While the eyes of the cycling world will be on the Grand Départ of the Tour de France in Rotterdam tomorrow, there’s a treat in store for fans in Scotland as the country’s capital prepares to host the second annual Edinburgh Nocturne, with a number of ProTour stars making an appearance alongside the cream of domestic talent.
While last year’s winner, David Millar, will be otherwise occupied at the Prologue in Rotterdam, one of his team-mates, Cameron Meyer, who finished third last year is looking to pull off a double for the Garmin-Transitions side.
“Last year I rode well and finished on the podium after helping my team mate David Millar win the race,” says Meyer. “This year I am hoping for the win and joining me will be my Australian team mate Luke Durbridge who is in some great form. Together we hope to put in a good performance and take a win for the Aussies.”
The Australian adds: “I think the Pro Tour riders for sure will be watched but to me it’s the UK teams which are of more danger in taking the win. They know how to race these circuits very well and are keen to show the pro riders how strong they are. It will be an exciting race.”
Rapha-Condor-Sharp’s Kristian House, who finished second to Millar 12 months ago, has designs of his own on the race, however, and comes into it off the back of some strong performances in the Halfords Tour Series, including a win in Kettering.
“The course suits me quite well” he commented. “It’s a hard course with a good cobbled climb in it. There’s not a lot of rest on it either so it provides a good chance for riders to break away.”
House, however, acknowledges that the ProTour challenge is a real one, citing Team Sky’s Russ Downing, whose brother Dean of course rides for Rapha-Condor-Sharp, as a particular threat.
“As always you have to watch key riders when racing, and I think Russell will be out to win. He's always up for a race”.
Other ProTour stars taking part will include Giro d’Italia stage winner Matt Goss of HTC-Columbia and the welcome sight of Team Saxo Bank’s Jonny Bellis as he continues his rehabilitation following his scooter crash last year.
A tough course awaits them, the riders first climbing up the cobbles to Victoria Street, a right turn onto the George IV Bridge then a hairpin bend right by the Greyfriars Bobby statue takes them down Candlemaker Row, where a tricky left hander at the bottom swings the race back into Grassmarket for a quick circuit round the cobbles and the start/finish line.
And although Millar may be absent, Scotland will be represented in the shape of West Lothian-based Endura Racing, runners-up to Motorpoint-Marshalls Pasta in the Halfords Tour Series, with New Zealander Jack Bauer scoring a fine solo win in the final round in Chester as he team scored an unprecedented clean sweep of the first three places, while Kuota-road.cc rider Andy Tinsley will also be in the field.
They and the spectators – plus the odd passing stag or hen party, given that this is Grassmarket on a Saturday evening – will also be able to keep up to date with events across the North Sea, with the Prologue shown live on a big screen, and in keeping with the Nocturne Series’ by now established format, there will be a full programme of supporting events starting at 6pm before the Elite race gets going at 9pm, with details available on the website.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.