Finn Crocket bounced back from a crash at the opening round of the Tour Series just two days earlier to take third as the Tour Series touched Scottish roads for the first time in 2022.
The sun shone down on Galashiels, the borders town hosting the Tour Series for the first time, on a short but incredibly fast one kilometre circuit, which was lined the whole way around by enthusiastic Scottish supporters.
Giving them something to cheer about were the three Scottish riders in the Men’s Race, first off at 17.30pm, as that trio made the front group, which forged clear off the field very early on in proceedings.
Finn Crockett and Stuart Balfour (Ribble Weldtite), the latter a borders boy, and Kieran Riley (PB Performance) were said trio, all three of them riding technically and physically well to put themselves in contention. Riding at this level for the first time in what is set to a promising career in the sport, Riley couldn’t quite keep pace for the duration, not surprising given the riders travelling at 50km/h!
Balfour was more than up to the task though, as 45 minutes into the 65 minute race he escaped said front group of just over 10 riders, and joined by Jacob Scott, set out to win the race the hard way. For a while it looked like they might succeed, but eventually the group pegged them back.
Next it was Finn’s turn – again the move was neutralised – but with 4 laps to go he jumped on Jim Brown’s wheel and it looked like that pair might go 1-2. That was until the home straight where the lead group made contact and it was anyone’s race.
Brown went long, and just about held on to take victory, with Matt Bostock making it a Wiv SunGod 1-2, Crockett holding on for bronze, a gutsy ride.
Reflecting on that ride and his form so far this year, Finn said:
“That was much better than Monday, where we were plagued with bad luck – it’s just a shame in that final we were a bit out gassed, but fair play to the Canyon boys. I was away with Jim, who won, but I could just see behind they were lining it up for the last three laps and I had to lead it out in those last 500m – I managed to hold on for third but it’s a shame not to win in front of a home crowd.
“I had to rip off my bandage as it was flapping away during the race! I came off pretty hard on Monday so to back it up with this I’m really happy. I’ve got Lincoln now on Sunday which is one of my big goals.”
On his form so far in 2022, he added:
“It’s been a little bit unexpected, but it’s been amazing – two weekends ago at Rutland was just the cherry on top – it was awesome. It’s one of the best races in the UK I think and it sets me up for the rest of the season where we have some big goals.”
Balfour would also contest that dash for the line, the local lad replicating Crockett’s 13th place finish at the opener on Monday, with Riley a credible 21st.
For the first time in Tour Series history the women took the main billing at the end of a great day for cycling in Galashiels, which started with children and the community getting to experience the same circuit our elites would later on.
A strong Scottish contingent towed the line, largely donning the colours of Alba Development RT, who wore the Saltire with pride, much the enjoyment of the supporters around the town centre.
As per the men’s race, it didn’t take too long for things to break up, a large front group of 20 riders contesting the spoils. Amongst that group were Sophie Enever (Alba) and Beth Harley-Jepson (Jadan – Vive Le Velo), the pair more than holding their own as very little was allowed to escape more than a few yards up the road.
That meant it all came down to a bunch sprint for the line, Harley-Jepson taking the honours of top Scot in seventh place, with Enever just six places back in 13th.
From just down the road in Earlston, it really was a local affair for Beth, who’s family watched on. Of her efforts she surmised:
“It was amazing – the field is so strong at the moment which just makes the racing really, really hard – but that makes it all the more worthwhile when you manage to hang on in! I’m really happy with the result.”
Next stop for the Tour Series is Sunderland next Tuesday, before returning to Scotland next Thursday (12th May) as Stranraer plays host to round four.
Full results can be found here.