Thursday, June 20, 2024

Gary Hand – “I Didn’t Do Anything Wrong”


HomeInterviewsGary Hand - "I Didn't Do Anything Wrong"

You always miss something when you go on holiday — the latest Super Six at Falkirk, for example; I knew I’d be away for the race but said to the organiser if he let me know who’d won, I’d do an interview with them. Gary Hand (Endura) was the man to take the honours — no surprises then?

But there was a caveat; a source close to organisers told us…

“The chat has started already on the Braveheart forum because of some controversy. It will be interesting to hear Gary Hand’s view — he was led out to win by Dave Lines who missed part of a lap due to a mechanical. It took a long time to make a decision on the win, after the race.”

Gary Hand.

We’d best ask Gary, then;

Well, Gary?

“You’d need to speak to Davie about that; so far I’ve heard about 15 versions of what happened on Sunday – but there was a whole lot going on in that race other than the last 100 yards. There were splits, regrouping and bridging up to the break to talk about – but folks will always latch on to the negative.

“There was a break of around 10 away — me, Robbie Hassan and Davie Lines bridged up for Endura and at that stage the others become reluctant to work because we were so well represented. Robbie and I had digs but it came down to a sprint; what the guys from the English Herbal Life team hadn’t realised was that you sprinted after the roundabout, not going in to it — the finish was on the others side of the road in the opposite direction.

“They threw their hands up, thinking they’d won — but I got on the back of them and got into the roundabout first.

“Then I heard Davie Lines shout ‘inside,’ he’d come after me, passed me on the roundabout but he’d jumped so hard that I couldn’t hold him. I had to shout to tell him to ease up because I had to win to take the Super Six overall.

“We finished about five bike lengths clear and I was happy to take the win and the series — the team really were brilliant, all of them, all day.”

But the result is ‘provisional?’

“I’d considered giving Scottish Cycling a ring but it’s not down to me; I’ll wait and see if they contact me.

“But what I’d ask everyone to remember is that everyone who was in that break benefitted from the hard work which Davie did to drive it and keep it clear — not just me in the last 100 yards.

“And I also point out that I didn’t actually do anything wrong.”

Davie was second?

“Yes, but he pulled himself out of the race, after the finish.”

Was it an aggressive race?

“The race average was just below 25 mph for 80 miles so I think that speaks for itself; the weather was foul and I think everyone just wanted to get on with it and keep warm!

“It’s always good to have English guys up racing in Scotland — that helps.”

Was it true to the spirit of Super Six — a shorter, flatter circuit, taking the racing to the public?

“It was flat, fast and hard to split, the break of 15 or so was only 30 seconds clear of a bunch of about 50 — so, yes, I think it was true to the concept.

“I’ve had my differences with James McCallum on the bike but his idea for the Super Sixes was a good one.”

Gary Hand takes a business-like win, in front of Alex Coutts when riding for Endura mark 1.

Was the series win a goal for you at the start of the year?

“Not at all; the team was set up to develop young riders — take them down to Premier Calendar races.

“The Super Six series we saw more as preparing them for the English races; but I found myself in the position where I could win overall coming in to the last round.

“The team made life easier for me; they rode out of their skins — but at the end of the day, I still had to push the pedals.”

There have been comments about letting pros like James McCallum and Evan Oliphant ride.

“I think it’s fantastic for those guys to ride, anything that makes the races harder — and more English riders too.

“Evan and James have professional attitudes to the sport and it’s good to see them involved.”

Are you enjoying your mentoring role at Endura?

“I am enjoying it but I have a full time job to think about too — at Pedal Power we’re moving from our current 700 square metres to 7,000; that’s going to involve a lot of work.

“Davie Lines and I have a lot of knowledge we’ve gained over the years and it’s good to pass that on — but we still have our own goals within the sport.”

What does the rest of the season hold?

“There are two Premier Calendars — the Pro-Am Tweedsdale and the Richmond, and that’s about it for this year.”

How many seasons have you raced — and how do the standards compare?

“This is my eighth season — when I started the equivalent to the Super Sixes were the Grand Prixs and I can remember those being cancelled because of lack of entries.

“I can also remember riding one with a field of 21 riders — look at now, they’re always oversubscribed.

“I was looking at one of my old training diaries and one Grand Prix which I rode had an average speed of 21 mph.

“The standard is definitely higher, here and in England where Rapha and Endura bringing in continental riders have certainly raised the quality of competition.”

And are you still as motivated?

“Oh aye!

“I definitely enjoy it, even if I stop racing I’ll still ride my bike; I have a fiancée now, a house and a fulltime job so I’m hanging by a thread — but I still enjoy riding my bike.”

One thing that would make Scottish racing better?

“To have races finish in town centres and to have a bit more support from the police — or whoever it’s necessary to work with to do that.

“In West Calder they can shut the town down for an Orange walk — why not for a bike race?”

Laugh(ter) Lines, as Davie enjoys a joke riding for Endura last season. Photo©Martin Williamson

All that remained was for us to have a word with Mr. Lines:

“We rode the first lap steady, but going in to lap two someone rode into the back of me and tore off my rear mechanism, I thought that was the end of things.

“The service car stopped for me but there was nothing they could do, with the rear mech broken off and the back wheel broken there was no point.

“Jane Barr was out watching the race and she said to me; ‘take my bike!’.

“It was a 48cm frame and my knees were round my ears but I plodded on and then got a tow from a car; I saw the bunch ahead as we approached Letham and I got up into the convoy.

“When you’re back in the bunch the adrenalin flows and you get your race head back on so I just kept going — but I did three-and-a-half laps on a 48cm frame.

“After the race there was a lot of chat about how I had got back on; I went to the commissar and explained what had happened and withdrew myself from the race — the commissar accepted what I had said, but then there was all that stuff turning up on the forums.

“What happened wasn’t my fault and there’s no doubt in my own mind that if I’d been on my own bike, I’d have been right up there anyway.”

So, there you have it, straight from the horses’ mouths. I best get back on with me holiday, ciao, ciao.