40th Tour Of Girvan Race Report

Wednesday 15th April 2009

by Dan Smith
Easter weekend saw the 40th Edition of Scotland’s Premier Bike Tour and also Velo29’s first outing of the Premier Calendar team.
The Givan is a true Classic Cycle Race and the list of previous winners read’s as a who’s who of British Cycling. This year’s race promised to be another great year, with some changes to the course, most notably the final day taking in three 1st Category climbs on the 72mile run-in to Girvan.
The start list included all the Nation’s top team’s, Plowman-Craven, Rapha-Condor, Halford’s Bike Hut, Pinarello and of course, Velo29. 
From Velo29 we had Daniel Smith, Richard Meadows, Simon Baxter, Shane Leadley and joining us from Brittany, France we had Benoit Jouanigot and David Toullec.
Stage 1
The first stage got underway at 11 o’clock Saturday and the initial pace was very high. The first hour saw 27 miles covered on undulating roads, already this promised some good racing.
The sun shone brightly over the Ayrshire roads as we covered the 62 miles of stage one. There were constant attacks throughout the race but none were able to gain an advantage until a group of 7 riders broke free at the foot of the last climb.
Sadly, it is around this time that Simon Baxter was involved in a nasty crash, breaking both front and rear wheels when flung into a hedge at the side of the road following a touch of wheels. A quick change saw Simon back on his bike and he bravely continued to the finish but after only a few laps of that evening’s crit it was race over for Simon, suffering too much pain to continue.
The group of 7 stayed away until the finish where the sprint was won by Tom Murray of Plowman Craven. The rest of the Velo29 squad finished safely in the Peleton on a tough stage with an average speed of 26.4 mph!
Stage 2
A short break and the evening’s criterium was underway. 15 Laps of Girvan’s Victory Park in front of 100’s of spectators.  The crit is always an exciting and tough race where the big teams look to protect any time gains from the morning’s road stage.
The action was underway from the gun and the first lap saw the field strung in a long line around the park. Dan Smith was superbly placed near the front of the race, keenly watching the big names for attacks. After only 5 laps the race was split to pieces, Dan made the split to the front group of 20 riders and they moved clear from the rest of the chasing group. Benoit and David sat comfortably in the Peleton whilst Shane and Richard, exhausted from the efforts earlier in the day, were part of a chasing group a few seconds down on the main group.
The stage was won by Graham Briggs in an exciting sprint finish with Dan finishing just outside the front group loosing only 22 seconds to the stage winner. This excellent ride moved Dan into the top 30 on GC, only 1:40 down on the Yellow Jersey.
Stage 3
The 3rd Stage of the 40th Girvan again started in Girvan but this year finished 30 miles South in the town of Newton Stewart.
This stage was the flattest of the race with only 2 classified climbs but was the longest at 76 miles.
Again, a fast start to the racing and the first 25 miles were ran off in well under 1 hour. A puncture for Benoit at the foot of the first climb was particularly bad luck and despite big efforts to regain contact with the peloton, he spent the majority of the day in a chasing group finishing 20 minutes down on the stage winner Russ Downing.
The race was split to pieces on the long 2nd climb with many big names including National Champion Rob Hayles been flung out the back. Big attacks saw a leading group of 3 gain an advantage of 5 minutes by the finish over the chasing group which included most of the Velo29 team.
Some tough racing saw the day’s average speed at 25mph and the average speed on GC at 25.6 mph. This is one of the fastest Girvan’s on record.
Stage 4
The final stage of this years Girvan was a tough one, 72 miles and 3 first category climbs, one 3rd Category climb and the highest point of the Tour, all in the first 50 miles!
Some tired legs set out from Girvan for the last time and the race headed south towards the first climb of Glenalla. Already exhausted riders were being spat out the back and some big names were losing time already.
The Velo29 squad rode well and maintained their position near the front of the Peleton on the long dangerous decent to the foot of Hadyard Hill for the start of the tough 1st Category Climb.
It was at this point, Richard Meadows finally cracked, after a long weekend of racing Richard popped and after a hard chase for 20 miles was finally mopped up by the broom wagon.
Shane punctured but a fast change saw him soon back in contention, however a terrible crash at the half way point caught all of the Velo29 riders apart from Benoit who rode an excellent race to finish 17th on the final run in to Girvan.
Dan, Shane and David all worked hard following the crash and in a group of 17 riders rode well to get to the finish in Girvan only loosing a small amount of time.
Four of our six riders finished and they were all well positioned on GC. In the team GC we beat some more established teams. This is a strong performance we can build on for the rest of the season.
Some excellent racing, a fantastic weekend of weather and a brilliant first outing for the Premier Calendar team. “We are really pleased with the way the weekend has gone, the riders all gave 100% with every turn of the pedal” commented team Chairman Richard Williamson before getting in the team car for the journey home. “It’s been everything we could have hoped for, a huge ‘well done’ goes to all the riders, it’s been a fantastic weekend which we can build on for future races.”
I’d like to give a big thanks to all the helpers from the weekend who did a brilliant job and also to the organisers for putting on another brilliant Girvan, see you next year!
The next big event for Velo29 is the Rutland International Classic on April 26th; check back for some pre race info and full race report.

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