Duncan Sparrow Road Race – 20 March 2016

By Gareth Balshaw

Duncan Sparrow Road Race

It started off with my alarm clock shouting at 7am. I couldn’t help but think of the lads training in Majorca and wondering why I turned down the opportunity to spend a week cycling in the sunshine. You better get top 3 today I mumbled!

After two warm-up laps I was on the starting line along with 70 other rides including two of my team mates, Neil Wood and Paul Beech. Team tactics Neil? “Just try and keep near the front on the last lap”. Easy enough I though, although not quiet the team talk Sky would have but it was a plan!

The race was delayed by a few mins and the sun made a surprising appearance. A lot warmer than everyone expected which was a nice surprise. However Paul did question the winter gloves he was wearing and I must be honest Bear Grills would have been proud of those gloves!

And with those thoughts in my head we were off, lap 1 of 25 (53 miles to go) and I was right at the back. I wanted to keep there as long as possible to conserve my energy. Towards lap 15 I lost concentration and forgetting about my tactics I found myself up in 5th place.

I slowly made my way to the back of the group waiting for the right time to push it. This may not be a sensible tactic on a normal road race as you can easily loose a break-away, however at category 3/4 I haven’t seen a break on Pimbo that managed to stay away so it was worth the risk to me.

With the final lap approaching I pushed hard to get up to 6th place which I felt was a comfortable position to be in. With half a lap to go some riders were really pushing it. I glanced down at my Garmin and approaching the final corner, left before the finishing straight, we were doing 31 mph. By this time I was 2nd place thinking I cannot throw this away, top 3 it must be!

As we came onto the final straight the guy in front of me kicks off his sprint, rather early I thought. Nevertheless I followed and sat right on his wheel while hearing riders breathing down my neck. I knew it was going to be close but how close… then three riders flew past me and I slipped down to 5th.

This is it I thought and I gave it everything, out of the saddle, everything!!! Someone must have moved the finish line I thought. It was getting further and further away!

With 20m to go two of the riders in front of me started fading and I just managed to squeeze into 3rd, with half a wheel! This was my best result in a 3/4 race and highest price money of £40 ☺

Paul and Neil were unlucky to have been caught too far back and couldn’t get closer to front in time. They both finished just outside top 10. Still very early in the season and a lot more points and prize money to be had by everyone.

A really big thank you to all the organiser Brian Rigby and Ellen Isherwood for the great photos as always.

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