Ythan CC hosted Race 1 of the Grampian Evening Road Race Series last Thursday.
The demanding course consisted of three laps of a seven-mile circuit comprising Kinharrachie, Ythanbank, Shire Brae and Ardlethen, followed by a final eight-mile lap around Kinharrachie, Drumwhindle, Shivas and Ythanbank, before finishing at the top of the hill at Kinharrachie.
Riders were very grateful for race organiser Mark Straker’s thorough and professional preparation, with safety cars, support cars and motorcycle outriders in attendance to help ensure that the race was completed safely.
The safety lead car led the 60 riders from the Ellon Community Campus site, through Ellon and down the hill at Kinharrachie in ideal conditions. Once safely onto the straight towards Ythanbank, the flags were dropped to signal the start of the race.
It was an extremely fast race from the very outset, with Ythan rider Lee Smith leading a number of breaks during the first two laps.
As the lead group crossed the line at Kinharrachie to start the third lap, it was the turn of another Ythanite, Alan Smith, to lead a break.
However the ferocious speed of the peloton meant that no break could remain out in front for long, and the riders were caught before the Ythanbank reindeer centre.
The effort of making the break took its toll on Smith, and he dropped behind the lead group as the race sped towards the third ascent of Shire Brae, where he went on to suffer the misfortune of a mechanical failure.
The lead group maintained their rapid pace as they descended Kinharrachie, and then turned right towards Drumwhindle, all the while sticking together, until the kick-up at the top of the hill and the left turn towards Shivas, where the group started to splinter.
The race then descended through the farm at Shivas and over the rumble strips and freshly laid tarmac (only completed hours before the race thanks to Mark Straker’s sterling efforts!) before turning left at the Ythan and heading back towards Ythanbank.
As the riders jostled for position on the straight approaching the climb towards Kinharrachie, there was a touch of wheels, leading to a number of riders crashing and further splintering the lead group.
Unfortunately the crash resulted in two riders being taken to hospital, with Aberdeen Wheelers rider Rob Cowie suffering a broken leg. Everyone at Ythan CC wishes him a speedy recovery.
Ythan’s Andrew Leith was at the head of the race at the finish and contested the sprint. Team-mate Lee Smith, however, was held up by the crash.
The race was won by Struan Pryde of Pedal Heaven in a time of 1:06:27, ahead of Alistair Merry (Dundee Thistle RC) and Grant Martin (Vitus Pro Cycling).
Andrew Leith finished in 14th place (+3.462secs) with Lee Smith in 24th (+31.015).
Alan Smith finished in 34th place (+06:15:8) with another blue jersey, Jonathan Cordiner, in 41st place (+09:34:8).