Neil Taylor wins Stirling Bike Club's Battle of the Braes Road Race

Tuesday, 23rd August, 2011


Neil Taylor of Edinburgh Road Club won the Battle of the Braes Road Race today. The race, which started in Callander and was run over a 57 mile course, took in four ascents of the "Braes of Greenock" climb. In this, the race's 2nd year, the course had been altered to finish at the top of the Braes of Greenock, rather than on the "Mini Braes" near Thornhill, meaning only the strongest would be victorious. Open to 2nd, 3rd and 4th category riders, and with a generous prize fund supported by Stirling Bike Club, it was sure to be a keenly contested.

A break of five riders got away early in the race, taking a lead of 20 seconds through the heavy road surfaces along the Lake of Menteith road. Two Endura/Pedal Power riders, Jordan Stokes and Dougie Young, were joined by Jason Roberts of Glasgow Wheelers, Craig Holmes of Glasgow Nightingale and Lindsay Gordon of thebicycleworks.com.

They led the race during the first long loop around Port of Menteith, Arnprior and Thornhill, and began the first of three and a half shorter laps with some 30 seconds advantage. These short laps took in four ascents of the Braes of Greenock' and 'Mini Braes' climbs and it would be a stiff test to stay out front to the finish. The first time up the Mini Braes saw points on offer for the King of the Mountains competition but after the first climb up the Braes of Greenock, the break was already being reeled in. At this early stage several riders were dropped- the tough course and high pace, which was harder than in 2010, proving too much.

The second time up the Braes of Greenock saw more King Of The Mountains points available. Veli-Matti Raikkonen of Granite City RT took 4 points, followed by Tom McDonald of Lomond Roads, with ex-escapee Jason Roberts adding to his tally. With the KOM prime coming only two thirds of the way up the climb, other riders put the hammer down to try to establish a split and Neil Taylor of ERC got an advantage. Leading solo at the summit he eased back slightly, but was joined by Richard MacDonald of Stirling Bike Club, and the pair began to work together. They stayed in front for a further lap, establishing a lead of 1 minute 25 seconds at one point. At the  KOM prime on lap 3, Taylor took 4 points and with them the overall King of the Mountains prize.

After 3 full laps of the Braes circuit, the breakaway pair began the Mini Braes climb for the fourth and final time, ahead of the summit finish on the Braes of Greenock. At this point MacDonald was running out of gas and urged his breakaway companion to go for the win. The gap was down to 25 seconds and it was now do-or-die for Taylor, who had to press on alone. The Edinburgh rider had recently returned from a stay in the Pyrenees where he had secured a start in a local race up Superbagnères. He hoped that this Hors Categorie climbing would pay off in the hills of Stirlingshire. 

Behind, the 2010 winner, Ali McNicol of thebicycleworks.com attacked the chasers, stringing out the remainder of the bunch, but was not able to maintain a gap and bridge to the leader. MacDonald was caught and ahead Neil Taylor held on for victory, but with his advantage crumbling he crossed the line only a few seconds in front of Tom MacDonald of Lomond Roads who took 2nd. Veli-Matti Raikkonen of Granite City RT completed the podium.

Top 10
1. Neil Taylor Edinburgh Road Club 
2. Tom McDonald Lomond Roads CC 
3. Veli-Matti Raikkonen Granite City RT 
4. Tim Blathwayt Veloclub Edinburgh 
5. Andrew Whitehall Glasgow Wheelers 
6. Scott McCrossan Endura/Pedal Power 
7. Alastair McNicol thebicycleworks.com 
8. Roman Bardzik Granite City RT 
9. Tommy Murray Glasgow Wheelers 
10. Jordan Stokes Endura/Pedal Power 

KOM Neil Taylor

Image by Owen Philipson




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