Friday, May 24, 2024

Gifford Road Race 2024 goes to Tom Martin

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HomeRaceRace ReviewsGifford Road Race 2024 goes to Tom Martin

Tom Martin (Wheelbase CabTech Castelli), fresh from a third place in the Clayton Spring Classic, rode strongly to bridge a near two-minute gap to the leading duo of Alex Luhrs and Will Taylor (Moonglu RT) then solo away from them on the final rise to take the win in today’s Gifford National B E/1/2/3 Road Race around the bonny, quiet roads of East Lothian.

Once again the event enjoyed sunny weather, on this it’s 16th edition, Round One of Scottish Cycling’s five-event 2024 Alba Race Series, and with a good field too – 120 riders entered in total, 70 of them riding the earlier 3/4 event which we couldn’t make it to, and which was won by Luke Tamblin.

We’ve previewed the course a few times before, and it remained unchanged for today’s outing; an undulating circuit with around 160m of elevation per lap, none of the rises are particularly taxing but it’s usually windy in this part of the world which would assist riders out the back perhaps more than off the front. The course is safe, fast and tough – not super-tough but hard enough for there to be a lot of casualties with gravity and the wind but not hard enough to let the strongmen have their own way.

It was sad to see the famous Goblin Ha’ Hotel used previously as the race HQ is now closed so the centre of activity today was instead the Gifford Town Hall which had the race pass nine times before finishing just out of town.

Tom Martin
We spotted race winner Tom Martin at the back of the bunch on the rollout. Photo©Martin Williamson

By the time the race came around to us on their first lap Will Taylor (Moonglu RT) was already making his presence felt, on his own and clear by just a few seconds.

Tom Martin
Will Taylor (Moonglu RT) . Photo©Martin Williamson

Despite the sunshine it was chilly and the bunch didn’t look warmed-up enough for the battle.

Still, there was a few flurries off the front which strung things out behind and kept Taylor’s gap small.

The bunch looks cold. Photo©Martin Williamson

It was nice to catch up before the start with pals of our in NEG (National Escort Group), who do a fantastic job keeping the race as safe as possible.

The National Escort Group riders making sure the race proceeds as safely as possible. Photo©Martin Williamson
Gaps open as the tailwind stretches the bunch. Photo©Martin Williamson

By the third lap Taylor has been pulled back in and the race is all together.

Several riders try their hand on the first climb of the circuit and Wheelbase CabTech Castelli’s climber Jacob Smith gives it a dig and pulls a few riders away, albeit only momentarily.

Jacob Smith (Wheelbase CabTech Castelli) leads. Photo©Martin Williamson

A cry goes up as the bunch passes; “Anyone got a nine-mil Allen key?!

Last year’s Alba Series winner Craig Paterson (now with Vanelli-Project GO) jumps off his Ridley to check just how loose his left crank actually is.

The answer; loose enough to mean an end to his day and a less-than-perfect start to his title defence.

Craig Paterson (Vanelli-Project GO) suffers a loose crank. Photo©Martin Williamson

The riders are still on their third lap as we circle back against race direction to catch them again, and now we see that Alex Luhrs is clear, with Will Taylor (Moonglu RT) obviously feeling full of beans and having another go.

Alex Luhrs and Will Taylor (Moonglu RT). Photo©Martin Williamson

Lap Four and the front two pass us on the other significant drag on the circuit, then Tom Martin (Wheelbase CabTech Castelli) is solo and still with his ‘gabba’ jacket is putting distance into the splitting bunch.

He’s got a couple of minutes to make up if he wants to see the front though.

Tom Martin (Wheelbase CabTech Castelli) is solo. Photo©Martin Williamson

We last saw Tom Martin during the World MTB Marathon Championships last August in Glentress, and he’s clearly started this season in good nick with another (he won it last year) podium placing in the season-opening Clayton Spring Classic.

Tom Martin (GB) takes a drink on his way towards ‘The Mast’ in Glentress, UCI MTB Marathon World Championships 2023. Photo©Martin Williamson
Tom Martin
Tom Martin (Wheelbase CabTech Castelli). Photo©Martin Williamson

The bunch pass through the village of Bolton on their fifth lap, and look somewhat defeated as the gap to the break continues to widen and Tom Martin disappears into the distance.

Ross Birrell, previously a GB Academy rider sets off on his own after Martin.