Matti Dobbins took advantage of an impressive show of strength from his Wheelbase CabTech Castelli team to sprint his way to the Scottish National Road Race Championship title in Killearn.
The 120km route setting off from Balfron High School and finishing in Killearn saw the the inclusion several climbs. The early ascent of Dukes Pass above Aberfoyle always produces surprises and this running of the National Road Race Championships, which was held in conjunction with the Sam Robinson Memorial Road Race, would prove to be no different.
Rolling away from the start it didn’t take the bunch long to hit the slopes and this resulted in the main group splitting into three. One big bunch, followed by one smaller bunch and then an even smaller group at the tail end.
Gregor McArthur (The Cycling Academy) would show his climbing credentials by figuring in every prime to take that particular in-race prize. The descent and the rolling roads along the top of Loch Venachar would see the two main groups come back together but the others wouldn’t see the head of the race again, steadily losing time as the race unwound.
After some early attack from Andy Brown (Velocity 44 RT), the first real move of the race came from Lewis Martin (Studio Velo) with a solo attack as the race came round the smaller ‘Braes’ loop. He would be away on his own for a lap in what looked like a strong move but the Wheelbase guys were just biding their time, Callum Thornley bossing the front of the bunch.
The decisive move went with 40km to go when Dobbins and Ciaran McSherry (The Cycling Academy) managed to get away from the much-reduced bunch of around 30 riders.
From that much reduced peloton Louis Moore (Vanelli- Project Go), Alex Ball (Zappi Racing Team), Joe Shillabeer (05/03) joined the front on the final ascent of the “mini-braes” climb and Logan Maclean (Wheelbase CabTech Castelli) bridged across on the final climb of the Braes and made it six at the front.
After some strong riding from the Wheelbase duo, Alex Ball and fast-finisher Ciaran McSherry were dropped and the four remaining riders worked well, going through and off towards the final roundabout turn and the almost one-kilometer climb to the finish line.
Shillabeer led it out, while Logan Maclean came round him with 50 metres to go, Matti came off his wheel and slowly pulled alongside and then edged ahead, the two teammates fighting it out between them. At the line, it was a win by a bike length with Joe Shillabeer just two seconds back in third and Louis Moore right on his wheel to take fourth.
The bunch had been closing and were led home 30 seconds later by Gregor McArthur, once again showing he can race uphill. The riders were coming in now separated by nothing more than seconds, down to Alex Ball in 22nd spot. Then it was a wait of several minutes before the rest of the riders hit the finish to seal a fantastic weekend of championship racing hosted by Glasgow Nightingale Cycling Club.
Dobbins, resplendent in his new National Champions jersey, said after the race:
“I feel great, it was a really grippy course, a great day out and I’m so happy to have won!”
On the numerical advantage that he and teammate Logan Maclean possessed in the bunch, Dobbins said:
“We tried a couple of times to get into moves, but it was really good to have two of the team in the break, I think it was really helpful.
Having ridden the race, James McCallum changed hats and presented the medals on behalf of Scottish Cycling, while Sam Robinson’s son Jim presented the trophy made in his father’s memory, a trophy with some very prestigious names.
A top event, not dampened by the strange weather and in true Scottish form, the sun came out just after the finish. Matti Dobbins and Logan Maclean congratulated the host club, and Jim Robinson, for such a real cracker of a course.
Full results can be found here.
You can re-watch live clips, and the sprint finish in this twitter thread here.