CURRAN TAKES OVERALL HAUL IN SCOTTISH WOMEN'S BIGGEST RACE.
Words: John McComisky
Images: Caroline Lukes
Sharon Argue Memorial Road Race
Saturday 25th of May saw a historic day for Women's cycling in Scotland, with a record breaking 54 rider field assemble to take part in the third running of the Sharon Argue Memorial Road Race. The event organised by Grant Thomson in memory of his late partner Sharon has continually grown into what is now regarded as the most popular event on the Scottish Women's racing calendar.
Grant relies heavily on friends and family to make the race happen but was quick to add “The support and financial assistance we have received from Jim and the team at Dales in Glasgow (Series sponsors) really makes the event for us and I am glad that they have been with us growing the event from its inception, every rider received a sign on bag with goodies, this proved to be incredibly popular as we had riders travelling from all corners of the UK to compete in the event”
The race itself had a two tier format with a morning prologue (5m TT) as well as a challenging seven mile loop that would take in the lanes, roads and selective climbs surrounding the Limerigg and Slamannan area to the South of Falkirk. The normally exposed area was for once bathed in glorious sunshine, though riders would still have to battle with punchy head and crosswinds during the day.
The Morning time trial pushed things off, with the majority of the field adopting road bikes for the lumpy five mile course, though there was still a smattering of high spec TT rigs on show, with riders hoping to gain an aggregate time advantage before the road race.
At the head of the race came Lynsey Curran (Dooleys Cycling Team) fresh from a recent second place in the Scottish 10 MileTime Trial Championships, who posted a hugely impressive 13:25, she was followed home by one of the leading lights of Scottish road racing Anne Ewing, who races with the U.C.I registered Dutch team of W.V Breda with a time of 13:37, with the Series leader going into round three Emily Middleditch (Deeside Thistle) consolidating a fine third with a time of 13:40. The only other riders to break into the thirteen minute bracket were the fancied Julie Erskine (IKON-Mazda) with a 13:46 and the furthest travelled competitor all the way from Devon and Cornwall Mary McFadzean (GB cycling) who managed a 13:56.
After a short respite back at the Limerigg Headquarters of the race, the road race proper rode into action, with the huge peleton making its way up the main street to the support of a sizeable and vocal crowd.
It would not take long for the main protagonists to start stripping back the field into a manageable working group, but even those riders who were unfortunate enough to get spat out the back were soon making alliances with fellow riders to work together for the minor placings in the punishing thirty mile road race.
Up front Anne Ewing was very active along with Erskine, who on more than one occasion had an attack off the front, the best of those gaining a five second advantage, but riding solo, she was soon sucked back into the twelve strong group. With the laps being whittled down, and the group staying intact, riders were running out of opportunities to make a break for it, and it would come down to the very last climb of the day to sort out the uphill sprint back into the village.
There certainly was a lot of jostling for position at the base of the final climb, and that was to prove to be the undoing of four of the fancied riders for a podium or indeed the win. Claire Martin (Team 22) who had been up front for the full race went down heavily in a tangle of bikes, along with the far travelled McFadzean. Martin suffered concussion in the incident, and took no further part in the proceedings, but the other fallen riders, bloodied and shaken remounted to ride accross the line.
With all the drama behind the front of the race, it was going to be left to Erskine and Ewing to bash it out to the line with the fluro pink and blue IKON-Mazda kit of Erskine lunging for the line, from Ewing and Ellen McDermott (Team WattCycle) who added another podium to her race season tally.
With the two Race Format coming into play, overall victory went to the class act that is Lynsey Curran who held station in the main group for the duration of the road race, knowing that anyone who would have be able to take at least twelve seconds out of her lead from the morning time trial. Second rolled out for Ewing who is now off on International duty with a series of races in Holland in the coming weeks, with Emily Middleditch a strong third and top of the heap amongst the very strong posse of Deeside Thistle racers.
The Sharon Argue Memorial Road Race is also famed for the Team event that runs concurrently with the event itself, this year the whole field were split into club and composite teams with the winners on the day of Sharon’s chainring trophy going to Team Tootie Frooties with a strong roster of : Lynsey Curran, Ellen McDermott, Lorna Ferguson, Lyndsey Carson and Piegi Series. The girls were happy to accept the trophy from Corrine from the Finding Your Feet Charity that Grant and the race supports, you can find out more about this and the remarkable woman behind it here : http://www.findingyourfeet.net/about-us/
The next round of the series takes place in Dundee on the 21st of June and details of this and the full series standings itself can be found here: https://www.britishcycling.org.uk/scotland/article/sc-scottish-cyclingSCOTTISH-NATIONAL-ROAD-RACE-SERIES
It should be noted that there has also been a lot of behind the scenes work done by the likes of Fiona Walker, Scottish Cycling and Dales Cycles in encouraging new participants into racing in Scotland, this will continue to be an ongoing process with coaching and support but if the event is anything to go by, National racing for women will be breaking new ground in the coming seasons.
The Sharon Argue Memorial Trophy - Women’s' Team Race takes place at Slamannan near Falkirk this Saturday. 53 women have preentered the race making it one of the largest women’s fields in a road race in Scotland ever.
The race consists of a prologue stage of approximately 5 miles and the main road race consisting of 4 laps of a 7.3 mile undulating circuit, starting and finishing in the village of Limerigg.
Round 1 winner, Flora Gillies (Project 51) round 2 winner, Ashleigh Fraser (Deeside Thistle) and series leader Emily Middleditch (Deeside Thistle) are the main favourites. Other likely contenders include Claire Martin (Team 22), Ellen McDermott (Team Watt Cycle), Julie Erskine (IKON-Mazda) and time trial champion, Lynsey Curran (www.Dooleys-Cycles.co.uk).
The Sharon Argue Memorial Trophy will be awarded to the best placed team following combination of the prologue and race results.
In addition to the Inverness round of the Series, a further 3 events will take place across the country in Dundee, Banchory and Aviemore.
Click here for more information on how to enter the Scottish Cycling Women’s Road Race Series, supported by Dales Cycles.