Falkirk is home to the top two road racers in Scotland, after Gary Hand finally broke his duck in the national cycling event on Sunday.
It has taken the winner nine attempts to come up trum, but he finally took gold in Aberdeenshire, completing the 87 mile course in three hours, 26 minutes and 55 seconds.
That was enough to outdo his training partner, friend and fellow Falkirk resident David Lines – by just a second.
The commonwealth Games cyclist came second, ahead of reigning champion James McCallum in third, but the winning rider couldn’t hide his delight, and relief, at finally achieving the crown.
“This one was quite special given how often I’d tried to win it, it was brilliant to finally do it,” Hand told The Falkirk Herald.
He’ll now be entered in the British Road Race Championship in Glasgow next month – significant as it will involve a complete road closure around George Square – “so I hope the winners’ jersey will get me that little bit extra support there,” he added.
However the roads of the city won’t be as suited to Hand as the course he cleared at the weekend.
Hand – a fitness instructor by day – prefers hills, and trains with Lines on the roads around Shieldhill, and the steep incline of the Braes, certainly helped in Alford.
“It was a very hilly course, very hard, but that suited me. It was a challenge, the kind of course I like,” Hand said
“One particular hill, the Suuie climb is quite major. It has a 20 per cent incline – it was there I made a break for it and pulled away a bit.
“ I had a 20 second gap, and after that it was downhill and I held on to the finish.”
Lines was a second behind at the finish “half a bike length,” he rued.
“It’s my best result at the race – I usually have different tactics, but these worked.
“I’m disappointed to go so close, but if anyone else could win, I’m pleased it was Gary,” added the MG Maxifuel team rider, who rides a Wyndy Milla bike.
Both Hand, and Lines, are well known through local cycling circuits and train with Falkirk bicycle club on Bellsdyke Road each Thursday.
Lines too was part of the Scottish team in the Commonwealth Games in Delhi three years ago.
“I’ve been cycling for more than ten years now,” explained Hand, who rode alongside his then hero Lance Armstrong when the American toured Scotland.
“I had the picture on my wall for years,” added the 31-year-old. “It’s down now though after what’s happened. He’s a cheat.”
The medal can replace it on display now though, and prove what can be achieved with hard work and perseverance.