Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Scottish National Road Series, Round 1 – Gifford, Tom Arnstein Wins

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HomeRaceRace ReviewsScottish National Road Series, Round 1 - Gifford, Tom Arnstein Wins

On a bright but sometimes cold and blustery Saturday afternoon in beautiful East Lothian, the Scottish National Road Race Series got off to a surprising start as junior Tom Arnstein beat all the favourites to win; outsprinting tester supreme, Arthur Doyle (Dooleys Cycles).

Arnstein stuck to the golden rule of Scottish road racing — ‘never ignore the early break’ — a tactic which paid off handsomely.

Tom Arnstein
Job done for Junior Tom.

VeloVeritas was there for the start outside the Goblin Ha’ hotel in Gifford — and in case you wondered, the Goblin Ha’ (Hall) was the underground dungeon in nearby Yester Castle, legend has it that Sir Hugo de Gifford enlisted the help of the De’il himself to construct it back in 1267.

Tom Arnstein
John Anderson’s BicycleWorks team have a pro look about them; camper van, squadra bike lineup…
Tom Arnstein
Paulo Rennie and Arturo Doyle, from Dooleys Cycles.

There was ‘devil may care’ racing from Arnstein’s team mate Ray Wilkins as he went on the offensive from lap one.

Tom Arnstein
Wilkins goes early.

We drove against race route and by Bolton, Wilkins and three others had a decent gap.

Tom Arnstein
The lovely church in Bolton, and this afternoon’s blue sky.

Peter Murdoch was there for Team Cycle Lane and — with Wilkins — would spend the whole day off the front; so was Rich Semple (we think) for Dooleys and an Endura.

Tom Arnstein
Peter Murdoch.

We say ‘we think’ because some of the race numbers didn’t match our start sheet printed off from the race web site in the morning, Davie Lines (Endura) was down as number 16 on our sheet but carried dossard 17.

And we can only say ‘an Endura’ because his numbers were covered by his racing cape — we’re not rule book punchers but having no numbers on view isn’t handy for folks like us.

Tom Arnstein
Ed captures and Gillian times.

The second and third time we saw the group they were neat and organised, albeit their gap was slipping.

Tom Arnstein
Neat and organised, Wilkins at the centre of things.

But on the fourth sighting, at Colstoun Mains farm road end, things took a turn for the worst for the peloton as four riders ploughed through the wind and up towards the break — Doyle, Lines, Arnstein and Herbalife’s Andrew Hawdon.

Tom Arnstein
Lines leads the bridging chase.
Tom Arnstein
Nice signage attracted our attention.

Meanwhile we spotted TheBicycleWorks.com’s John Anderson on a secret training run out on the course — we won’t say a word, John.

Tom Arnstein
John (r) gets a few laps of the circuit in, in the company of some pals.

Our fifth sighting was at the sprint prime at the end of lap three — the chasers were up and the break was seven strong, with Doyle now the only representative for Dooleys Cycles.

Tom Arnstein
The seven riders roll through the prime.

At Bolton we couldn’t persuade the lady and her dogs to wait and watch the race — it’d never happen in Flanders.

Tom Arnstein
She’d be fighting for a vantage spot if we were in the Heartland.

We had finally had a positive i.d. on the break at this point — six men now: Wilkins, Doyle, Lines, Murdoch, Hawdon and Arnstein.

There were a few in ‘no man’s land’ but for us it looked all over — especially with chats going on back in the bunch.

Tom Arnstein
Martin gets low to photograph the six leaders.
Tom Arnstein
Arnstein leads the six.

On our seventh sighting on the climb out of Gifford the break still looked good – but two chasing groups had prized free as the realisation set in that the race was slipping away.

Tom Arnstein
The chasers chase, but the first group is out of sight.
Tom Arnstein
The climb out of Bolton.

Prior to our eighth view of the race, we came across our old friend Vik on his new KTM — but I had to take him to task on not having orange and black handlebar tape like the boys at Bretagne-Schuller.

Tom Arnstein
Viktor.

And on the subject of ranting firebrands, John Knox was born in Yester back in 1505 — I think Vik was going down to pay homage, after the race.

Tom Arnstein
Scotland’s version of Daniel Mangeas, Jammy Johnston, kept everyone up to date with the race as it unfolded.

The break looked in control of the situation, riding through and off but with no one giving too much.

Tom Arnstein
The church is left in peace.

Panic was spreading in the groups behind with strong men Michael Nicholson (Flanders) and 2011 winner Robbie Hassan (now with Herbalife) getting involved.

Tom Arnstein
Michael Nicholson stirs things up.

We were in Gifford with one lap to go and surprised to see Robin Wilkins rip through ‘en seule’ as they say in France.

Tom Arnstein
Wilkins en seule.

But Davie Lines was cutting him no slack, as they banked left out of the village, past beautiful old Yester church and on to the climb.

Arnstein looked quite happy at the back, though.

Tom Arnstein
Arnstein leads out of Gifford, but looks very comfortable.
Tom Arnstein
Last year’s winner Hassan chases hard, and doesn’t have time for a drink.

And with the gap still over two minutes, there was no doubt from which six riders the winner was going to come.

Up at the chequered flag — it would be great to finish it in the village, but I g