Words and images: The Press Room
To the casual observer, start sheet in hand and a copy of the stats from the last few years, it must have seemed like a foregone conclusion just who would take the Scottish Cycling National 25-Mile Time Trial title for 2015. He’d already blown the field apart to win the 10-Mile championship on a horrendous day and Iain Grant (Fullarton Wheelers) has been the man to beat for several years now.
But situations change, form comes and goes, and it’s been a stellar couple of weeks for the Scottish contingent of Neon-Velo Cycling Team. Straight off the back of a strong showing at the Ras the boys headed to the Scottish Cycling National Road Race at Alloway where Peter Murdoch helped teammate Steven Lawley keep control of his constant urge to attack. Playing their part in the race-long breakaway Lawley finally sailed away to victory just before the fast-chasing pair of Evan Oliphant (Raleigh-GAC) and Craig Wallace (Zirauna-Infisport) made the junction. On Thursday’s Squirrel Crit in Dunfermline there was no holding back this time for Lawley as he attacked on lap 1 and ended up putting more than 3-minutes into the chasers.
At Irvine though it was Murdoch’s turn to shine. He was second here last year when he’d turned himself inside out but another year on, at a higher level, and he was ready to bring the challenge to Grant. As always with seeded time trials, it’s going to come down to the last men off but there had been a full field before these guys came by. We’d started with the juniors and Gavin Laffoley of Fife Century quickly followed by Thomas Deas of Highland Bikes. It wasn’t a large field for the junior riders, unlike the 10, but a lot of them were away riding the Kingdom Junior Classic in Fife.
A couple of minutes later and Emily Middleditch (Deeside Thistle) came around the first roundabout and found the correct exit and was away. A couple of riders later and Sarah Bradford of the Johnstone Jets came past looking much more comfortable than last week in the road race. She would eventually take the Junior title and will look to a strong finish next year. Next up and looking very fast was last week’s winner Chloe Fraser (Team Rytger) who was on target to get under the hour when she quite literally went off course, missing a turn and ending up cutting a section of the race route. She’ll be back but she was definitely looking to take the fight to the leading riders.
Pretty soon we were down to the last two and we wondered how Toni McIntosh (Ayr Roads) would fare having dropped her energy stash of tablet on a warm up circuit of the first roundabout but she was looking smooth as she came around for the one that counted. Last woman off was Lynsey Curran and she in determined mood as she’d been on course to take the title last year when she’d flatted out.
We changed position just after she passed and caught her again as she took the sharp little mini-roundabout before passing through the underpass and she made one of the smoothest approaches in and round…much better than some of the men that followed. In the end she would be the only woman to break the hour and her time of 59:38 took the title and the medal. Toni McIntosh posted 1:01:27 to take silver with Emily Middleditch in the bronze spot at 1:02:10. These were excellent times considering the women had more of the chilly conditions to contend with than the later-starting men.
It was cold, and just as Lynsey Curran left the starter she encountered the last rain shower of the day but it was enough to just make the early riders take the turns just that little bit more cautiously. As the riders headed south they had the wind at their backs but there’s a 180˚ turn back onto the dual carriageway…and straight into the headwind for 7 miles. And it was a killer wind with a number of riders struggling on this section. The majority of catches also happened along this drag before the riders turned again and headed back southwards. A final loop out towards Kilmarnock gave the legs some respite but it was short-lived as they then turned to head in the opposite direction before finally circling around to the finishing straight.
As we watched from the north end of the headwind section near Eglinton some riders knew the conditions had got the better of them and they would struggle to match last year but with the final men coming through at two minute gaps we relocated to the on-ramp on the other side to watch as the seeded riders headed south again. Ben Peacock (Bilsland Cycles) was looking good but he would end by taking an extra turn around one of the roundabouts and losing time. He told us afterwards that he’s been chasing that 1-second gap ever since missing out on Commonwealth Games selection but he’s loving his new job as bike mechanic in the shop at the Saltmarket.
No Silas Goldsworthy so there was a gap before Arthur Doyle (www.Dooleys-Cycles.co.uk) came through, looking pretty smooth but caked in his usual salt. Then Peter Murdoch appeared off the roundabout shouting for a time as he went by. We waited for what seemed more than 2 minutes before Grant appeared coming up the off-ramp on the other side. Of course, the two medal contenders had just caught their first sight of each other as they passed on opposite sides of the carriageway and Murdoch knew he was in with a chance of claiming the title. Grant was looking focused as he sped back down the on-ramp in pursuit but it’s really difficult to gauge his effort as he always looks in control. He knew though that he had a fight on his hands.
Round to the finish and we saw rider after rider give it everything as they crossed the River Irvine just before the line. Doyle looked very strong as usual but in no time at all Murdoch was there and he flashed passed the flag, barely having the energy to shout his number. The clock was running and the two-minute mark had clicked by before Grant appeared and was past us and onto the roundabout at the end to cool down.
Back at Race HQ, there was a bit of confusion about some of the times but Grant knew that Murdoch had done the better ride and was the first to congratulate him, even before it became official. Lots of the riders had hung on to see the prize-giving and Murdoch was duly announced as the winner of the men’s race in a time of 52:13 with Grant in silver by 22 seconds at 52:35 and Doyle in the bronze medal position at 53:02. Fantastic times considering the strong winds on a day that ended in sunshine. The team prize went to www.Dooleys-Cycles.co.uk and Grant won the Ayrshire and Dumfriesshire Cycling Association Team Shield with Tam Gordon and Gordon Stead.
It’s been a great week for Neon-Velo Cycling Team as Steven Lawley was also in action on Sunday and took the win at the Anderside Classic so the Gaffer will be a happy man. Peter Murdoch was content to hang around at the end of the TT and was overheard giving out nutritional advice to some of the other riders while Tam Gordon (Fullarton Wheelers) had his wellies on and was threatening to go back out and collect some of the road-kill from the course. He wasn’t much interested in the large exploded seagull, or the decomposing fox…he also didn’t like the look of the dead badger but he probably had his eye on the deer that everyone had ridden past.
Name: Lynsey Curran
Home town: Glasgow
Name: Peter Murdoch
Team: Neon Velo Cycling Team
Home town: Glasgow