Easter may be late this year, but there was certainly no sign of summer weather in Dumfries. Whilst the rest of the country enjoyed warmth and sunshine, driving rain was the order of the day in western Scotland.
Heavy downpours opened up an hour before the race started, and lasted just long enough to see Matt Cronshaw (Team Raleigh) home as the race’s winner.
The conditions left the riders shivering and numb as they came over the line, and the wet surface combined with the loose gravel and potholes caused by this year’s cold winter to cause puncture-carnage.
As the race rose up the five-mile climb to Wanlockhead, the leading bunch of sixty riders was broken up by the weather and persistent attacking. A group of twenty-five riders shot down the descent with a thirty second lead over the rest of the field.
As the miles ticked down, the attacks came, and eventually eight of the strongest riders coalesced into a break. With Zak Dempster (Rapha-Condor-Sharp), Simon Richardson (Sigma Sport), Jack Bauer (Endura), Ian Bibby (Motorpoint), Yanto Barker (Pendragon-le-Col-Colnago) and Cronshaw present amongst others, the group had representation from the big teams. They stayed away and built a fifty-five second lead by the finish.
Cronshaw attacked early, and timed it well enough to beat the rest to the line. When he hit the finish he had built up two bike lengths advantage, and led Dempster into second followed by Bauer, with his arms aloft.
The youngster had been involved in a crash near the race’s midway point, requiring a bike change as a result, but chased back to the main group before the important attacks on the Wanlockhead climb.
“I was worried about Zak [Dempster] after he won last week [at the CiCLE Classic],”Cronshaw told Cycling Weekly. “I went with about five hundred metres left and managed to hold them off. It got pretty hectic chasing back after the bike change. I haven’t checked out my injuries yet – I’m absolutely freezing!”
The rider’s team will be particularly pleased with the result, as it made up for their team leader Dan Fleeman’s bad luck – he punctured five times in the race, and finished over twelve minutes back.
Eddie White, the team’s Director Sportif described it as “a mixed day,” praising Cronshaw’s win as “an exceptional win on an exceptional day.”
Cronshaw leads the race’s overall classification by nine seconds from Dempster, Bauer took the King of the Mountains jersey, and Cronshaw holds the sprint jersey after the first stage.
Tour DoonHame 201 stage 1, Moffat-Moffat, 91.7 miles
1.Matt Cronshaw Team Raleigh
2.Zak Dempster Rapha – Condor
3.Jack Bauer Endura Racing
4.Ian Bibby Motorpoint
5.Steve Lampier Sigma Specialized
6.Matt Higgins (Corley Cycles-Cervelo)
7.Yanto Barker (Pendragon-LeCol-Colnago) all at st
8.Simon Richardson (Sigma Sport) at 5 secs
9.Marcel Six (Twenty3c-Orbea) at 55 secs
10.Simon Gaywood (Corley Cycles-Cervelo) at st
Overall standings after stage 1
1. Matt Cronshaw (Team Raleigh)
2. Zak Dempster (Rapha-Condor-Sharp) at 9secs
3. Jack Bauer (Endura) at 11secs
4. Ian Bibby (Motorpoint) at 15secs
5. Steve Lampier (Sigma Sport)
6. Matt Higgins (Corley Cycles-Cervelo)
7. Yanto Barker (Pendragon-LeCol-Colnago) all at st
8. 25 Simon Richardson (Sigma Sport) at 20secs
9. Scott Thwaites (Endura) at 1min 9secs
10. Marcel Six (Twenty3c-Orbea) at 1min 10secs
Cronshaw crosses the line to take the stage and the first yellow jersey
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Riders head back to Moffat through the mist and rain
Matt Cronshaw pulls on the green hot spot sprints jersey
McEvoy wins DoonHame stage 2 sprint