Event: Hand Grabs SuP6R Six Success

Posted on:16th August 2011

Article by: Colin Renton

Gary Hand (Endura/Pedal Power Development Team) secured the Scottish Power Renewables SuP6R Six title for a second time when he snatched the win at the Billy Warnock Memorial Road Race, the final event in this year's competition.

Hand, who also prevailed in the inaugural series in 2007, needed to win to overhaul James McCallum (Rapha Condor-Sharp), who was absent on this occasion. And the Scottish international rider did exactly that on a dreich afternoon, taking the honours in a bunch sprint.

The Falkirk BC promotion brought to an end another year of successful collaboration between the title sponsors and Scottish Cycling. And it ended in some style with a hard fought race on a fast course around Grangemouth.

The heavy overnight rain abated shortly before the flag dropped, although surface water made sections of the route treacherous. However, the pace was high throughout an event that earned the accolade for race of the year from Scottish Cycling last season.

Despite several injections of pace, the bunch remained intact throughout the first two of the five circuits and it was the third lap which produced the first decisive move. A split occurred on the flat section through Airth and, by the time the riders reached the climb at Cowie, the gap had grown to a substantial margin.

Keith Laird (Glasgow Couriers) crested the hill first and continued to pile on the pressure. In his wake, Dooleys Racing Team headed the pursuers and they had trimmed the deficit by the time the field entered the penultimate circuit.

A further selection occurred on lap four, with the breakaway group splintering to leave Robbie Hassan (Endura/Pedal Power Development Team) and Ross Creber (Cycle Premier/Metaltek) 10 seconds clear at the head of the action entering the final circuit. A bunch of seven featuring all three of the elite squad from Herbalife/Wheelbase were chasing hard, while Allister Watt (Granite City RT) was drifting off the back of that posse.

But a big effort by the Endura squad brought the race together once more over the last lap and the outcome hung in the balance entering the long straight towards the finish line. Richard Bolt (Herbalife/Wheelbase) crossed the line with his arms raised. However, his celebrations were premature as there were still several hundred metres to race before the course doubled back and crossed the line for a second time. Around the final roundabout, the battle for the win gathered momentum and Hand squeezed home by the narrowest of margins to snatch the win and secure the overall title from James McCallum (Rapha Condor-Sharp), who missed the race.

In his wake, David Lines (Endura/Pedal Power Development Team) finished second, just pipping Graeme Neagle (Glasgow Wheelers) and Gary McCrae (Team Leslie Bike Shop/Right Move Windows). Following an investigation by the Chief Commisaire David lines was disqualified from the race moving Neagle and McRae into second and third respectively.

Afterwards Hand said, "The whole team rode for me - they were absolutely amazing. It was a great team effort. Going into the race, everyone knew that if I won it I would win the series."

The SuP6R Six success capped an impressive first season for the Endura Development squad. Hand added, "Obviously the main objective is to help bring the young lads on and give them experience of racing as part of a team. So I owe that result to the team."

Meanwhile, in the support race, Ricky Sutherland (Royal Albert) had the edge in a gallop involving 51 riders, just getting the better of Neil Crawford (Dundee Thistle) and Dale McCallum (Bicycleworks), whose third place secured the overall win in the B series, which was reduced to five events. Tucked safely in the bunch was Jenny Stanning (Edinburgh RC), winner of the women's competition.