Pedal power all the way for riders in Reivers Road Race
The collective colour chart of the peloton lit up local roads last weekend as Berwick Wheelers once again played host to their annual Reivers Road Race.
Contrary to recent prevailing weather patterns, it was clear blue skies and pleasant temperatures that greeted the competitors as they amassed in the pretty Northumberland village of Etal, a welcome relief to those in the field who had battled dismal conditions in East Lothian just a fortnight previously.
For its fifth incarnation the race maintained much of the format that has made it such a popular event with riders and spectators alike. Added to the route last year, Allerdean Hill retained its place as a mid lap leg tester, but the biggest change centred around Ford Bank; so long the race’s defining challenge it would now also provide its final act, with the finish line moved from Hay Farm to the lower steep slopes of the intimidating climb.
Furthermore, the addition of a King of The Mountains and Prime Sprint prize meant that for those signing on the start sheet there was more to play for than just their finish position
With a total field of 120 riders across the day, containing representatives from many of Scotland and the North East’s strongest cycling clubs, the competition promised to be fierce and intriguing and it did not disappoint.
The category 3 and 4 riders were first to do battle, all eager to bag points towards advancing their British Cycling race licenses. Having been so successful in recent editions, including a clean sweep of one of the podium last year, keen eyes were focussed on the representatives from GS Metro and they once again proved to be prominent in the outcome.
Over the course of 40 miles, an attacking race saw a whittled down group of around 20 riders arrive at the foot of Ford Bank for the final lung busting uphill burst. Emerging at the head of affairs was Roddy Weir of Muckle CC, another of the North East’s most active racing squad’s, gapping his pursuers in the closing meters and holding on to roll over the line victorious.
Teenager Thomas Prentice took second place for the aforementioned GS Metro, with teammate Ellis McCoy in fourth, sandwiching Matthew Warhust of High Peak Cycles RT in third.
The top five was rounded out by local rider Hamish Carrick, who not content with one high octane race, quickly refastened his shoe straps and lined up again for the second act of the day, the category 2/3/4 contest.
With an additional 20 miles to be negotiated, and the higher calibre of the field, this race was to initially be a more cagey and circumspect affair, though this did little to reduce the ferocious pace of the bunch. Ultimately, when the decisive break came, the strength of the riders involved meant that they were not to be seen by the main field again, and the finishing positions became a whittling down process as all round power told.
Three riders were to stamp their authority on proceedings in the final lap, with the Oxford farm road, and its accompanying headwind, ending any cohesion between a further trio of pursuers.
Always to the fore in this event, including tasting victory in 2016, Veloclub Edinburgh’s Scott Wardlaw was again successful in animating the race and arrived at the finale in the heat of the battle for the win.
For him, however, it was not to be, as Calum Gray of Dundee University Cycling Club (DUMRCC) powered away up the finishing slope, cresting the toughest part of the rise with enough time to sit up and savour his triumph. For Wardlaw there was consolation in a well earned second place, whilst a successful day for Muckle CC was rounded of by Sam Davies, crossing the line in third to complete the podium.