By Kris Zentek.
Last weekend marked the beginning of my 2016 racing season, kicking off with a crit at the Darley Moor racing circuit near Ashbourne. This is my first year as a 1st cat, and so I’m not longer eligible for my usual early season races – it’s going to be a tough year!
As I arrived at the track, the skies looked really heavy. It had snowed the day before and the surrounding hills were still white capped. There were scattered showers all morning, and as I started to warm up on the turbo at 11:30, the rain started – this was ominous, as Darley is a very fast circuit with a tight hairpin. I got onto the track at 11:45 to get familiar with the turns, and as I rolled up at 11:55, I was told there was a 30 minute delay. Not ideal. So I went back to the car to dry off and stay warm.
At 12:20 I got back to the track and did a lap to warm the legs again. By now, the rain had stopped but the track was wet. At 12:30, we were whistled off and immediately the pace was high. The wind was a strong northerly, blocking right across the back straight. With everyone hugging the far right there was no shelter from the wind, and as we went round the hairpin it was a sprint into headwind to stay with the bunch.
The finish straight had the wind on our backs and the chicane was taken at high speed. Over the line, and very fast into the first turn again. We were to do this 21 more times.
Several solo attacks went but nothing stuck. I elected to stay at the back, and so each time we hit the hairpin, it was an effort to stay on. Each lap, more riders lost touch, but I kept on the wheels and stayed with the bunch.
Around 5 laps from the end, a small break of 4 got free, chasing a solo leader. I was still at the back of a reduced bunch now, and riders were getting tired. Through the hairpin we were now strung out, and about 10 wheels up, someone lost touch. Those behind went to get past him, but as he was swaying he caused us to slow up. A gap had formed.
Three of us tried to chase on for a couple of laps, but to no avail. The bunch were too fast and on 2 laps to go, I packed. I’m not fit yet, so I wasn’t too bothered. It was a good race to get my legs back. I stayed to watch the end, and a great win for Jacob Tipper – part of the 4 man chase – who took the line with a well timed sprint out of the chicane to finish strong. The bunch were never more than a few seconds behind, and the solo leader had been out on his own for a while, rolling in 5th – bad luck, so close!
I handed my number in, packed the car up and headed home to get ready for my first road race the next day – the Pimbo world champs hosted by St Helens CRC.
- Jacob Tipper – Pedal Heaven
- Andrew Magnier –
- Joseph Elwood – Langsett Cycles RT
- Adam Kenway – SportGrub Cycling Team
- Daniel Bigham – Planet X – Northside Cycling
- Jake Womersley – Pedal Heaven
- Jack Escritt – Raleigh GAC
- Benjamin Manfield-Yorke – The Nab Racing
- Tom Neale – Planet X – Northside Cycling
- Matthew Clarke – Pedal Heaven Excel Academy
- Andy Bishop – Andy Moore Autocentres Racing
- Jordan Reed – Bike Box Alan
- Ben Joughin – Pro Vision Cycle Clothing
- George Bartlett – KTM Impsport RT
- Peter Hitt – TBW Bottecchia Wigmore RT