Henderson wins 20th memorial race

WITH this being the 20th running of the Nick Hardy Memorial Road Race since young Nick passed away in his sleep on a training week in Majorca in 1993, this edition of the race went back to the formula of the inaugural event.

It comprised an eight-kilometre prologue time trial followed by an 80-kilometre road race for third and fourth category seniors and two, three and fourth category women and juniors. The winner of that first event, Hamish McLean, was in the field again at Monikie on Sunday. Commemorative medals were also awarded to every rider as they were in 1993.

The morning TT started off in cold but sunny conditions with a gradually stiffening northerly breeze throughout the day. This meant a blisteringly fast start on the downhill and flat sections before facing the headwind on the 800-metre climb to the line. As expected times were close with the courage to go flat out on the downhill sections coupled with the ability to climb well into the wind making the difference. James McPake, GJS racing team, was the fastest at 11:39, managing a slender six seconds advantage over Wim Chalmet, East Sutherland Wheelers, and Daniel Halliday, Veloclub Edinburgh. Jenny Stanning, Velocity 44 Stirling, led the women in, with Gemma Neill, Leslie Bike Shop, Right Move Windows a few seconds further back.

With many small time gaps to be made up there were a flurry of attacks right from the start of the afternoon road race, the early ones being shut down quickly by a fast moving field of 78 riders.

After about nine miles, on the first ascent of the climb up to Harecairn TV mast, with the help of the tail wind the bunch fractured and there were at least 20 casualties off the back by the time they crested Lucky Slap and hit the run down to Wellbank village.

From here the side/ tail wind meant that a group of seven managed to build a minute advantage by Newbigging village and made it stick going into lap two of three. They worked well together to maintain that gap all the way to the finish with junior rider Mark Stewart, Spokes RT, being particularly active in trying a solo effort to the line.

It was on the final short sharp climbs up towards Monikie Park that saw this group of seven thin out and as they entered into the park towards the finish line Michael Henderson, Moray Firth CC, managed to pull out a two-second gap on a chasing duo including first junior Calum Foster, Team Leslie Bike Shop / Right Move Windows, with the remainder of the breakaway a few seconds further back. Less than a minute later a large pack fought it out with Peter Anderson, Deeside Thistle, heading the rest of the field.

The first woman home was Jenny Stanning, Velocity 44 Stirling, a further two minutes back.

With his victory on the road being added to a solid TT time, Henderson took the overall honours from Foster, McPake and Halliday. Stanning won the women’s prize.

Nick’s parents Richard and Barbara and his brother Michael were on hand to present the trophy and prizes.