The Tour Doon Hame emerged from the ashes of The Girvan, which was a 3-day stage race raced from 1968-2009. The race history is still online for anyone not familiar. The Girvan stopped in 2009 due to logistical problems, but the Doon Hame’s first edition in 2010 was a big success.
It’s a big race: the highest-profile event in the UK outside of the Tour of Britain. Cav won a stage in 2004 and ahost of big names have competed: Boardman, Kelly, Robert Millar, Brian Smith. I won’t preview the route in detail but suffice to say it is a very tough, hilly 270 miles around Ayrshire, with big climbs like the Mennock Pass.
Last year’s weather was rotten, and New Zealand Champ Jack Bauer, new boy for Scottish outfit Endura Racing launched a solo breakaway with 15 miles of stage 3 to go but couldn’t quite get enough time out of Rapha’s Chris Newton to take the win. I’m far from a pundit, but Bauer doesn’t seem to have shown much so far this year- either he has been hiding it in the build-up for this race or doesn’t have the same form. Zak Dempster of Rapha has been winning but I don’t know if he’d be suited to a hilly stage race. Ian Bibby maybe? Who to pick…
One of the things that grabs me about this race though, is that some of Scotland’s top amateurs get to mix it with the pros. There are teams from Glasgow Couriers and Velo Ecosse, as well as a composite team of club riders oddly named “Second Helpings”. It’s maybe a shame that Glasgow Wheelers aren’t represented but a couple of their top racers, Dougie Young and Robbie Hassan, are riding with the new Endura/Pedal Power squad. And of course, the organisers must select the best possible field and can only give a chance to a few lucky amateurs.
I asked Craig Adams of new amateur squad GJS Racing for his thoughts. He got a start as part of the “Second Helpings” composite team.
The ‘Girvan’ was a race I always fancied but have never had the opportunity to do. After having a decent start to the year with GJS Racing I decided it was now or never.
I am looking forward to doing the Doonhame and I am hoping to hang in there and finish the race. With such a difficult course it won’t be easy. It will be a privilege to ride along side the highest calibre of riders in the UK, and also some past greats like Magnus Backstedt.
Craig has indeed had a good 2011 so far, taking 3rd in the Dick Longdragon road race behind Velo Ecosse’s Rob Wilkins and Scottish Champion Evan Oliphant of Endura Racing. Wilkins is also riding the Doon Hame as part of a Velo Ecosse team and he shares his thoughts on his new blog.
Rob had bad luck last year riding without backup for Stirling Bike Club, suffering a double puncture on stage 1 and struggling to chase back on after having to resort to neutral service for a spare wheel. This year he will have full support as his teammate Eddie Addis (also a former Stirling BC rider) explained to me:
Looking forward to riding it as part of a Velo Ecosse team with support of teammates, mechanic (and VE owner) Gregor and even a masseuse! Looking forward to getting stuck in with the big boys without any expectation, will be happy to just finish the race, even as lantern rouge! At least I’ll not feel guilty getting stuck into my easter eggs after 270 very hilly miles.
I was impressed by the Tour Doon Hame website- which has tons of info, including lists of the teams, jerseys, riders and key info – it’s worth checking out. Highlights will be on Eurosport next week. Liège-Bastogne-where?!