Scottish National Road Race Championships: Playing the Long Game

Scottish National Road Race Championships: Playing the Long Game

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With last year’s Scottish National Road Race Champions, Evan Oliphant and Eileen Roe, not taking part in this year’s event hosted by Spokes Cycles we knew we were going to have brand new champions.

The Women’s race was always going to be difficult to predict as any number of riders could have triumphed on the day while in the Men’s event, two names kept coming to the fore…but it was the wise head of Harry Tweed who predicted the eventual winner, a very deserving champion in a closely fought sprint. And the Women’s race also came down to a sprint finish although the spectators held their collective breath as they waited for the sprint to start, coming late as it did.  

Arriving in Kennoway in the heart of the ‘Kingdom’ organizer Blair Whiteside had everything looking very professional. More marshals than you could throw a hi-vis at, the excellent NEG and even a breakfast laid on for the early starters.

First away was the Development race and this incorporated 3/4/Juniors. It wasn’t long before Dylan Hughes of the host club Spokes RT had soloed off the front going up the first climb of Cults Hill. This set the pattern for the race as he appeared to get a little further ahead each time around. Heading onto the finish loop the bunch accelerated and caught him and as they rounded the corner at the bottom of the finish straight they were all going hell for leather.

Leading from the front was Alexander MacRae (Pro Vision Scotland) and he held them off all the way up to the finish, with time to look back and raise one arm in a victory salute. A top sprint from the ‘Kiloman’.

Next it was the turn of the Women and the race played out in a very similar fashion to the early season Tour de Gladhouse. A main bunch took up the running with dropped riders forming into smaller groups, or pairings. In fact, the race route was quite similar with lots of ups and downs, technical sections and long drags leaving limited chances for recovery.

Several times around and the front group was down to five riders: Julie Erskine (Cycle Team In Form), Genevieve Whitson (Isorex Cycling Team), Jesse Mitchell (www.Dooleys-Cycles.co.uk), Seonaid Thompson (SunSport Velo) and Joanne Thom (Sandy Wallace Cycles). Lynsey Curran (www.Dooleys-Cycles.co.uk) and Flora Gillies (Team 22) were chasing with Amanda Tweedie (RT23) caught between them and Ellen McDermott (EDCO Continental) and Juli Rourke (Edinburgh RC).

As they headed in from the finish loop we heard that Seonaid Thompson was now longer with them having dropped away. Coming up the hill to the finish line it almost looked as if the lead four were not going to sprint it out but with 100m to go they spread across the road and gave it everything. It looked to be between Julie Erskine and Genevieve Whitson but Joanne Thom was also in the hunt. In the end it was a decisive win for Erskine from Whitson with Thom just behind and Mitchell rolling over for fourth spot. A bit of a wait and the others appeared and the sprint started a lot earlier. It came down to Ellen McDermott and Flora Gillies and it was very close, the Team 22 rider just shading it on the line.

Onto the Men’s event and most people were tipping that the title would go to either John Archibald (Pro Vision Scotland) or Fraser Martin (Raleigh GAC). Second time up Cults Hill and a small group was clear but this was just the taster before things got serious. Next time around and a selection had been made with eight riders off the front: three Pro Vision riders including Archibald, David Griffiths and Ruari Grant, Fraser Martin and Mark Robertson (Army Cycling Race Team) and the very talented Stephen Dent (Spokes RT) to name a few.

A small bunch including Jason Roberts and Greig Brown (Pro Vision Scotland) was trailing them with the main group not far behind. As they came around the other side of the circuit the Roberts group had made contact and increased the size of the leading bunch. There were too many talented riders in this group and the contenders obviously thought so too because as they came around a lap later it was down to three…Robertson, Archibald and Martin. It was at this point that Harry Tweed predicted that if Martin and Archibald didn’t get rid of Robertson they would be sharing the lesser medals.

As the leaders hit the finishing loop we were listening to race radio and we heard both Archibald and Martin attacking in desperate bids to shed the others. John Archibald later said that he knew that if he arrived at the finish with the other two he would be finishing in third spot. All attacks came to nothing though and the trio rounded the bottom corner and headed up towards the finish. From about 250m they took up the sprint with Archibald quickly realizing it wouldn’t be his day. Roberson and Fraser were sprinting side by side with the Raleigh man initially looking like he had the edge. With the line fast approaching Robertson managed to overhaul Martin and take a close finish, shouting and punching the air in obvious joy. Archibald rolled home to finish third and both he and Martin looked a little crestfallen having worked so hard today. However, they were quick to congratulated Robertson who was delighted with the win and his Gold medal and winner’s jersey.

Stephen Dent salvaged some honour for the host club by winning the bunch sprint but the real honour goes to Blair Whiteside and his team for a great day’s racing over a challenging course.

Full results can be found here.