With the medal successes of Team Scotland still ringing in our ears we gathered at Townhill Community Centre in Fife for the annual running of the Scottish National Junior Men’s Road Race Championship, the first championship of 2018.
Hosted by Dunfermline Cycling Club, and incorporating the Jack Murray Trophy, on paper at least it looked like a shoot-out between the talents of Spokes RT and Glasgow Cycling Team. Both had come team-handed and with Dylan Hughes, Spokes RT had already tasted success this year.
We spoke to Alfie George and recent recruit Oran McConville and asked how a team with such talent sorted out their tactics. “There are no team orders really” said George. “We just wait and see how the race develops. If someone gets away, I guess it’s just the cardinal rule of not chasing down your teammate.”
With that, the convoy assembled and was away from Townhill, up through Bowershall and onto the 7.7km Lathalmond Circuit. Entering halfway round meant that the race would be over 9 and a half laps of the course with the main rise on the back of the circuit up past the Vintage Bus Museum. It’s quite a rolling course with no real stonker of a hill to contend with but it can be very exposed in places and the wind can play its part…in the face at times or hard on the brakes for the tricky hairpins. On the finish straight there is a big swooping downhill with a very sharp rise about 500 metres before the line and this was always going to be a killer.
With the noise of the track-day at near-by Knockhill echoing around the hills the bunch stayed together for the first couple of laps…stretched out but largely intact with only a couple of stragglers off the back. The full field also incorporated the Cat 3 / 4 and they were running together although the results would be recorded differently. Some of the senior riders were stretching the field but Morgan Brown (Spokes RT) and Alex Dent (Spokes RT), along with Jamie Penny (Glasgow CT) were staying attentive for their teams. Also looking relaxed was Struan Pryde (Pedal Heaven RT) giving us his usual thumbs up as he passed.
It was never going to stay that way and next time around Dylan Hughes was out on his own, then Alfie George and then the bunch. We can only guess that Hughes and George made their move on the rise before the finish and Hughes would go it alone as George slipped back into the peloton. Glasgow CT put up a challenge with Jamie Penny stringing the bunch out but with several Spokes RT riders sitting in, it was always going to be a tall order.
The Spokes riders liked that little launchpad and Alex Dent broke off the front of the group with Alfie George making the same move 50 metres back. The bunch was splintering now with the Glasgow CT riders trying to bridge the gap. Hughes was building up quite a lead, about 45 seconds over Dent and George who had joined together and were riding in between the main field and the leader.
On the penultimate lap the chasers had reduced their teammate’s lead by about 15 seconds but Alfie George’s words at the start were playing out and the pair were maintaining their position ahead of the bunch rather than chasing down Hughes. Cresting the rise Struan Pryde took off from the bunch with 7.7km to try and chase down those ahead of him. When he came to the finish Tim Shoreman (Dales Cycles RT Scotland) was with him so we can only assume that he caught Pryde at some point.
Coming into the finish though it was another stunning win for Dylan Hughes and he had plenty of time to celebrate. Alfie George used his track speed to distance Alex Dent and came home 27 seconds behind Hughes, with Dent a further 4 seconds back. Next to finish was Struan Pryde as he outsprinted the big Dales Cycles rider Tim Shoreman, better known for his mountainbike skills but putting on an excellent show here. They were a further 41 seconds behind Alex Dent.
And then came the big bunch sprint, with the juniors taking on the older riders…and there was no stopping Matti Dobbins (Glasgow CT) as he just beat Ryan Bunyan (Encore Velo) by the width of a tyre. Spokes’ new boy Oran McConville just beat Glasgow Green CC’s Alan Clark with another Spokes RT rider, Morgan Brown, just behind him. Rounding out the top 12 were the Edinburgh RC pairing of Louie Doig and Christopher Hordon, all in the same time.
It was another great performance from the Young Guns of Spokes RT with four riders in the top ten, great control of the race and a solo winner in tremendous style, and not for the first time this year.
It was back to Townhill where the helpers that had been unable to come up and watch the race had followed the action through the speedhive.mylaps.com feed provided by Mark Young.
Onto the podium presentations as Dylan Hughes’ new National Championship jersey made a nice contrast to the Spokes jerseys on either side of him and a presentation of the Jack Murray trophy from the man himself.
See you all in Eddleston for the Tour of the Meldons/Scottish National Olympic TT Championship next weekend.
Follow @ScottishCycling for event updates #SCNatChamps