When Team Raleigh’s Evan Oliphant signed on in Girvan this morning, few would have bet against him to take the win. However, who would have predicted it would be after a 14 man sprint up South Park Avenue after 81miles of racing including six categorised climbs?
Oliphant was as pleased as he was relieved after just pipping Herbalife – LeisureLakesBikes .com’s Andrew Hawdon, with Scott McCrossan in third. Ironically, despite the reputation of the event for its tough parcours, Oliphant cited his experience of racing crits as the factor behind the win. ”I knew from racing the evening criterium in the Girvan 3 Day that whoever led round the last corner would not win – it is too far out. I held on as late as possible.”
The action kicked off at 11am with a ceremonial lap of Victory Park before the peloton rolled out of Girvan onto the main coast road and the racing commenced. Supported by South Ayrshire Council, this was the 48th edition of the classic Scottish ‘monument’.
A number of riders tried to get clear on the run down to Lendalfoot, including Mark Stewart of ASL360. All were shut down by Oliphant who explained he didn’t want a break to get away before the climb of Carleton in case it led to a long chase. Coming at just 7 miles, the steep opening pitches of Carleton forced a split in the group as 15 riders lost contact. Oliphant and Team IG Sigma Sport’s Ben Greenwood summited first, but with over 70 miles to race decided not to press the advantage.
The second prime of the day at the Screws saw Oliphant take maximum points again ahead of Hawdon and Greenwood. Under a deluge of rain, David Lines made a daring solo bid, gaining more than 30 seconds on the bunch when the race passed through Girvan for the first of four laps of a touch fourteen mile circuit around the Byne and Tormitchel. Oliphant secured his victory in the King of the Mountains with a top three finish on the first passage of the Byne.
Oliphant consolidates his lead in the DigitalMyWay.com KOM competition on the Screws.
A lap later and Lines advantage had been cut to less that 15 seconds. A block headwind climbing the Byne neutralised attacks from the pack behind, but also made for a lonely race for out front. Paisley Velo’s Peter Murdoch bridged over to Lines on the third run through Girvan, and the two managed to extend their lead to maximum 58 seconds.
But come the bell lap it was all back together, with everyone expecting fireworks on the last lap. Realising their best chance lay in a setting up a sprint finish for Hawdon, Herbalife – Leisure Lakes Bikes.com neutralised the digs on the final passage of the Byne and it was a group of 14 that entered Girvan for the finishing circuit of Victory Park. A late move by two riders caused some brief nerves in the group, but on the final bend it was grouppo compacto and the assembled crowd were treated to a nail-biting sprint finish.
Twenty-six riders in total completed the 48th edition of the race run under ever-changing weather conditions and over the challenging hill roads of the Ayrshire Alps cycle park area.
Andrew Sinclair of South Carrick Community Leisure was on-hand to present the winners with their trophies, and gifts from event sponsors William Grant’s & Sons.
Race winner Evan Oliphant thanked the organisers and community for another great race, and remarked ‘just one more’, referring to the wins he needs in the event to match David Millar’s record of four.
“It was a hard race. I average 275 watts over the event, which is higher than I have been doing in the Premier Calendars, but at the same time the course clearly wasn’t as hard as everyone was suggesting as that was a straight sprint at the end. I can’t remember the last time I contested a sprint like that to settle a Scottish race.”
When asked about his three victories, Oliphant joked “I shouldn’t have let (then teammate) Ross Creber win in 2009 or i’d have done it already!” Oliphant lines up for the Tour of Britain next month, and will be targetting stage wins.
Runner up Andrew Hawdon explained there was some confusion in his team as to the finishing position, catching up lead out man Martin Ford. ”This was definitely one of the races I was targeting this season. Its been a successful day for the team, but i’m obviously disappointed to have been beaten by such a small margin”.
The race was the climax of the Ayrshire Alps Cycling Festival, a weekend of cycling promoted by Ayr Roads Cycling Club and supported by South Ayrshire Council. As well as the Davie Bell the club promoted the Highwayman Audax over 200km and 100km, and the SCCL Youth Criteriums.
1 Evan Oliphant Team Raleigh 03:27:51
2 Andrew Hawdon Herbalife-Leisure Lakes Bikes .com same time
3 Scott McCrossan Rock to Roll Cycles Ltd same time
4 Ben Greenwood Team IG Sigma Sport same time
5 Martin Ford Herbalife-Leisure Lakes Bikes .com same time
6 Alastair McCauley Phoenix CC same time
7 Andrew Whitehall Equipe Velo Ecosse/ Montpelliers same time
8 Bradley Stokes Pedal Power RT same time
9 Stuart McCluskey www. Dooleys-Cycles.co.uk same time
10 Steven Lawley TheBicycleWorks .com same time
11 Collin Humphrey Achieve - Skinnergate Racing same time
12 Jamie Kennedy Paisley Velo Race Team same time
13 Mark Stewart Team ASL360 same time
14 Alex Coutts Herbalife-Leisure Lakes Bikes .com same time
15 Gary Jeffers East Tyrone Cycling Club at 6:17
16 Peter Murdoch Paisley Velo Race Team at 7:08
17 Richard McDonald Equipe Velo Ecosse/ Montpelliers at 7:45
18 Greig Brown www. Dooleys-Cycles.co.uk same time
19 Robert Friel Private same time
20 David Lines MG Maxifuel Pro Cycling at 7:53
21 Ian Taylor Ciclocostablanca .com at 9:23
22 Sean Gordon Team Thomsons Cycles at 11:07
23 John Brown Private at 11:18
24 Daniel McShane Glasgow Road Club at 11:21
25 Stephen Russell East Kilbride Road Club at 11:27
26 Gary Hand Herbalife-Leisure Lakes Bikes .com same time
27 Keith Laird Team Thomsons Cycles at 15:55
28 Chris Smart Paisley Velo Race Team at 18:37
Savoy Park Under 23
Scott McCrossan Rock to Roll Cycles Ltd
Digital My Way King of the Mountains
Evan Oliphant Team Raleigh
First 3rd Cat
Sean Gordon Team Thomsons Cycles