By Jonathan Fowles.
I kicked off my season at the Evesham road race this weekend. The race was relatively short, at only 100km, and took place on four and a half laps of a mostly flat circuit. The combination of these usually makes for a savagely fast race, not something that I’m particularly suited to! To make matters worse, the start sheet was ominous by the number of professionals, including an ex Pro-Continental rider!
The roads were damp as we rolled out behind the lead car, and I began to remember from last season how cold the starts of races are! Plenty of time to warm up though! The pace was fairly high but nobody seemed to be attacking as we rolled around the first half lap. I tried to move up to the front of the pack, and carrying a bit of extra speed down a small dip I decided it was as good a time as any to attack. I felt fairly good as I bridged over to a lone escapee, and we started working smoothly together. Not long after my, my legs decided they’d had enough and turned to cheese with tinges of cramp. Maybe that was too soon. The peloton approached us and I decided to drop back rather than waste my energy.
After the first full lap, I had a better feel for the circuit, and my legs had even started to feel better after their earlier moment. I planned an attack for a point in the lap that had a sharp left turn leading into a short rise. A few riders were already slightly distanced from the peloton as I approached the corner ready to execute my plan. I kicked as hard as I could out of the corner only to find the lead car coming to a stop and a horse up the road having a slightly traumatic time. The race was neutralised, my attack thwarted.
When the race restarted, the peloton seemed more docile than usual; it took a while for the pace to ramp back up and when it did the attacks became much livelier. I found myself in a small move with two Madison-Genesis riders and Marcin Bialoblocki (the ex- Pro-Conti rider mentioned earlier). If anything would work, surely this would be the one. The peloton brought it back though, and I was pretty demoralised, resigning myself to the back of the pack for a while.
On the third lap, on a different small incline, I tried another attack. I felt good, I pulled out a pretty good advantage, but then a spectator shouted at me “two minutes”. Two minutes! Apparently a break had launched itself away from the peloton and managed to get a two-minute gap without me noticing. My move was reeled in, and there was nothing more for me to do. The peloton raced around the last lap and ended with a bustling sprint, not something I was interested in getting mixed up in.
The first race of the season is always interesting, sometimes eye opening, but it’s a good chance to measure yourself and how your training has been going. I feel like I’m in a good place, and I’m more eager than ever to get racing on a nice hilly course!