Saturday the l2th of June saw the first stage of the second annual Tour of Moray. Despite the pouring rain and less than perfect conditions almost all the one hundred riders turned up eager to face the challenge.
Margaret Ewing the local SNP MP flagged off the race at a civic ceremony in Elgin town centre. At ten thirty the bunch rode the neutralized section through the town and out towards Miltonduff.
The riders got off to a brisk and eventful start to the race. Within the first few miles one man abandoned the race and two others were involved in a minor crash but still managed to continue.
The first stage took the riders through the moors and mountains of Moray, giving them four sprints to compete for. At Dallas Martin Lonie of Team Active Office was first, followed by Bill Hart of Aberdeen Multisport/Scotoil. Derek Finnegan won the Oak Hill sprint for Ireland and second place was taken by Andrew Wright of Sandy Wallace cycles. Both Prime sprints three and four were taken by Martin Lonie of Team Active Office. At the front of the field the riders worked well together, sharing the work evenly. For most of the race there were three groups, the leaders, the bunch and the smaller group off the back. The field was very active with a number of sprints and breaks throughout the morning.
The race finished out side The Cottar
Hoose in New Elgin at 12.55, approximately fifteen minutes before
schedule. Derek Finnegan of Ireland took first place making him
the race leader with a time of
The riders finished tired and wet but mainly happy. The majority of the riders enjoyed the course despite the weather. They said that the excellent police protection made them feel safer and that they were pleased with the high standard of organisation.
Stage two of The Tour of Moray left Moray Leisure Centre at 6.00 p.m. on Saturday night. The rain was still pouring but the riders were raring to go as they sat on the start line.
The rain caused some minor problems for the riders as the surface water made the course slippery. There were also some patches of flooding beside the RAF base at Lossiemouth.
Despite the bad conditions the race moved on at a steady pace. There was one early abandonment with in the first half-hour of the race. Further down the road there was a three-rider crash which resulted in one man being taken to hospital to get stitches.
There were two main groups for most of the race, the nine breakaways and the main bunch. Once again the riders worked well together each taking their turn at the front of the group. There were three sprints in this stage, at Hopeman, Forres, and Edinvale. Peter Murdoch of Scotland won the Hopeman sprint. Irelands Paul Healion won the Forres sprint while Jim Murdoch of Team Active Office won the final sprint at Edinvale junction.
After a late attack by Gareth Sheppard of Wales and Jim Murdoch of Team Active Office, the whole field regrouped for a sprint which was won by James Grifflths of Wales, from Willie Gibb of Johnstone Wheelers and Martin Lonie of Team Active Office. That changed the overall position with Martin Lonie taking over at the top, fractionally ahead of Derek Finnegan of Ireland and Bill Hart of Aberdeen Multisport.
After stage two Scotland was winning the team competition with a time of 12.27.06. They were closely followed by Wales with a time of 12.27.33. In third place was Mid Scotland CA with a time of 12.28.51.
The third stage of the Tour of Moray started at 10 oclock on Sunday the 13th of June. The riders departed from the Moray Leisure Centre and were happy to see that there was no rain.
The riders deneutralised on Lossiemouth road and within only a few minutes of doing so several riders decided to make a break. McQueen and Murdoch gained an eight-second lead and succeeded in drawing out the field and quickening the pace.
Todays stage was more tactical with each team trying to bluff the others. Only half an hour into the race the leaders had a 1 minute 27 second gap, which the pursuing teams managers wanted to see reduced.
With the time gap between the leaders and the bunch increasing by the second the main bunch seemed to be uninterested. As the race was becoming more spread out the team managers started to converse with their riders, once again showing that the race was becoming more tactical by the second.
Martin Lonie from Team Active Office, who was in possession of the yellow jersey, needed a wheel change. The Scotland Team used this to their advantage and started to quicken the pace of the race. In Aberlour there was a two-man crash which knocked both riders off and locked their bikes together. While one man continued, Hans Forhaug was sent to hospital. From there onwards the race resembled a horse and cart, the leading men pulling the bunch onwards. The riders were very active with no distinct groups staying in place for any length of time.
The third stage was won by Peter Murdoch of Scotland with a time of 04.12.24. Inches behind him was Gareth Sheppard from Wales who was followed by Willie Gibb from Johnston Wheelers with a time of 04.12.50.
Todays team winners were Scotland, ahead of Mid Scotland and Glasgow United. This made Scotland the overall team winner. The overall General Classification winner was Derek Finnegan from Ireland with a time of 08.21.06. Only one minute behind him was Peter Murdoch from Scotland with a time of 08.21.07. The third placed rider was Gareth Sheppard of Wales with a 08.21.12. The 3rd/4th Category winner was Graeme Jardine of Aberdeen Multisport. In second place was Simon Smith from Mid Scotland followed by Kevin Murray of Midlothian Race Team. Paul Healion from Ireland was the overall points winner.