By Kris Zentek.
After yesterday’s torrential driving rain, I’m sure everyone was happy to see a break in the clouds for the second stage of round 3 of the North Wales KOM series. Although the rain had rescinded, the wind had not – a strong easterly was with us on the island of Anglesey, with gusts upwards of 50mph.
The course for today ‘appeared’ to contrast yesterdays, with 1500m of elevation over the 43 miles (three laps). But on closer inspection it was anything but flat. The circuit was a continuous profile of ascents and descents with not a flat bit of road in sight.
Yesterday’s stage was won by George Evans from Team Bottrill, with an impressive solo attack a full lap out. Adam was high on the leader-board, coming in a really strong 13th yesterday after losing touch with what was left of the bunch on the drag up to the finish. Ste and I were comfortably mid table after marshalling the back of the race.
We rolled out of the HQ at on 11am, through the town of Llangefni and onto the climb that took us up to the circuit. As the lead car set us off, we were straight onto a rolling descent and within seconds were at warp speed with attack after attack, the stronger riders trying to take advantage of the blustery wind. From the Strava fly-by you can see the effect that hand on the bunch – riders at the back were being dropped with every kick, corner and rise.
Ste and Adam were at the head of the race, and were very active in covering the moves to try and get in a break that stuck, but with the pace of the bunch and the winds, only a really strong group would manage to stay away. Although there were a few promising attempts, inevitably every attack was brought back.
As we entered the final lap, the field was reduced to maybe 50 riders, and we were all back together. No-one had managed to form the decisive break, and this had resulted in a very twitchy bunch. Relentless accelerations and compressions were taking their toll on many legs, and so when Dan Evans (who had been attacking all day) managed to clip away with Dave Griffiths, there was a brief respite. Soon they were out of sight, and George Evans made an attempt to bridge to them, defending his lead.
Over the remainder of the last lap, other riders tried long bids for glory, but inevitably this caused the bunch to start chasing again. Kris, Ste and Adam jumped on the front to help with the effort to pull the soloists back in. Adam was on our wheels and as we hit a rise he attacked. Ste and Kris did their best to let him get a gap by disrupting the pace of the bunch. A couple of riders chased and a small group of 4 were away. We could see up the road though that fatigue was affecting them, and soon Adam was on his own again maybe 200 yards off.
As we got to the final kilo the bunch accelerated and we soon overtook the remaining stragglers including Adam, who after two days of hard efforts, was spent. Four riders had managed to stay away and the win was contested by Dan Evans and Dave Griffiths, with Dave having the better sprint on the day. George rolled in shortly after, just ahead of Matt Davies from Rhino Racing. The bunch sprint was manic but everyone stayed upright and Kris, Ste and Adam all rolled in with the bunch.
The overall top 10 for the weekend:
1. George Evans – Team Bottrill – HSS Hire
2. Oliver Blagden – Cardiff University Marmots
3. Owen Line – VCUK VELOCHAMPION Racing Team
4. Joshua Curtis – Lovelo Cinelli RT
5. David Griffiths – Mammouth Lifestyle
6. Matthew Davies – Rhino Velo Race Team
7. Dan Evans – Team Elite
8. Daniel Pullen – SunSport Velo
9. Chris Pook – Rhino Velo Race Team
10. Tarn Fynn – Manchester Bicycle Club
Adam, Ste and Kris finished in 30th, 32nd and 37th places respectively.
Overall this was a fantastic weekend of racing. Both days were extremely well organised, marshalled and in some horrendous weather conditions that was no mean feat. It was bad for the riders, but the supporting staff all stood up to the conditions to make sure that everyone was safe from harm. I can’t thank them enough for that!
Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed both races. The wind and rain made it very challenging and I have to say a lot of fun! I’m on my way back to getting fit, and this weekend was a bit of a milestone for me. I’m looking forward now to the second half of the season, and hopefully some finishes a bit further up the leader board…
Photo’s courtesy of Peter Nash.