Trans Scotland Report Day Five

With the third special stage done and dusted in a derby of blood and full on hardcore bike action, t

To The Wire

With the third special stage done and dusted in a derby of blood and full on hardcore bike action, the race for the Chain Reaction Cycles TransScotland (Powered by Merida Bikes) crown is still wide open,reports Matt Skinner in the sixth of his daily reports...

Special Stage Three
Mabie forest
Total distance:10km
Climbing: 300m

Followed by:
Linking Stage 5
New Abbey to Moffat
Total Distance: 65km
Climbing: 1,450m

Following a blustery and wet night under canvas, the riders awoke to the prospect of yet another day beginning with a team relay special stage and a full-bodied linking stage. The day's itinerary saw the riders first tackling the bermalicious fast singletrack of Mabie forest in relay, then a progressively more physical linking stage from New Abbey to Moffat, via Ae Forest for more much-welcomed singletrack distractions before the final grunt to 280m and an easy spin home to complete the 65km stage. But for some, that easy spin home was very much a long way away as they gridded up first thing for the third and crucial special stage...

Using the same format as the first special stage in Drumlanrig, where riders raced in relay, riders selected their strongest climber to tackle the first 5km of climbing who would then handover to the team's strongest descender for the last half of the course, which was mostly downward. Those competing solo would tackle the full 10km without any such help.

From the off the time trial snaked on smooth singletrack and out onto a sustained fire road drag, before diving off steeply and up a prolonged twisty singletrack climb which took the riders to the head of Descender Bender; a descent that, as its name suggests, ploughs downwards on flat-out singletrack with centrifugal berms spitting riders out at maximum velocity. The force of which took a few riders by surprise, flooring them and bequeathing them with bloodied arms as fleshy mementos of their down-time.

After a quick fire-road spin, the first rider then handed over to their team mate who took on a quick upward sprint before hitting the singletrack proper. It ploughed downwards over compressions and breaking bumps, flitting this way and that, before ending in a set of rollers that the wary rolled and the reckless jumped. A smattering of fireroad gave way to raised boardwalk and a switchbacked climb, before the singletrack kicked in once more over roots and rocks, carving itself into an orgy of loose corners and flat-out, pinned precision that would stretch virtually unbroken all the way to the finish line.

Many of the now-familiar names and faces continued to slug things out with their close competitors, each one unwilling to give an inch or let the other gain an upper hand in the overall classification. None more so than in the Scottish Tourism Men's Solo Open Category, where only three riders have even had a look in at the podium. This time only 31 seconds separated them over the whole 10km course, with Fusion Bikes' Mansour Youssef having to content himself with third, just nine seconds behind Andy Barlow (Whyte Bikes), who was himself 22 seconds down on the stage winner, Ben Thompson of Nevis Cycles.

Elsewhere, the pairing of Ryan Bevis and Jonathan Pugh (RAM Bikes/Scott UK) put almost two minutes into their closest challengers, David Preston and Chris Herraghty of the Hoop Troop, in the BeOne Male Category. The leading pair slaughtered the course in a total time of just 30mins and 51secs. The pairing of Andrew Wardman and Steven Halsall (7Stanes) secured third just 10 seconds down on the Hoop Troop to keep the pressure on in the fight for the overall classification.

In the Scottish Tourism Women's Solo Open Category, Meggie Bichard strengthened her lead in the OC by taking the by virtually two clear minutes. Julie Dinsdale kicked into overdrive and dominated the Vet Women's Solo category ahead of Christie Boucher with her first podium, in second place, to depose former Overall Classification leader Tatjana Troll by one minute in the OC. Mountain bike guru and wheelsmith Keith Bontrager himself, although suffering badly from arm pump on the time trial, has put in a solid performance to place him ninth in the Scottish Tourism Veteran Men's Solo Category overall.

Following the finish of the special stage, riders than began the fifth linking stage to take them back to Moffat. Meandering northwards from Mabie, the riders navigated the back roads of Dumfries before striking for Ae Forests fine singletrack, including the Ae Line and some of the choicest morsels of singletrack already familiar to the riders from day three. From there, riders climbed up to around 280m, traversing the flanks of Queesbury hill, portaged through an unwelcome bog, and then finally began the descent into Moffat where the sun beat down hard one minute, only to disappear stage left to make way for a freak thunder and lightning storm, replete with biblical rains.

The rains may have done their best to dampen proceedings but they were short lived. The scorching racing has certainly heated things up and with three of the four special stages gone, things would be hard pushed to get any more close: everything now hangs on the final special stage tomorrow evening, the night time trial at Glentress. Come what may everything will be decided over what promises to be the most memorable special stage of the whole Chain Reaction Cycles TransScotland (Powered by Merida Bikes): the trails are world class and the course itself will mix both the cream of the purpose built trails together with some high calibre natural ones. Add into the equation the spice of racing under the burning power of HID and S-LED lights through the darkness and tomorrow's night stage couldn't be better poised. With things wide open in many of the categories the final standings are going to be decided right up to the wire.

But first, the riders have got to survive the 65km from Moffat to Peebles and its monster 2,100m of climbing, split between three major climbs. It's going to be a long, hard day for the riders, but one that will decide who will be crowned the Chain Reaction Cycles TransScotland (Powered by Merida Bikes) Champion...

Special Stage Three Results

Scottish Tourism Women's Solo Open Category
1 - Meggie Bichard (Extreme Endurance): 40:27
2 - Christie Boucher: 42:22
3 - Helen Lambert: 43:16

Scottish Tourism Men's Solo Open Category
1 - Ben Thompson (Nevis Cycles): 31:05
2 - Andy Barlow (Whyte Bikes): 31:27
3 - Mansour Youssef (Fusion Bikes): 31:36

Scottish Tourism Veteran Women's Solo Category
1 - Julie Dinsdale: 45:54
2 - Tatjana Troll: 48:15
3 - Hilary Bloor (Team Planetfear): 50:53

Scottish Tourism Veteran Men's Solo Category
1 - Rob Waller (ERC One Week Younger): 33:12
2 - Antony Green (G A Cylces/gonebikinmad): 34:36
3 - Shaun Pallister (Mammoth Lifestyle): 36:27

High5 Mixed Category
1 - Maddie Horton & Jay Horton (XC Racer.com/Trek): 36:27
2 - Alice Crook & Neil Hamblin (Cakemonsters): 41:59
3 - Joy Bringer & Richard Morgan (Whitehousecampsite.co.uk): 42:57
Gore Veteran's Category
1 - Bryan Singleton & Peter Strong (Global/Torq/Buff): 35:41
2 - Mario Brunello & Fulvio Damian (Police Team Italia): 37:37
3 - Arthur Rijk & Tim Snyder (TNT): 39:42

Buff Female Category
1 - Julie Cartner & Renel Brennan (7Stanes): 38:34
2 - Sally Lee & Kate Chappell (Extreme Endurance): 45:17

BeOne Male Category
1 - Ryan Bevis & Jonathan Pugh (RAM Bikes/Scott UK): 30:51
2 - David Preston & Chris Herraghty (Hoop Troop): 32:45
3 - Andrew Wardman & Steven Halsall (7Stanes): 32:54

Current Overall Standings
Scottish Tourism Women's Solo Open Category
1 - Meggie Bichard (Extreme Endurance): 33:11:39
2 - Helen Lambert: 33:24:55
3 - Christie Boucher: 33:58:43

Scottish Tourism Men's Solo Open Category
1 - Andy Barlow (Whyte Bikes): 32:45:19
2 - Ben Thompson (Nevis Cycles): 32:47:43
3 - Mansour Youssef (Fusion Bikes): 32:48:07

Scottish Tourism Veteran Women's Solo Category
1 - Julie Dinsdale: 33:44:24
2 - Tatjana Troll: 33:45:28
3 - Hilary Bloor (Team Planetfear): 34:02:31

Scottish Tourism Veteran Men's Solo Category
1 - Rob Waller (ERC One Week Younger): 32:52:01
2 - Antony Green (G A Cylces/gonebikinmad): 32:58:05
3 - Matt Scrase (MTB Marathon.co.uk): 33:01:37

High5 Mixed Category
1 - Maddie Horton & Jay Horton (XC Racer.com/Trek): 33:02:30
2 - Alice Crook & Neil Hamblin (Cakemonsters): 33:17:37
3 - Yolande Wase & John Singleton (Laurel & Hardy): 33:27:01

Gore Veteran's Category
1 - Bryan Singleton & Peter Strong (Global/Torq/Buff): 32:59:40
2 - Robert Barker & Mark Langdon (Sportstest.co.uk): 33:10:28
3 - Arthur Rijk & Tim Snyder (TNT): 33:15:57

Buff Female Category
1 - Julie Cartner & Renel Brennan (7Stanes): 33:27:44
2 - Sally Lee & Kate Chappell (Extreme Endurance): 33:29:57

BeOne Male Category
1 - Ryan Bevis & Jonathan Pugh (RAM Bikes/Scott UK): 32:43:14
2 - Andrew Wardman & Steven Halsall (7Stanes): 32:52:10
3 - David Preston & Chris Herraghty (Hoop Troop): 32:53:16

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