This year, for the first time, the British Cycling time trial championships were moved to June so they could be a part of the British Championships event that was put out to tender along with the Road Race. Glasgow won the bid, and the TT course was based around Stewarton, in East Ayrshire.
I’ve been to a couple of local TTs before but never a national championships, so wasn’t sure what to expect. It turned out to be a fantastic day out.
Callum and I arrived around lunchtime and went autograph hunting as usual, with a new jersey to get signed. With the “golden girls” team pursuit trio of Laura Trott, Jo Rowsell and Dani King present we expected quite a crowd, but the paddock was nice and relaxed.
I think Callum made Elinor Barker’s day when he asked her to sign his jersey – she seemed surprised that it wasn’t just Laura Trott we were after!
We were treated to some typical Ayrshire weather – scorchio! Typically I’d worn a big black wooly jumper. Oops.
We got a great spot at the start where we got a good feel of how friendly all the girls are, with everyone chatting and smiling before putting themselves through hell out on the road. Helen McKay gets extra points for thanking Graeme Herd for holding her up at the start!
One of the best things about these national champs is that some local riders get to race against Olympic champions. As a supporter of my local club, Ayr Roads CC, it was great to see two of their riders represented on the day – Lynne Wardrop and Mark Skilling.
Katie Archibald, who I’d been very impressed with at the Scottish Track Championships (I still haven’t written that blog yet!) last year, was also taking part. I can’t stress enough how exciting it is to see young Scottish talent getting the chance to take on the best of the best.
As we got towards the business end of the women’s race the speeds went up pretty spectacularly and there were some great battles developing out on the course. Lizzie Armitstead had caught Laura Trott on the first lap and looked to be flying, with Katie Colclough not far behind.
Jo Rowsell recovered from a shaky first lap to take the win, her first senior title on the road. Callum somehow managed to beat a flock of school kids to get her autograph afterwards, the jersey was filling up fast!
After grabbing a chippie for dinner and ambushing Graeme Obree we headed back to the paddock for some more autographs.
We’d passed Alex Dowsett on our way back, and after his exploits at the Giro he was our number one target. After our well documented troubles trying to get Sky autographs at the Tour of Britain we were slightly disappointed to see him camped out in the Sky gazebo.
There was a wee crowd gathered round and I think in the end everyone was too nervous to barge in and ask for an autograph, but if you don’t ask you don’t get. Dowsett, Luke Rowe and Ben Swift were all too happy to sign stuff and all three seem like top blokes.
Ex Kilmarnock footballer Mark Skilling was first off in the men’s event as light clouds appeared and I started to feel less like I was being roasted.
After adding a few names to the jersey we moved over to the finish line to guarantee that we could get a decent view of the finish. With riders still starting this wasn’t difficult and it really paid off.
There was a half hour break before the seeded elite riders set off, which left a bit of a lull in the action. I understand why, but it did slow the pace of the evening down when the crowds were at their largest. Once the seeded riders started it was all a little stop-start as a few of them had pulled out. The crowd focussed their cheers on the amateur riders who were putting in some brilliant times.
Ben Peacock of Paisley Velo was in a podium position for a large part of the evening, eventually finishing 8th. A fantastic effort. There was also drama for Sean Childs of the Royal Navy. Childs had a mechanical before the race and started on a spare bike, only to puncture out on the course. He then had issues replacing the wheel and ended up borrowing a road bike from a generous spectator to complete the race! He missed his target time by three minutes, but had been powering round on his own bike, so must wonder what could have been.
Once the elites were underway the crowds on the finish straight really got huge. After reading tweets and interviews from the riders, it sounds like they were as impressed as I was!
There was an audible gasp when it was announced Dowsett had crashed a couple of miles after the start, seemingly the result of some tyre issues. He was bleeding and sporting some nasty looking road rash as he came through to finish his first lap – just seconds up on last year’s silver medallist Matt Bottril.
The drama was to intensify as Ben Swift joined Bottril in posting very strong finishing times, and with Dowsett injured nobody was sure how he’d cope on the second lap of a tough course. In the end he managed to keep it together and came up the finishing straight with a 20 second lead on Bottril and Swift, leaving him time to raise just one arm in celebration as he crossed the line.
That brought to an end a great day out. The organisation was first class and did the area proud. We were treated to a world class competition in a beautiful setting with a course that showcased south west Scotland’s great racing roads.
Congratulations and thanks to everyone involved!
The rest of my photos are on Flickr: