By Warren Gell
It’s nice to support a local club, particularly in the first event they organise. Four of the team were accepted with one reserve. Luckily for us, a couple or riders backed out and our reserve then got in to make up a team of five, for the inaugural Croston Velo road race on the Bickerstaffe circuit. The weather was excellent, with a full field of 60 riders rolling out for the first mile which was neutralised before the inevitable first attack of many.
Karl, George, John, Neil and myself all agreed that we would keep the pace high and measure any attacks, then try a number of counter attacks, to try and force a break.
Lap 1 of 14 saw numerous speculative attacks from various teams. Karl’s first attack off the front gained some ground with 2 other riders. A few slow turns on the front to allow Karl to get away didn’t work for us and they got pulled back. With subsequent attacks from George, Neil and John, the other riders got wise to the pattern and sat on our wheels to stop any breaks.
The pace was high at an average of over 27 mph for 2 hours. As the race entered the last 2 laps, we as a team began to gather and control the front of the peloton and set the pace to ensure any late attacks were cancelled out. Entering the last lap George and Neil set a really high pace resulting in the remainder of the field strung out behind and George getting away. Neil and Warren kept the pace high but allowed George to stay away.
Entering the last mile positioning was key into the last corner and into the final 500m. George was through first with a 10m gap, Neil got a great line through at the front with the peloton hot in pursuit and gearing up for a mass sprint. With 100m to go 10 riders including Warren caught George and had a bunch sprint for the line. Warren secured 5th, George 8th with John, Neil and Karl finishing in the peloton having spent a lot of time on the front and attacking through the race.
A great team performance with strength and control shown from all of the team contributing to two top 10 placings and Warren securing his category 2 license.
Many thanks as ever to Ellen Isherwood, for the pictures