Our man Dan Duguid rides for Sigma Sport/Specialized/Sportful and is part of their team challenging for the Premier Calendar Super Team Challenge
This year?s Girvan was looking to be a tough one what with the weather, and coming into it a little off form due to illness, I was a little apprehensive, especially as it was also the first time that I have ridden this race and my first season with the newly formed Premier Calendar targeted Sigma Sport/Specialized/Sportful squad.
Stage one: started well for me. Positioning in the bunch was good and I was feeling good when the bunch was surging. The roads are tough here though, smooth is not a word they understand when building roads in Scotland it seems. The grippy roads make things tough and mean that hiding in the bunch out of the wind still does not mean that you can have an easy ride.
I was hopeful after the first few miles that I would have a good ride today but that all changed too quickly when at around 20 miles into the stage Matt Stephens, our team leader punctured. Matt gave the call on the radio to let us know but the message wasn?t clear on my radio. He told us he had punctured and not to wait, it was the latter part of the message that didn?t come through. I let my team mates know and dropped to the back to wait for Matt.
Riding at the back is harder than near the front. Matt had got his wheel sorted and unfortunately climbed on after giving up the chase. He had started the race with a chesty cough and was feeling its effects. It?s better to pull out than lose more of the racing season sick. Unfortunately I became detached with people losing wheels and learning Matt was out, I settled in for a long day in the saddle with a small group, not how I had hoped the day would go.
Stage two: was a crit around the main park in Girvan. I was a bit frustrated from the morning stage and ignored Matt when he told me to take it easy, after all its only 16 miles. My mistake was there, I rode well positioning myself well and the 45 degree bends that made up the course gave me no problems in a hectic bunch, it?s like a cross race. Giving it a big surge, going after a break 5 or 6 laps in, I went into the red never to come out of it. I finished it 43 seconds back. This was panning out to be a bad day. James Williamson was our new team leader at around 30 seconds off the race leader, Russ Downing.
Stage three: things didn?t get much better. The team woke up and most of us where staring to feel rough, we were all looking like we had caught whatever it was Matt had. It?s hard to stay fit when racing depletes your immune system. Myself, James and Mike where the ones on the ropes. We all started and over the first KOM I was not feeling good, over the second I got dropped with nothing in my legs. Matt was in the car and was telling me to get in the cars over the top. I got in between them and stuck in and managed to get myself back on but things weren?t feeling good.
A little further on I just had nothing on the drags and couldn?t stick near the front. I was moving up but just slipping back. Slipping back too far I dropped off and called it a day. Not the way I wanted to spend my first Girvan but it?s better to knock it on the head and get on top of it for the Tour of the Reservoir next weekend.
Stage four: I rode in the team car with Matt and Jason, one of the team owners. I was the new temporary mechanic for the weekend. James was looking very rough and sweating at breakfast, he didn?t start.
Andy, Mike and Alex started and everything was looking good with the lads hanging in there. But it was all too soon when my coffee drinking was interrupted by Andy having a mechanical. His front brake had become jammed. Jumping out I got him on the road pretty quickly but unfortunately for Andy the bunch was starting to motor when he had his mechanical. Andy rode hard and managed to get himself back on using the cars.
Hitting the final climb it was all still together and Andy positioned himself well, riding up with the leaders. From here on he rode a storming race, attacking the big guns in the race and riding well with them if he went off the front. Matt was shouting encouragement down the radio and giving tactical advice the whole way. It all tallied up to an excellent 7th for Andy. A great ride.
Girvan is an excellent race, well organised and one of the best I?ve ever ridden. It just didn?t go quite to plan for me. Now my attention has turned to the Tour of the Reservoir were I am hoping for a better ride.