A report from the Women's Convoy.
Sunday the 18th May was the date for the 2014 Scottish National Road Race Championships, held in Alford for the second year in succession. The sun was peeking through the clouds as the riders gathered at the Alford Community Centre for the Men’s 136km at 11am and Women’s 85km race due off at 11.15am.
The course was set over two loops, one a 53km route from Alford up to Insch, over to Kennethmont and then back down the A97 to Alford, the other loop a smaller 30km course which wound its way through Auchleven and then across for an ascent of the notorious Suie, a 2.1km climb with an average gradient of 8.2% and at parts nearly reaching 20%.
With a fairly strong breeze from the South blowing the riders away from the start, a reduced field of 45 riders set off at 11am for their race. From here I had to rely on what I have heard, since once they were away I didn’t see them until the finish.
Once the briefing for the small ladies field (unfortunately only 13 riders this year!) had completed, we also got underway at exactly 11.16am. Pulling away from the race HQ, we entered the neutralised zone, a few miles of road before we entered the circuit and the race was able to commence. The flag was pulled in at 11.40 and the race was on. The first few kilometres of racing were fairly steady, as the riders tested their legs before the first effort of the day, an ascent of the Brindie. The group stayed together for the majority of the climb, but it was on the descent, a long sweeping road where speeds reached at least 80kph, that a few gaps were made.
As the race continued over the rolling road up to Insch and beyond, the pace stayed fairly steady, but soon the group was reduced to eight, as a few digs off the front by Starley Primal Pro Cycling riders Eileen Roe and Jennifer Taylor. Soon after the road turned back towards Alford for the first time, a duo of Chloe Fraser and Rebecca Nixon escaped from the other six, but they never got more than 20 seconds clear, and the chasers were never worried, since they were always still just in sight.
Just after the start of the second small loop, at the foot of the Brindie for the second time, the eight were back together, but not for long, as it was halfway up the climb that Jane Barr (Velocity 44) made her move. Cresting the hill she had a small gap of less than five seconds on the bunch, but on the descent and the following 10km she began to pull out a sizeable advantage.
When the group turned onto the Suie Road, Barr now had almost thirty seconds, yet as the climb began she came back into sight, as the riders slowly fought their way up the steep gradient. Roe and Taylor were quickly shed out of the remaining group as the chasers became three, with Gabriella Nordin (Pedal Power RT) leading Julie Erskine (Velosport Pasta-Montegrappa) and Genevieve Whitson (WV Avanti).
At the summit, Barr still held the best part of thirty seconds over the chasing trio, and from here, the win was never really in doubt as she soloed her way down to Alford and a fine victory. Following behind, the trio were still closely together, with one sure to be disappointed, with three riders not going to fit on the remaining two podium places. With 150m to go, Erskine opened up her sprint from the front, and despite a brave effort from the other two, they were unable to come around here, with Whitson just pipping Nordin on the line for what was still a fantastic fourth place.
The rest of the field came over the line individually a wee bit back, with Ashleigh Fraser (Deeside Thistle) who in 10th place was the first junior, and thus Junior Women’s RR Champion for 2014.
Evan Oliphant crossing the line to take his sixth title
Once the last rider had crossed the line, the excitement and the crowd began to grow again, as radio traffic increased with the Men’s race reaching its climax, with news of an attack by Evan Oliphant (Team Raleigh) filtering across the airwaves. Cresting the Suie alone, he descended like a stone, and held a small gap to a pair of chasers, finishing eight seconds ahead of James McCallum (NFTO) and Steve Lawley (The Rigmar Racers). It was Oliphant’s sixth National Championship win, and a good show of form as the Commonwealth Games approach.
The clouds had disappeared as the race wore on, and it ended up an extremely nice day for a bike race. A great day was had by all, and big thanks go to the organisers at promoting club Velocity 44.
Scottish Road Champions for 2014, Jane Barr, Evan Oliphant and Ashleigh Fraser.
|2||28||James||McCallum||NFTO (UCI Team)||Elite||8|
|3||21||Steven||Lawley||The Rigmar Racers||1st||st|
|4||43||Gavin||Shuttleworth||Speg - Project 51||2nd||11|
|5||31||Richard||McDonald||Equipe Velo Ecosse/Montpeliers||2nd||50|
|7||1||Craig||Adams||Leslie Bike Shop/Bikers Boutiqu||1st||st|
|8||37||Veli-Matti||Raikkonen||Granite City RT||2nd||st|
|9||45||Bradley||Stokes||Pedal Power RT||2nd||st|
|10||40||Kenneth||Riddle||Moray Firth Cycling Club||2nd||st|
|11||2||David||Anderson||Granite City RT||2nd||st|
|12||46||Philip||Trodden||The Rigmar Racers||2nd||02:28|
|13||34||Lewis||Oliphant||Velo Club Edinburgh||2nd||02:57|
|14||39||Jack||Richards||Deeside Thistle CC||2nd||03:05|
|15||22||David||Lines||Starley Primal Pro Cycling||1st||03:08|
|17||38||David||Reed||Deeside Thistle CC||3rd||st|
|18||30||Scott||McCrossan||Paisley Velo Race Team||Elite||03:55|
|20||20||Dominic||Hines||Velo Club Edinburgh||2nd||st|
|21||48||Simon||Van Bellen||Aberdeen Wheelers CC||2nd||08:34|
|22||26||Tim||Mackley||Deeside Thistle CC||3rd||09:38|
|25||53||Brian||Widdison||Moray Firth Cycling Club||2nd||st|
|26||32||Peter||Murdoch||Paisley Velo Race Team||Elite||st|
|28||12||Ryan||Fenwick||The Rigmar Racers||2nd||11:53|
|29||4||Jack||Barrett||The Rigmar Racers||2nd||st|
|30||16||Andrew||Hale||Speg - Project 51||2nd||16:19|
|Pos||No.||Forename||Surname||Club / Team Name||Cat||Time|
|1||1||Jane||Barr||Starley Primal Pro Cycling||2nd||02:28:38|
|2||3||Julie||Erskine||Velosport - Pasta Montegrappa||1st|
|4||9||Gabriella||Nordin||Pedal Power RT||2nd|
|5||10||Eileen||Roe||Starley Primal Pro Cycling||Elite|
|6||5||Chloe||Fraser||Deeside Thistle CC||2nd|
|7||11||Jennifer||Taylor||Starley Primal Pro Cycling||2nd|
|9||8||Rebecca||Nixon||Dundee Thistle RC||3rd|
|10||4||Ashleigh||Fraser||Deeside Thistle CC||4th|
|11||2||Louise||Borthwick||Matrix Fitness - Vulpine||1st|
|12||12||Lynne||Wardrop||Ayr Roads Cycling Club||4th|
|13||6||Flora||Gillies||Speg - Project 51||2nd|
(Timing system had an error and gaps were not recorded)