By Karl Owen
On Friday I headed over as the sole representative of the team for the Holme Valley Wheelers 2 day, my disappointment at not being picked for the Dave Hitchen 2 day team being tempered by the beautiful Yorkshire scenery.
The Friday race was to be a short 50km blast around the kirklees countryside. Taking my usual race tactics after a swift ½ in the pub, I popped down an OTE caffiene gel on the start line. Unfortunately just a few km after the start the race got called off, a car having flipped itself over on the circuit! In an attempt to work off some of the caffeine I went and recce’d the following day’s course with Laura Trott and a few others. Unfortunately this wasn’t hugely successful and a sleepless night was to follow.
The second stage was a TT on the same lumpy 8.5 mile course that would be utilised for the afternoon’s road race. With full TT rigs allowed, I’d purchased a set of Tri bars just a week before to try to reduce the advantage. For most of the previous week I’d been looking a complete divvy on my commute, though my boss was happy that I’d been arriving early!
Only half confident in the aero tuck, and with 40-50mph crosswinds gusting across the course I had initially taken the decision to take things easy and mainly stay in the drops. The thinking being that staying rubber side down was of upmost importance. However as soon as I was out of the gate the red mist descended, and I was quickly tucked up and doing my best Wiggo impression. With a man off at just 30 seconds in front this made for a great rabbit to chase. As he was on a full TT rig however, I’d get very close to him up the climbs, but could see hime powering away from me on the flat sections. The rough surface combined with crosswinds, and quite a traffic heavy course, made for a pretty hairy TT. But as I came over the line I was confident I’d set a reasonable time, well at least one that was faster than my 30 second man!
As we waited on the results at HQ, news filtered through that one rider had come down, gusts + discwheel being a lethal combination. Thankfully he’d had an Army Cycling Union rider as his 30 second man and he had stopped to give first aid. Huge respect to Matthew Cryer (I believe) for stopping whilst no doubt on the rivet. Another female rider had been taken down by a bolting horse, in what sounded like a nasty incident. I wish her a speedy recovery.
I’d managed almost exactly 18minutes on the TT. 14thplace and 50 seconds down on the leader.
A few riders at this point requested their licences back, as they believed the afternoon’s stage to be too dangerous. This seemed much to the amusement of the hardy Yorkshire organisers! “Nesh” I believe was the term used!
As we rolled out for the afternoon’s road race it was obvious the race was going to be one of attrition. I ensured I stayed towards the front as much as possible. A few attacks went up the road, though they were generally bought back in by Catford CC who had a large number of riders in the top 15 and the overall lead. With the lead group already reduced down to around 30 riders at the half way point, David Clarke of Giordana was allowed off the leash, Catford safe in the knowledge that he was a minute plus down. Shortly after 2 Army Cycling Union riders got off the front together, one of whom was only 3 seconds off the lead. Responsibility to chase obviously fell back on to Catford, though they seemed unwilling or unable to do so. The 2 must have caught and pushed on past Clarke as with around a lap and a half to go he was swallowed up by the peloton.
As we took the bell I assessed the situation. Catford were not going to pull back the gap to the 2 army riders, and no one else was willing to do it for them. My sprint isn’t great, so going long was my best hope of a good finish. Figuring that if I could get a gap by the top of the final climb, I may be able to cling on in the crosswinds down to the finish, I nailed it along the tailwind section and into the turn at the bottom of the final rise. Looking over my shoulder as I turned left I could see I had a small margin over the reduced group. Unfortunately the short punchy climb, really didn’t suit my strengths and by the time we’d turned into the crosswind section my gap had been neutralised. I continued to drive on along the final straight, constantly flicking my elbow in the hope someone would come round me. Unfortunately they didn’t until I was swamped out in the sprint. Struggling to keep wheels, I must have let a small gap open up and ended up finishing 20th with a 5 second gap to the group in front.
This resulted in me taking 13th overall on the General Classification. A respectable result, but certainly one I feel could have been better.
- Ryan Perry Army Cycling Union
- Paul Jones Army Cycling Union
- Christopher Fennell Catford CC Equipe/Banks
- Giles Drake Leisure Lakes Bikes.com
- Liam Yates Catford CC Equipe/Banks
- Will Corden Mammoth Lifestyle Racing Team
- Lee Baldwin Champion System VCUK Racing Team
- Ashley Dennis Catford CC Equipe/Banks
- Mark Perry All Terrain Cycles
- Thomas Traviss-Pollard Holmfirth Cycling Club
- Adam Hartley VCUK PH-MAS Junior Cycling Team
- James Moore Welland Valley CC
- Karl Owen Team Chronomaster
- Joseph Clark Team Envelopemaster/Bikeboxalan
- Archie Cross University of Sheffield CC
- Jez McCann Catford CC Equipe/Banks
- Michael Harris HD Revolutions (HDR)
- Ricky Feather Feather Cycles Racing
- Joseph Elwood Langsett Cycles RT
- Edward McParland All Terrain Cycles