Easter Parade

words and images:The Press Room

Fastest Man in the World: John Archibald

John Archibald brought a touch of UCI European Tour glamour to the Borders village of Eddleston on Easter Sunday as he broke his own course record and handed out a near 5-minute beating of second placed, and local rider, Grant Ferguson.

In the women’s race, defending champion Lynsey Curran could do nothing against Catriona MacGillivray, just back to racing after having a baby last year, but it was Vicky Smith who made it another successful trip home to pick up the Tour of the Meldons Trophy…with only 12 seconds separating her from the RT23 rider.

AeroCoach's Vicky Smith takes the title by 12 seconds

Sunday was the warmest day of the year so far but the women, off first, had probably the best of the weather conditions. The sun was hazy and the breeze light to begin with but as the morning progressed, the temperatures rose along with the wind. The men especially reported that it was a strong headwind on the run down the valley from Whim to Blyth Bridge.

The Tour of the Meldons, organised by Juli Rourke and her team of helpers at Edinburgh Road Club, often suffers from poor road conditions coming so soon after Winter, and while there were potholes and rough patches in places, the Shiplaw hill itself had been newly resurfaced and was very smooth.

Catriona MacGillivray is back! Grant Ferguson powers up the Barony Castle finishing straight.

Up at the top we waited on the first rider and it was the host club’s own Lucie Hrnickova who was first to come passed. Lucie was looking good and this type of effort will see dividends back on the track in her role as tandem pilot. Her time of 1.11:18 saw her finish as the fastest woman rider from ERC.

Starting just four minutes later was Teri Bayliss (Muckle Cycle Club) and her time of 1.12:17 saw her take the prize for first woman vet. Lucie’s time was standing until Katie Priester (Glasgow Nightingale CC) came in just under half a minute quicker and this would keep Katie on top for ten minutes until the faster women began to arrive.

Catriona MacGillivray (RT23) was absolutely flying, so much so, than when we first spied her through the long lens we assumed it was her teammate Aileen Clyde, off two minutes ahead of her. Not so as she sped by us at our favourite spot atop the Shiplaw and she went on to set a superb time of 1.01:29. Ordinarily, this would have seen her take the win but Vicky Smith (AeroCoach) was also tearing up the road and would eventually take the title by a mere 12 seconds in 1.01:17, a superb tussle on this very hilly course.

Defending Champion Lynsey Curran finished in 3rd.

Lynsey Curran (Dooleys Cycles), off last as defending champion came home in 1.04:25…an excellent time but she couldn’t hold off the challenge from Vicky and Catriona. This will develop into a season-long battle for titles and honours…a battle that could see the titles being shared around between them.

Juli’s race always has a good supply of prizes and the first woman vet over 50 prize went to Stirling BC’s Katherine Wren in 1.18:08, the first woman on a roadbike category prize to Katie Priester in 1.10:51 with the woman’s team prize going to the RT23 pairing of Catriona MacGillivray and Anna Fairweather in a combined time of 2.10:21.

Unusually for this race there were no junior riders to finish so the first male rider to pass us was ERC’s Karolis Dedura, desperately shouting for an allen key as he went by. He’s recently joined the Edinburgh Road Club and was riding in a non-club skinsuit. The Commissaires have discretion to allow non-team strips but there was a significant number of riders who competed out of their club colours, with quite a few in very dark skinsuits, that a decision was taken to exclude their times. This would cause an issue for last year’s defending champion as we’ll explain later on.

Jim Cusick: first vet over 50 and Bioracer-Moriarty Bikes Oliver Murray

There was a healthy mix of TT bikes and ordinary road bikes…but the first rider to come home under the hour was an early starter. Ever youthful Jim Cusick (Dooleys Cycles) was off number 35 and returned to the timekeepers in 58:22. This would see him sitting at the top of the sheet for a considerable time but it was Sparta Breda’s Brian Duncan who eventually topped his time in 58:15.

This would see Brian finish in 9th place overall with the final top-ten spot going to Ali Merry, resplendent in the orange of Dundee Thistle, finishing just 3 seconds later.

Now we were into the fast guys and it was a lucrative day out for Bioracer-Moriarty Bikes rider Andy Bruce. A seatpost mix-up meant that he opted for his road bike and he put in a blistering time of 58:08 to take 8th overall, first vet rider, first male rider on a roadbike and one third of the best male team of the day…ka-ching!!

Ka-ching!! Lucrative day out for Andy Bruce!

Just 8 seconds ahead of Andy Bruce was RT23’s Ewen MacGillivray, also back to racing, who finished in 58:00 dead. David Griffiths (Bioracer-Moriarty Bikes) and Gavin Shirley (Dooleys Cycles) had a ding-dong battle throughout the race and both riders finished with a time of 57:27. Who could go quicker?

A mis-entered digit initially saw Carse of Gowrie’s Andrew Underwood awarded second prize overall but when the figures were checked and rechecked by top timekeeper Mhairi Laffoley he was found to have finished in 4th spot with 56:35. He’s a top bloke and took it in his stride.

World Champion and World Record holder Rob Friel

Rob Friel (Bioracer-Moriarty Bikes) is a world champion and world record holder but we were just glad to see that he had a sensible skinsuit on this year as he finished in 3rd spot overall in a time of 55:57.

What is it about top mountain bikers that makes them so good at time trialling…or is it just that top time triallists make good mountain bikers? Current Scottish Hill Climb Champion, and local rider, Grant Ferguson (Hope Factory Racing) bettered Rob’s time by 17 seconds to finish in 55:40 but it was the UCI Europe Tour rider John Archibald that everyone was watching. The fastest man in the world was tearing up the course and would eventually tear up his own course record by finishing just shy of 5 minutes ahead of Grant Ferguson…a superb result considering the hilly nature of the Meldons circuit. John Archibald’s time of 50:42 was simply electrifying and his mum has already posed the question of whether he can get below 50 minutes next year…not a bet we’re likely to take given the fact that John is still getting quicker.

UCI Europe Tour and the Jim Wright Cup: some famous names on there!

The team prize was taken by Bioracer-Moriarty Bikes in a total of 2.51:32 (Rob Friel, David Griffiths, Andy Bruce), the first vet over 50 was Jim Cusick and the first ERC rider was Alan Dean in 59:54.

We mentioned earlier about team skinsuits and defending champion Wilson Renwick (Velo Schils-Interbike RT) was to fall foul of this rule and have his time excluded. He thought he’d complied as far as he could with the rules by trying to have a skinsuit as close to his team colours as possible but unfortunately there was another rider on the day in the same colour of kit and this had the potential to cause confusion. It was decided to exclude all riders not in club colours…it’s in the rule book and until Scottish Cycling opt to revisit that particular thorny subject, that’s the way it’ll stay. It’s not a great situation for anyone, rider or commissaire.

John Archibald brought the glitter to Eddleston, courtesy of Ribble Pro Cycling!

And so it was back to Eddleston for the prizes presented by Kathy Gilchrist as everyone enjoyed the sunny day, the cakes and tea and another very successful running of the Tour of the Meldons. A big shout out to everyone who came along and especially to all those that took up marshaling duties and helped to return another fantastic time trial over this course.

Gallery over on Facebook with more images to come