TOUR OF THE KINGDOM
AMERICAN-based Brian Smith (Team Plymouth) made a triumphant return to his native Scotland to win the latest round of the Premier Calendar series, the Tour of the Kingdom two-day race in Fife.
Smith riding for an Anglo-Scot composite team with Chris Lillywhite and Chris Walker made his winning move in the sec-ond of Saturday's two stages.
After a brave solo effort by Colin Langley (Team Energy) failed, Smith took the key stage at Falkland, with its hill-top finish at East Lomond, and then successful-ly held on to the yellow jersey despite the efforts of the Optimum Performance, Gill Airways-Peugeot and Team Ambrosia squads on Sunday's final leg, a 93-mile run that took the field all the way from Leven to Tayside and back.
This last stage was taken in fine style by Team Ambrosia's Dave Williams, with Smith second ahead of Mark Walsham (Gill Airways), Lillywhite and Mark McKay (Team Ambrosia), after Williams had controlled his rivals on the day's main climb.
With Walsham the winner of Saturday morning's 63-mile Dunfermline to St Andrews stage ahead of McKay, Smith and the ever present Paul Curran (Optimum Performance), the main players were soon revealed.
Smith had some impressive backing from Lillywhite and Walker, both former Milk Race winners and former Banana team-mates.
With Smith the winner, Drew Wilson sixth overall and notable performances from Keith Mailer (Scotland), Neil Cameron (Mid Scotland Division SCU), Graham McGarrity (Aberdeen Division SCU) and Andy Matheson (Performance Composite) over the three stages, the home riders had a high profile throughout.
AS soon as the flag was dropped, the action exploded with attack following attack so that by picturesque Loch Leven a leading group of 16 were in command.
All the big teams were represented. Walsham and Holden (Gill Airways-Peugeot) were there along with Smith and Lillywhite (Anglo-Scot), Paul Curran, Drew Wilson and Kevin Dawson (Optimum Performance), Mark McKay (Team Ambrosia) and Aaron McCaffrey (Team Energy), plus Peter Swettenham (Twickenham Composite), Keith Mailer (Scotland), Ray Brownfield (Northern Island), Bill Hart (Aberdeen), Chris Thomson (VC Astar), Jim Eyre (Maltby CC) and Ken Stewart (CC Giro).
All were working as four chasers - John Tanner (Gill-Peugeot), Dave Williams (Team Ambrosia), Chris Walker (Anglo-Scot) and Mark Lovatt (Performance Composite) - came out of the bunch, which was already a minute down.
The four got to within 20 seconds, and that is where they stayed for 10 miles until Walsham and Holden sat up and allowed them to join the lead group, now 20 strong, at Dairsie with 35 miles covered.
After Curran had checked out the new arrivals he quickly launched Optimum Performance into action, sending Drew Wilson up the road.
The Scot was joined first by Holden, then McKay, Curran, Walsham, Smith, Lillywhite and Swettenham.
At Strathkinness, after 41 miles, the rest of the original 20-man break was at 1-23 while the rest of the field fell fur-ther back. On the third climb of the Strathkinness prime, with six miles left, Swettenham dropped off the lead-ing group, leaving seven to fight it out in St Andrews where master finisher Walsham took the sprint from McKay and Smith.
1. Mark Walsham (Gill Airways-Peugeot) 63m in 2-19-32
2. M. McKay (Team Ambrosia)
3. Smith (Anglo-Scot)
4. P. Curran (Optimum Performance)
5. C. Lillywhite (Anglo-Scot)
6. D. Wilson (Optimum Performance) all st
7. R. Holden (Gill Airways-Peugeot) at 18sec
8. P. Smettenham (Twickenham-Composite) at 48sec
9. McCaffrey (Team Energy) at 1-45
10. Dawson (Optimum Performance) st
TWO and a half hours after the finish of the first stage, the riders lined up for the 36-mile run to Falkland with its two-mile hill-climb finish.
After a morning stage run off at 27mph, a headwind on the roads back inland from St Andrews ensured that the bunch remained closely packed.
Eventually, Michael Smith (Middridge CRT) and Richard Moore (Humberside Division) edged away. There was little reac-tion, only Colin Langley (Team Energy) showing any interest as the race leaders were content to mark time before East Lomond hill.
Langley clawed his way up to the duo at 18 miles. In the bunch, the Gill-Peugeot and Optimum Performance teams, along with Brian Smith, were setting the pace as Moore and Michael Smith were dropped by Langley.
Langley plodded on into the wind as Mark Lovatt (Optimum) took up the chase to close the gap, and at Kingskettle, after 24 miles, the two leaders had 35 seconds. But after three more miles Lovatt gave up on pace-setting into the wind, leaving Langley out on his own again.
At the 10-kilometre board Langley's advantage was 1-20 and he could see the big climb in the distance.
He stretched his lead to 1-49 with five kilometres to go as Tanner, Holden and race leader Walsham led the bunch.
It looked as though Langley might hold on as he hit the climb after the left turn past Falkland Palace, but he quickly began to pay for his efforts as the gradient increased.
Even so, with just a kilometre remaining he still had 48 seconds in hand on the rapidly closing chasers.
That is when Brian Smith struck. He burst out of the deplet-ed bunch, dancing on the pedals as Walsham, Curran, McKay and the rest gritted their teeth.
Smith swept past the hapless Langley and, as the Team Energy rider went back through the chas-ing group eventually finishing 40th after losing 2-46 in that final kilometre - Smith crossed the line 16 seconds ahead of team-mate Lillywhite, Walsham, Curran and McKay.
The yellow jersey was Smith's by six seconds from Walsham, with McKay at 11 seconds.
1. Brian Smith (Anglo-Scot) 36m in 1-46-34
2. Lillywhite at 18sec
5. McKay all st
6. N. Cameron (Mid Scotland) at 21sec
7. J. Tanner (Gill Airways-Peugeot) at 32sec
8. Wilson at 36sec
9. Dawson at 39sec
10. G. McGarrity (Aberdeen Div SCU) at 44sec
Overall.- Brian Smith (Anglo-Scot) 4-06-01; 2, Walsham at 6sec; 3, McKay at 11sec; 4, Lillywhite at 21sec; 5, Curran st; 6, Wilson at 41sec; 7, R. Holden at 1-07; 8, Swettenham at 2-15; 9, Tanner at 2-22; 10, Dawson at 2-29.
The 93-mile final leg was domi-nated by the climbs of Stirton, two miles long, after 48 miles, and Glenfoot, almost two and a half miles in length, after 63 miles.
Optimum Performance riders launched one attack after the other, marked by Lillywhite and the Gill Air-Peugeot team, and the bunch fragmented under the pressure of the 40mph pace.
As the race headed past RAF Leuchars and up to the River Tay, Aaron McCaffrey (Team Energy), Andy Matheson (Performance Composite), Graham McGarrity (Aberdeen), Bill Hart (Aberdeen) and Ray Eden (Performance Composite) had opened up a 1-10 lead.
By the time Stirton was reached the five were 2-40 up. McGarrity led on the long climb and was first over the top. Gear trouble set Matheson back on the climb and he saw the break ride away. Eden and McGarrity moved ahead as the rest of the break fell back.
Behind the leaders a chase was now under way with Kevin Dawson, Aaron McCaffrey and Neil Cameron (Mid Scotland) closing fast on the two leaders. On the descent of Stirton the two groups merged and at 72 miles the five were 50 seconds ahead of a 26-strong bunch that included all the top placed riders.
Going over the River Eden the lead group was breaking up with, ironically, Ray Eden the first to go followed by McCaffrey and then McGarrity. Dawson went away on his own as Cameron folded before the four-kilometre board. Then Dawson was caught.
Paul Curran jumped, then John Tanner was on hirn followed by Dave Williarns, who went hard on the left-hand side of the road. The Ambrosia man got the gap - five seconds at the last roundabout - and kept going, looking round to check his progress as he gave it his all.
With a kilometre to go Williams pulled his foot out the pedal, but quickly regained his momentum as he turned on to the promenade a handful of seconds clear of the pack to win, while Smith led in the bunch to ensure the overall victory.
1. Dave Williams (Team Ambrosia) 93m in 3-37-42
2. Smith at 2sec
7. C, Thomson (VC Astar)
8. K. Brennan (Maltby CC)
9. C. Langley (Team Energy)
10. T. Hall (Team Ambrosia) all st.
1. Brian Smith (Anglo-Scot) 7-43-42
2. Walsham at 1lsec
3. McKay at 2lsec
4. Lillywhite at 3lsec
5. Curran st
6. Wilson at 51sec
7. Holden at 1-25
8. Tanner at 2-32
9. Dawson at 2-39
10. McCaffrey at 3-22
11. J. Eyre (Maltby CC) at 3-51
12. R. Bromifield (Northern Island) st
13. Smettenham at 4-12
14. M. Lovatt (Pertormance Comp) at 4-29
15. B. Hart (Aberdeen Div) at 5-19
16. R. Eden (Pertormance Comp) at 6-19
17. J. Moston (Twickenham Comp) at 6-34
18. Thomson at 6-40
19. D. Timbers (Maltby CC) at 6-48
20. J. Chambers (Maltby CC) at 7-26
Sprints.- Graham McGarrity 25 pts; 2, Eden 24; 3, Hart 21.
Teams.- Optimum Performance 23-15-07; 2, Gill Airmays-Peugeot at 27sec; 3, Maltby CC at 13-57; 4, Twickenham Comp at 14-54; 5, Performance Comp at 17-46; 6, Team Ambrosia at 19-52.
David Taylor reports for Snowdon Sports Editorial @ Pictures by Rob Lampard