By Warren Gell
Following an early start to the Lake District, the weather promised to be dry and windy of the Cockermouth road race.
As we rolled to the course in the 6 mile neutralised zone, John B, John M, Neil and I had a discussion on our plan. As no one knew the course, we all agreed to have a good look on the first lap at the parcours.
The course was rolling with some 40 + mph descents and rolling drags rather than out and out climbs, with a 3 to 4 mile stretch of B road with well worn tarmac and potholes that was exposed to the cross winds, all of which made the course and positioning very important and challenging.
The first lap was very sedate, everyone had the same strategy, then as soon as we were on the second lap, attacks started to go on the long descent. They were speculative attempts, all of which got brought back by a nervous peloton.
This cat an mouse game continued until Mid lap 3, a local rider from rock2roll cycles and a rider from Horwich got a gap and I felt strong so managed to get across and we started to work and held a slender advantage fro the remainder of the lap, but the peloton were not going to sit back and worked to bring it back as we crossed the start finish line to lap 4.
Another lap of little attacks and short drags on the exposed part of the course, John M had a really good go off the front, but it was brought back quickly, Neil had 2 strong efforts off the front, followed by John B testing some legs on the steeper parts of the course. By this time it was very clear no one was going to get away, John M and I had a little chat in the middle of the peloton, he said you’ve got a good chance of a result, stop doing work on the front. I obliged and had a relatively easy ride for a lap watching the action from about 15 wheels back, protected by John M & John B.
As we started the final lap, I got away again with the Horwich rider, but again it was brought back before the rolling climbs, I had plenty in the tank so on the first punchy climb I had a go off the front and gained about 20 seconds, this continued for a couple of miles when about 8 riders got across and we worked together with parts of the peloton now split into smaller bunches trying to get back on. As we hit the final descent and approached Cockermouth for the final time, one rider made an audacious solo effort with 3 miles to go. The group of 8 sat up, myself included as it was to early to go. This gave the solo rider about 20 seconds but also the peloton had reformed and were working to get back to us on the descent. With 2 miles to go it was clear that the someone had to ride to bring the solo rider back, I knew by doing this I would bring the group with me but it had to be done. A 2 mile time trial to the finish line, the solo rider hanging off the front by 20 metres, now 10 metres with the peloton strung out behind me, the final 50 metres and the solo rider was in touching distance but was going to win, which left a 10 man sprint for places.
I finished 6th, with Neil just outside the top 10 and John B & John M finishing in the bunch. Overall a great team effort and good to get a result on a challenging course.
The marshalling and organisation was excellent throughout, nice to see the 100 metre feedzone and litter collection area, plus the number of people at the side of the road watching.