What can you say about the man?
In the break ALL day on this wet, windy, tough, gnarly day – major respect to the man on his second Championship win on Scottish roads.
Respect too for Sam Watson, u23 Champion to add to his Gent-Wevelgem win.
A great race on a good course, not much more you can ask for – well, perhaps some sunshine?
If Martin hadn’t given me a cosy new VeloVeritas hoodie as a birthday present, I’m not sure I’d have made it through the day.
Thursday spoiled us, sunshine, heat, a perfect summer day – but that was for the ‘soft testers’ – 44 K?
The British Road Champs are over 200 K and should be conducted in hardcore man’s weather – cold, wind, rain.
And we’ve got all three.
It didn’t stop us from bike ‘skeking’ though. First up was the Trinity camp where former top Scottish short distance tester Gary Robson was on duty; he showed us their Specialized in new ‘trick’ livery which reminded me a little of ‘crackle’ finish from days gone by.
The jury is out on the pink seatposts though.
In common with many of the pro teams they’ve gone tubeless, running them at 60 psi.
Tudor Pro Cycling’s, Scot, Sean Flynn’s BMC sported white ‘Cancellara Special’ Schwalbe rubber – cool; but VeloVeritas mentor and soothsayer Vik would have a seizure if he saw them; ‘tyres should only ever be black!’
Time to head.
Big Lap 1/4
We parked up at the corner where they’ll turn right to describe the eight small circuits after the four big ones – it’s compatto as the rain eases but the wind howls.
We head across the ‘wee’ circuit to catch the race again on the big circuit where Nicholas Cooper [Sweden Cycling Academy] has attacked – and what’s this?
Cav bridging over – wow!
Another highlight is meeting former Scottish Hill Climb and super vet, Tommy Clark – looking as young and as fresh as ever, watching the race with his – and our – old pal, ex-soigneur Gordon Johnston.
Big Lap 2/4
Confession time, we missed lap two due to a visit to Tesco for ‘race food’.
Big Lap 3/4
By time we got back to the circuit there was a break of four clear but not by much: Cav, freshly crowned TT Champion Ethan Hayter, Damien Clayton [WiV SunGod] and Home Boy, John Archibald.
Over on the other side of the circuit the break has swollen to nine with Big Ben Turner in there for INEOS too – dangerous…
Lewis Askey thinks the same and is bridging.
Big Lap 4/4
The break has swollen to 11 now with Jake Stewart [Groupama FDJ] there, so too are Trinity boys, Sam Culverwell and Max Walker, it’s hard to positively ID all of the group due to their wearing rain capes which cover their numbers.
Their gap is only seconds though, with Chris Lawless [Total Direct Energie] leading the chase.
Wee Lap 1/8
We’ve repaired to the climb on the wee circuit which they pick up after four laps of the big one.
Dave’s watching on TV back in Glenrothes, unable to join us thanks to Mr. Covid, he tells us that the gap to the break is growing, it had looked to us like the end was nigh but…
Another update from Dave, a chase group has bridged up.
Here they come – Turner, Askey, Cav, Culverwell are clear with John Archibald just off the back – then a big group at eight seconds, maybe 16 strong?
In the strung out peloton, reigning champion Ben Swift isn’t looking at all comfortable.
Wee Lap 2/8
The four are still clear, Turner, Askey, Cav and Culverwell; the group of 18 has split with seven lead by Ben Turner, marked by Jake Stewart at around 30 seconds, then the other 11 chasing – with the peloton of 70 at a minute-plus.
Calum Johnston looks comfortable in the peloton if a little too far back for our liking.
Wee Lap 3/8
The break is 13 strong now with a lead of a minute plus – former champion, Connor Swift [Arkea] is there, so too is Owain Doull [EF] and Scott Thwaites [Alpecin-Fenix] along with aforementioned Hayter, Cav, Turner, Askey, Culverwell, Stewart.
It’s the winner.
Wee Lap 4/8
Hayter is solo, wow!
A bold move in this wind; Vik later phone me later to ask what Hayter was playing at, wasting his strength like that?
Wee Lap 5/8
The break now has almost two minutes on a split peloton with the little groups in between, Oscar Onley is in one.
There’s a tired group of six @ 2:30 with Olympic Omnium Champion, Matt Walls [Bora] and Ethan Vernon [QuickStep] in there.
The Mark Stewart lead peloton is @ 3:18 as the wind continues to bend the trees.
Wee Lap 6/8
And now it’s Turner leading from Sam Watson, Alex Richardson [Le Col], Matt Bostock and Cav.
Connor Swift, Lewis Askey, Owain Doull and Scott Thwaites, Ethan Hayter chase with John Archibald slipping off.
It’s carnage behind, the peloton a wind-battered mess.
Wee Lap 7/8
‘Peloton @ 4:10’ says the blackboard man; it’s ‘green bottles hanging on a wall’ up front as Bostock pops, leaving Richardson, Watson, Turner and … Cav.
Although we’d learn later the reason for the Criterium Champion’s detachment was that he touched a wheel and came down – a pity, the man was riding well.
Bostock slides back to meet the chasers at around 40 seconds – Askey, Thwaites, Doull, Swift …
Sam Culverwell has ridden well today but the distance has taken a toll and he’s slipping back now.
Wee Lap 8/8
Turner throws the dice one more time, Watson chases with Cav and Richardson on his wheel, death or glory racing.
The fire is out of the chasers, they look tired, particularly Hayter.
Thwaites has popped out of this group but Ben Swift is attacking the group he’s in – one wonders why?
Our fellow roadside spectator for the day, former grass and board track protagonist, Darren Howitt is streaming the race to his smart phone and helping to ID riders as they pass.
Turner has popped now, it’s going to be a three-up sprint; there’s only one man going to win that contest – one of the fastest sprinters in the history of the sport.
Mark Cavendish MBE [QuickStep Alpha Vinyl] British Elite Road Race Champion 2022.
Love him or hate him, you have respect him, CHAPEAU Cav!