By Kris Zentek.
Yes! It was finally time for Team Chronomaster inaugural Road Race!
This was our first venture into hosting a race, and Stephen Feeney took on the challenge with the support of the rest of the team, our sponsors, and many friends and family members. Too many to thank in a race report!
We chose the local favourite course of Bashall Eaves Long, and elected to run a Regional A race; categories 2-3-4, so that would be 5 laps of the 11 mile circuit. We had managed to put together a pretty impressive prize fund for the day and up for grabs were cash prizes, a set of Specialized Turbo Cotton tyres, and a brand new wrist watch!
Team Chronomaster had five riders in the race today; Adam Baines, Craig Battersby, Simon Deplitch, Warren Gell and myself. We are all punchy riders who like this kind of course. For me though, the last time I did Bashall long was several years ago and I had no recollection of it. So I spent most of the early morning getting various opinions on it, and talking to the team about tactics.
The conclusion was that it was a hilly/rolling course with short/long and shall/steep climbs, and some draggy bits, and lots and lots of potholes. There was a long shallow climb after the finish, a long shallow climb about half way round, and some downhill bits inbetween. It was also fact that the last two races here had finished as a reduced bunch sprint. Before the briefing we got together as a team and formulated a plan;
“Kris and Adam go with the breaks, Craig and Warren to cover the moves, and protect Si for the sprint finish”. Simple enough…
….and we’re off.
After the rider briefing we rolled out of HQ. The neutral section was pretty long today, and it was a great opportunity for the five of us to lead the bunch out. In a refreshing change of pace, the lead car led us out at a very relaxed speed, and not the 300-400 watt strung out line that some lead cars do. We got past the finish straight and the lead car sped off…flag down. The bunch were tightly compacted, with five TC riders spread across the front. I decided I’d give it a go, and attacked.
30 seconds in I heard a voice in my ear “get on my wheel Kris!” and Warren powered past in his familiar time trial position. Now we were a two up, and looking behind, no-one was chasing. Into the climb we went and soon the bunch were out of sight. As we neared the top, We were joined by three others – Matt Langridge, Steve Fidler, and Tom Hanlon – three very strong guys. This was a very good break to be in, and had it been a flatter course I’m sure we had what it took to stay away. But Bashall is anything but flat.
As fast as we become a group of 5, we were down to 4. Warren suddenly went into reverse. I later found out that he had broken a stem bolt, and was forced to retire after less than 1/2 lap. Bad luck Woz, and thank you for the tow! We set a pretty fast pace that was taking it’s toll on Tom, and he eventually lost contact. We were down to three as we rolled across the finishing line to begin lap two.
We continued to press on, and eventually Steve also lost contact with us. But this didn’t matter too much, as soon we were reeled back in by the bunch. But we could see that the chase had done a lot of damage to the group, with around 25-30 riders left in the bunch. Now the hard work started…
I said earlier that it’s rare for a break to stay away on this course. More typically it’s a race of attrition, with more and more riders falling off the back either on the climbs, or from the several tight junctions that cause splits. Today was no different, and my tactic for the day changed to survival mode. Adam, Craig and Si were in the front group, and Craig took to the front; “Kris, get off the front – let me do the work”. I was happy to oblige and I recharged the batteries.
In a bid to prevent any counters, Craig pulled like a train on the front for a good lap and a half. I tactic that worked really well, as everyone else sat in. I spoke to Si and he felt good, happy to cover any moves that went if needed. His goal was to get to the last half mile and bid for the win. It was down to Adam and I to cover the moves, but Adam was starting to suffer. I told him to get up to the front, which he did, and he settled in behind Craig.
After Craig had burned his last match he rolled to the side and other riders took up the reins, and then the fun began. the group was still 25 strong…too big for some…and so the war of attrition began. With every climb, every corner, and every tricky descent there were bursts of acceleration. More and more riders lost contact, and this kept going deep into lap 4. By this point, Adam was one of those casualties and he had packed, and after a particularly fast lap, Si had emptied his tank also – despite him claiming that it was because he didn’t want to write the race report! (the honours usually go to whoever had the best result in the race…).
I was the only rider from TC left in the front group – now around 14 riders, as we crossed the line for the penultimate lap…
After the line, and round the left turn, the group of 14 realised that this was it. Everyone else was out of the race. This caused a brief moment of calm and the pace eased. Mistake. Two riders attacked up the hill, and the chase was on. From here to the line, it was now a case of chasing down the relentless counters. This took it’s tool on me and I was distanced from the group.
With the group 10 seconds up the road, the Commissaire drove into the gap, followed by the Medics, and the neutral service. I gave everything I had to stay in contention, managing to keep the gap to a minimum to the top of the climb. At the top I took a breather for a few seconds, and dug deep to sprint back past the vehicles and re-joined the back of the group. BIG relief.
Thankfully, the pace eased a bit. I can only assume everyone else was feeling like I was – at least I hope they were – and saving some energy for the last uphill half mile to the line.
The finish on Bashall Eaves long is pretty technical. A fast twisty descent down to a double lefthander over a narrow bridge, straight into a very steep, very short climb. At the top, the incline eases to a more gentle ramp all the way to the finish line.
I was ready for the sprint to start at the bridge and as I followed the line I gave it everything up the hill! But to my surprise the sprint didn’t start – I had to brake to stay with the bunch (looking back, I should have just gone for it there and then!). The group bunched up. From the front, the pace quickened, but the surge didn’t happen, and I followed the wheels moving up. Eventually bums here out of seats, and the sprint started. I was really surprised that I was passing riders left and right – the day must have been as tough for everyone else.
Up front I could see that Matt Langridge had a gap, and he celebrated a well deserved win. He’d been strong all day. I rolled in on fumes in 6th place, disappointed I could not do better in our first ever home race. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and had I been able to do it again, I would have had a different strategy for the day.
- Matt Langridge – Planet X – £150 Momo Wrist watch
- Jude Taylor – Team B38 – £80
- Alistair Thomas – Sportcity Velo – £60
- Joe Bowers – Buxton CC – £50
- Ben Trippier – Maxxis 4 Racing – £40
- Kris Zentek – Team Chronomaster – £30
- Oliver Huszar – East Lancs RC
- Simon Bridge – Manchester BC
- Freddie Jagger – Cycleways
- Martin Woffindin – Secret Training
Prize draw winner: Andrew Sedgewick – Rutland CC – Specialized Turbo Cotton Tyres
Normally I wrap things up with a quick thank you to the organisers of the race, but seeing as this was our race I think it would be good to dig a little deeper into just how many people give up their own time (and often money) to make grassroots racing possible.
Team Chronomaster are blessed with having some exceptionally supportive sponsors. Without their help we wouldn’t be the team we are, or get to use the top end equipment we use. Today was no exception.
- Leisure Lakes Bikes took time out of their very valuable day to provide neutral service, looking resplendent in their liveried van. Thank you guys!
- Specialized UK were very kind to donate a top end set of Turbo Cotton tyres, worth just under £120. These were put up for grabs in the free rider raffle.
- Napthens, a local firm of Solicitors, were extremely generous and contributed £250 towards today’s prize fund, which was gratefully shared between the riders placing 2nd to 6th place.
- And last but by no means least, Neil Wood – owner of Chronomaster Wristwatches, donated a Momo Designer watch worth £150 as the prize for the winner of today’s race. Huge thanks to our team manager, el honcho, the grande fromage!
The Marshalls & The Motorbike Outriders
A lot of people are needed on race day to make sure we are all protected from the dangers of the open road. Every junction, twist and turn needs to be manned by the army of volunteer accredited marshalls, and a bunch of friends and family members. On the worst of days this can be a truly miserable affair, but today the sun was shining which hopefully made for a good day. We want to thank everyone who helped today – some of whom had travelled a long way to be here.
Thanks to all of our friends and patrons from Bolton Lads & Girls Club; Stephen Pritchard, Tony Brierley, Mark Brocklehurst (and his whole family!), Mark Parsons and Julian Ferrier. Dan Isherwood (thanks for stepping in at the last minute!) Even the legend Cal Difalco made an appearance! Couldn’t have done it without you all!
The team from Mersey Medical Services did a great job covering the race today too. Thank you also to British Cycling Officials Dave Cockram, Alan Roper and Adam Newell for all of their support and advice.
The Support Staff
Where do we start? There are so many people who helped out this weekend…
- Mark Brocklehurst and family for sorting out the finishing area.
- John Myburgh (who arrived at 6am) for putting out all of the road signs, and organising the marshalling duties.
- John Myburgh, John Bamford and Mr Deplitch (Si’s Father) for driving the lead cars.
- Warren (after he packed), Adam (after he packed), Jenna Baines (heavily pregnant!), Diane Woodcock and the Brocklehursts for adjudicating the race.
- And who can forget that outstanding spread of food at the finish line! All of the credit, plus our heartfelt thanks must go to the Deplitch clan. Jackie, Si’s Mother and Si’s Auntie, baked tirelessly all weekend to provide the after race delicacies. It was a real treat!
We want to say a special thanks to Ellen our resident photographer. Come rain or shine, Ellen is at every race in the North West, perfectly capturing the essence of our local racing scene. She does this out of her passion for cycling and photography, never has to be asked, and never asks for anything in return (other than a credit). Ellen, we’re blessed that you are there at our races, and we’re eternally grateful!!
And last but by no means least, a huge thumbs up to Stephen Feeney and his better half Karen for taking on the challenge of hosting this race. Months of preparation went into it, and even on the day you were both there at 5:30am making sure everything ran like clockwork. You did a fantastic job, and the race was a huge success!
From all of us at Team Chronomaster, thank you to everyone who made this race a success. This was our first stab at organising a road race, and we will definitely being doing it again. Maybe something bigger, but certainly better!
We welcome any feedback you might have to help us improve for next time. If you want to send us any comments, please send us a message on our facebook page:
See you next time!