Stirling BC's Battle of the Braes
Location: Callander, Scotland
Event: 20 August 2011
Report: Snowdon Sports
Neil Taylor (Edinburgh Road Club) won the Battle of the Braes Road Race staged at Callander by Stirling Bike Club on Saturday.
As last year's inaugural event, the 57-mile race took in four ascents of the Braes of Greenock, but this time the finish had been moved to the top of the Braes rather than the mini Braes near Thornhill, meaning only the strong would be in with a chance of victory.
A break of five riders escaped away early and quickly established a lead of around 20 seconds as the hurtled along the Lake of Menteith road. Two Endura-Pedal Power riders, Jordan Stokes and Dougie Young, were joined by Jason Roberts (Glasgow Wheelers), Craig Holmes (Glasgow Nightingale) and Lindsay Gordon (thebicycleworks.com).
They led during the first long loop around Port of Menteith, Arnprior and Thornhill, and began the first of three and a half shorter laps with some 30 seconds advantage.
These short laps took in four ascents of the Braes of Greenock and mini Braes and it would be a stiff test to stay out front to the finish.
Edinburgh Road Club's Neil Taylor Holds on for victory in the Battle of the Braes in Scotland.
The first time up the mini Braes saw points on offer for the King of the Mountains competition, but after the first climb up the Braes of Greenock the break was already being reeled in.
At this early stage several riders were dropped as the tough course and high pace - which was harder than in 2010 - proved too much.
The second time up the Braes of Greenock saw more King Of The Mountains points available, and it was Veli-Matti Raikkonen (Granite City RT) who took the four points.
But with the KoM prime coming only two thirds of the way up the climb, other riders put the hammer down to try to establish a split and Neil Taylor of Edinburgh RC got an advantage.
At the summit he was joined by the promoting club's Richard MacDonald, and the pair began to work together. They stayed in front for a further lap, establishing a lead of 1-25, and at the third prime, Taylor took the four points to secure the overall KoM prize.
As the leading pair began the fourth and final climb, MacDonald was running out of gas and urged his breakaway companion to go for the win with the gap down to just 25 seconds.
The Edinburgh rider - who has recently returned from a stay in the Pyrenees where he had secured a start in a local race up Superbagnères - hoped that this Hors Categorie climbing would pay off in the hills of Stirlingshire.
Behind him, 2010 winner Ali McNicol (thebicycleworks.com) attacked the chasers, stringing out the remainder of the bunch. But he couldn't maintain a gap and bridge to the leader.
MacDonald was caught, but ahead Neil Taylor held on for victory by just a few seconds while Tom MacDonald (Lomond Roads CC) took second and Raikkonen completed the podium.
Battle of the Braes winner Neil Taylor (centre) with Eddie Cowle, left, and Jim Prentice, right.
1 Neil Taylor (Edinburgh Road Club) 2:25:04
2 Tom McDonald (Lomond Roads CC)
3 Veli-Matti Raikkonen (Granite City RT)
4 Tim Blathwayt (VC Edinburgh)
5 Andrew Whitehall (Glasgow Wheelers)
6 Scott McCrossan (Endura-Pedal Power)
7 Alastair McNicol (thebicycleworks.com)
8 Roman Bardzik (Granite City RT)
9 Tommy Murray (Glasgow Wheelers)
10 Jordan Stokes (Endura-Pedal Power)
King of the Mountains: Neil Taylor (Edinburgh RC).