scurry across the Campsies.
The chasers are back out to two minutes, Robbie Hassan is there, so is Paul Coats – I don’t think they’ll make it.
Gordon Murdoch bridges across to the split – a good effort.
# 10: we move on again, back to the feed – Eddie Addis wants water.
We’ve missed the break, they flash past the van window.
And the split – Robs Wilkins and Hassan are off the front, two strong guys, maybe ?
We just make the feed, Eddie gets his bottle but the peloton is ‘battus‘ as they say in France.
# 11: we pass the lap marker board, they have three laps to go – a time or two we’ve seen them twice on the same lap.
The two Robs are back in the fold and the guys in the split aren’t going to make it up.
# 12: top of the climb.
Evan goes, Davie Lines and the rest scramble for his wheel – two laps to go, in that wind.
Ali McNichol has popped, he’ll have two laps to ride on his own in the wind if he wants to keep that top ten.
The chase group has splintered, it’s a survival game for them.
The peloton goes through the motions.
# 13: the finish line, second last time.
I think so, but the chasers aren’t just sitting watching him go.
Four more, Paul Coats is there and Robbie Hassan too but the bunch is coming up to them.
# 14: the finish line, the Campsies stand guard, there’s sunshine, a crowd and locals ‘hinging oot the windae’ – not much more you could ask for.
Well, maybe a Jupiler, a barrier to lean on – but this isn’t Sersekamp.
Paul Coats holds court just past the finish line – like a real Belgian kermesse king and all that’s left is to interview the medal winners.
“I haven’t race a lot this year with my university commitments, this is only my fourth race but I was well up for it and I’m happy to be on the podium.
“The move went really early; my plan was to follow but when I saw the composition of the break it looked like it would stick and I rode.
“I spoke to Evan before the start – we train together a lot – and agreed to help each other.
“When he went, I didn’t chase, he was super-strong.”
“‘The roads were tight, that’s why I went early, to keep out of trouble.
“But once we were away and I saw that Davie Lines was with me and the main players, like Evan and Arthur were there – I was happy to commit.
“Evan was strongest, I actually thought he’d gone way too early, I said; ‘we’ll leave him out there, if we can get him back there’s a chance we can win.’
“But there were guys who had started to think about second and third and he was gone.
“We were here to win but fair play to Evan, he was the strongest.”
“‘The move went early, on the first lap, I was last to get across, I passed Robbie Hassan and Michael Nicholson on the way across – as soon as I got up, I went to the front and nailed it, I didn’t want them to get up !
“Everyone worked to start with, then guys began to sit one – but that’s normal.
“I went on my own because it’s safer; I was going to wait ’til the last lap but I only rode that second last lap at 80% then fully committed on the last lap.
“I was doing 80 kph on that last lap, with the wind, spinning the 12 out.
“It was a good circuit, the wind made it very hard, the direction it was blowing kept changing.
“I’m off to the Tour Series races this week, then the Scottish ’10’ next week, then the Rydale, some TV crits, the Reservoir – and then the National rr.
“I’ve won on the Beaumont circuit before and been second and fifth – the day after the Scottish rr last year – so that’s my next target.”
And did we mention, that’s Scottish road race title number five for Mr. Oliphant.
Our congratulations and thanks go to the Vortex Team for organising a great race,
and to Ridley Bikes as the event main sponsors.
Scottish Road Race Championships 2011 – Result
1 Evan Oliphant Endura Racing Elite 03:27:09
2 Gary Hand Endura/Pedalpower Development Team 1st @01:07
3 Ross Creber Cyclepremier.com – Metaltek Elite
4 Alistair Robinson Team Leslie Bike Shop – Right Move Windows 1st @01:08
5 Tim Allan Spokes Racing Team 2nd
6 David Lines Endura/Pedalpower Development Team Elite
7 Arthur Doyle Dooley’s-Cycles.co.uk 2nd @01:23
8 Alan Thomson Glasgow Couriers 2nd @01:28
9 Peter Murdoch Team Cycle Lane 2nd @05:00
10 Alastair McNicol www.TheBicycleWorks.com 2nd
11 Robin Wilkins Equipe Velo Ecosse/Montpeliers 1st
12 Gordon Murdoch Team Cycle Lane 2nd 00:05:02
13 Robert Hassan Endura/Pedalpower Development Team 1st @06:48
14 Paul Coats Squadra Via Mazzini Racetool Bicycles 3rd
15 Craig Adams GJS Racing Team 2nd
16 Scott McCrossan Endura/Pedalpower Development Team 2nd
17 Stephen Russell Team Cycle Lane 2nd @07:05
18 Edward Addis 2nd
19 Paul Rennie Dooley’s-Cycles.co.uk 2nd
20 Matthew MacDonald www.TheBicycleWorks.com 2nd
21 Eddie Cowle Stirling Bike Club 3rd
22 Tommy Murray Glasgow Whls 2nd
23 Alister Watt Granite City RT 2nd
24 David Martin www.TheBicycleWorks.com 2nd
25 Veli-Matti Raikkonen Granite City RT 2nd
26 David Murdoch Team Cycle Lane 3rd
27 Andrew Matheson Musselburgh RCC 2nd
28 Ross Crook Edinburgh RC 2nd
29 Tom Fernie 2nd
30 Lewis Oliphant 3rd
31 John Kermode Spokes Racing Team 2nd
32 Lindsay Gordon www.TheBicycleWorks.com 3rd
33 Allan Clark Sandy Wallace Cycles 2nd
34 Jordan Stokes Endura/Pedalpower Development Team 3rd
35 Richard McDonald Stirling Bike Club 2nd
36 Gary McCrae Team Leslie Bike Shop – Right Move Windows 2nd
37 James McPake GJS Racing Team 2nd
38 Gerald Grant GJS Racing Team 3rd
39 Barry Crumlish Glasgow Couriers 3rd
40 Ian Brown Deeside Thistle CC 3rd
41 John McQuade GJS Racing Team 3rd
42 Euan Pope Glasgow Couriers 2nd
43 Mark Skilling Ayr Roads / Harry Fairbairn CC 3rd
44 Jon Clarke Glasgow Whls 3rd
45 Andrew Davies www.TheBicycleWorks.com 3rd @07:12
46 Philip Brown 3rd
47 Keith Laird Glasgow Couriers 3rd
48 Gareth Barnes Walkers Cycling Club 3rd @09:07
49 Craig Moffat Falkirk Bicycle Club 3rd @09:47
50 Neil Taylor Edinburgh RC 2nd @10:00
51 Franco Porco GJS Racing Team 3rd @10:07
52 Mark Baugh Stirling Bike Club 3rd @13:11