Tour of DoonHame: The Big Preview
The traditional Easter weekend three-day stage race in Scotland, the Girvan, has upped sticks and moved to Dumfries to become the Tour DoonHame.
A new location and over 200 miles of all-new terrain face the 120-strong bunch starting with 75 miles on Saturday, April 3. The course looks slightly less gruelling than the Girvan on paper, but a forecast of freezing temperatures and snow showers will present their own problems.
Simon Richardson will be a marked man after winning the opening round of the Premier Calendar, last weekend's Tour of the Reservoir, to mark his first win in Sigma Sport colours. Another new Sigma signing, Tom Murray, led last year's Girvan from the start before dropping out of contention on the last day following a crash early on.
"Yeah, everyone keeps reminding me!" said Murray of his near win. "The crash didn't really affect me. I just ran out of legs to be honest."
Marcin Bialoblocki took advantage and outfoxed the big teams to snatch the victory for Sport Beans-Wilier. The strong Pole will be back in Scotland to defend his title, but a full-strength Rapha-Condor-Sharp squad - including national champion Kristian House - will be looking to control the race after a hard Tour of Normandy.
"It was a pretty tough race," said team manager John Herety. "We were probably more competitive than we were last year, but we still struggled. We are still lacking a bit. For a lot of teams, it was their second or third stage race, so we were playing catch up a bit.
"But we have come out of it a bit stronger, so this weekend we should be able to tell where we are."
The introduction of time bonuses at DoonHame is intended to make for more positive racing. Herety believes it will have the opposite effect. "They have put time bonuses in for the Hot Spot sprints, so Endura and Motorpoint - the two teams with out-and-out sprinters - will want to keep to keep it together."
Make that three teams, says Sigma man Murray. "I think I was leading by two seconds for the first two days last year, so that is better for me."
Mint condition: Murray in yellow, 2009
TOUR OF DOONHAME STAGE RACE
Sat Stage 1: Dumfries-Dumfries (Dockhead Park), 75 miles
Sun Stage 2: Dumfries-Castle Douglas, 96 miles
Mon Stage 3: Dumfries-Dumfries, 81 miles
All stages start 11am
PREVIOUS WINNERS (GIRVAN)
2009 Marcin Bialoblocki (Sport Beans-Wilier)
2008 Russell Downing (Pinarello RT)
2007 Ian Wilkinson (SIS-Trek)
2006 Kristian House (Recycling.co.uk)
2005 Robin Sharman (Recycling.co.uk)
2004 Malcolm Elliott (Pinarello RT)
2003 John Tanner (Life Repair Group)
2002 Not held; funding issues
2001 Not held; foot and mouth crisis
2000 Jon Clay (composite team)
1999 Gordon McCauley (Mens Health)
1998 Jon Clay (Team Brite)
2009 winner Bialoblocki
OTHER NOTABLE WINNERS
1973 Doug Dailey; 1975 Bill Nickson; 1980 Sean Yates; 1981-1982 Tony Doyle; 1983 Dave Lloyd; 1984-1985, 1995 Paul Curran; 1988 Shane Sutton; 1990 Wayne Randle; 1993 Keith Reynolds; 1997 Rob Hayles
Stage 1: Tom Murray (Plowman Craven-Madison)
Stage 2: Graham Briggs (CandiTV-Pinarello)
Stage 3: Russell Downing (CandiTV-Pinarello)
Stage 4: Russell Downing (CandiTV-Pinarello)
1. Marcin Bialoblocki (Sport Beans-Wilier)
2. Andy Tennant (Halfords Bikehut)
3. Pete Williams ((CandiTV-Pinarello)
CW'S SUPER TEAM CHALLENGE
Sigma go into an early lead thanks to Simon Richardson's win at the Reservoir and team-mate Wouter Sybrandy's man of the race five-point bonus. Motorpoint and Rapha are yet to score. Expect a shake-up following the weekend's racing, with three stages and bags of points on offer.
After one event
Sigma Sport-Specialized 19pts
Team Sprocket 12pts
Wilier-Bigmaggys.com-Prendas Ciclismo 6pts
Sigma's Kit Gilham: leading Super Team
For detailed maps, history and the latest start list news, visit the DoonHame's official site
Tour of DoonHame stage race: Official site