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2017 Reivers Road Races

 

Saturday 25th March

 

Race report from Andrew Leigh
 

There was treble joy for GS Metro as they swept the podium positions at an exhilarating and sun kissed Reivers Road Race last weekend. Having tasted victory in the event twice before, the border roads once again proved a very happy hunting ground for the North Tyneside club as they put on a display of collective strength and tactical nous to dominate a high class field.

 

Now into its fourth running, the Berwick Wheelers organised event adopted a refreshed and expanded form for 2017. A tweaking and toughening of the route saw the inclusion for the first time of Allerdean Hill, acting as a secondary sting in the tail following hot on the heels of the sapping ascension of Ford Bank. The biggest change to affairs however, came in the addition of a second race, increasing the number of competitors on the start lines from 80 to 120, and ensuring a full day of action and entertainment for the roadside spectators.

 

It was in the premier event of the day, the category 2/3/4 race, that GS Metro delivered their textbook racing lesson. On the final of three rapid laps of the 20 mile circuit, the team played their hand and created what ultimately proved to be the race’s defining moment. Having gamely ploughed a near solo furrow off the front of the field for the bulk of proceedings, 2016’s winner Scott Wardlaw (VeloClub Edinburgh) found himself first joined by Dylan Hughes of Spokes Racing, and then as attacks from the main bunch unfurled, bridged to by a cavalcade of three GS Metro riders. With former Berwick Wheeler representative and new Metro member Andrew Scorey playing the consummate teammate role at the front of the perusing pack, disrupting the pace and thus the chances of an organised and cohesive chase, the 5 man break were able to power on and establish what it soon became clear was a decisive gap. 

 

From here the numbers game took hold, and, when Metro’s Tim Wilcock clipped away from his breakaway companions, his teammates were able to knock off the gas, look to Wardlaw and Hughes, and invite them to respond. The Edinburgh man and junior rider took to the task gamely, but as Wilcock powered up the rise to Hay Farm to secure victory, his colleagues Zeb Kyffin and Carl Donaldson seized their chance, dropping their two weary cohorts and moving away to claim second and third respectively, celebrating rapturously on crossing the finish and securing a perfect outing for the club. 

 

Earlier in the day, the category 3/4 race also saw one team rise to prominence, with Innes Johnston and Calum Shackleysecuring first and second place for u23 development squad, Glasgow Cycle Team, whilst Tony Fawcett of Newcastle Cheviot CC rounded off the podium. Designed to encourage those who wish to test the waters of road racing for the first time, the morning race took in 2 rather than 3 laps of the course, all be it a barely less blistering pace. 

 

One of those trying his hand at competitive cycling for the first time was Berwick Wheeler Chris Cowe, who showed both his continued improvement and great tenacity by battling around the route to place 40th of the 60 entrants. Warned by club mates that the Reivers Road Race is one of the toughest challenges on the calendar, his maiden voyage in a racing bunch was a revelation – the thrills and bumps of the fast straights, and the gruelling Ford Bank, leaving their indelible imprint as Cowe remarked wryly ‘my heart was at max to stay on the back’.  Pleased to have finished, and with a new found respect for toughened road racers, Chris will hopefully be seen adorning a start number again soon, with his efforts on his debut providing an inspiration for aspiring riders teetering on the edge of making that initial jump into race action. 

 

Keen to leave a mark on their home roads, Cowe wasn’t alone in representing the host club amongst the amassed field. Andrew Waring and Darren Lindsay carried on from their exploits in Gifford the week previously, with Waring taking another credible finish crossing the line in the second chasing group, to finish 17th overall. Unfortunately bad luck again followed Lindsay, with a clash of wheels and ensuing mechanical issue taking him out of the action early in the piece. 

 

On a brighter note, having worked off some rust at Winter criteriums, it was a much welcome return to racing on the open road for another Wheeler, Neil Wilson, who will be looking to continue his upward form curve throughout the summer months to come. The club can be proud to have four current and two former riders racing on what is their trainingturf, one of whom, Hamish Carrick, had made the long journey north from his studies in southern England to tackle his local routes in the kit of new club TBW BottechiaWigmore RT – a decision he consolidated with a solid 19thplace in the Cat 2/3/4 race, rolling in as part of the select pursuit pack side by side with friend and one time team mate Scorey.

 

With wholly positive feedback in its aftermath, the Reivers Road Race has now established itself as a favourite fixture in many club’s calendars, and if next year’s races can deliver the enthralling action and glorious weather of 2017, it’s one not to be missed!