By Jonathan Fowles.
The Pedal Power road race took place on Saturday near West Calder in Scotland. Whilst cruising to the start line and chatting to a few Ribble riders, it turned out that the course had been adapted from last year and was now 6 laps of a rolling circuit, with fast exposed sections and a headwind uphill drag to the finish line.
This year I’ve seen too many races where the break escapes early on, never to be seen again, and this time I was determined to be in it! My plans were put on hold when in the first few km a crash ahead of me sprayed bodies all over the road; I managed to negotiate the debris and followed another rider to get back to the peloton. Two riders were out front, and using the momentum from chasing back into the group I moved to the front and then attacked.
At this stage my legs didn’t feel so good, I had a gap on the peloton but my progress towards the two up front was slow. A Metaltek-Kuota rider came past me on his way to the two ahead, and I used a small ramp to close the gap onto his wheel and eventually make it across to the leaders. We now had a group of 4, and got in a line (TTT style) and hit the pace as hard as we could.
Towards the end of the first lap our break had grown to seven riders, consisting of two Ribble riders (John Archibald and Will Brown), two Dooley’s cycles riders, the Metaltek-Kuota rider and one rider from The Racers. We had about a minute advantage to the peloton, and settled down to work together and open out the gap as much as we could.
’d like to say that the race was action packed, but for the next 4 laps we just carried on working together and keeping our gap to those behind at just over a minute. The updates from the motorbike were telling us that 12 riders were chasing, but by the start of the fifth lap three had attacked from this and our gap extended so we knew that the race had effectively self destructed behind.
Our pace was hard, and combined with the rolling and windy nature of the course the break was showing signs of tiring. One of the Dooley’s riders had been sitting on, and eventually got shelled out the rear. I found I had an advantage on the draggy uphill stretch to the finish line so I tried to ramp up the pace here just to tire the break out a bit further. Although, I wasn’t so keen when some of the bigger lads started hitting the pace on the downhills!
Towards the end of the fifth lap, John attacked on a fast downhill section. He was the biggest threat in this group and I knew I had to follow his moves! I managed to get across to him, and offered a wheel to stay away from the others, but they closed back in on us. It wasn’t going to be good if our group started attacking each other this far from the finish, and we risked the chasers catching us.
The little attacks continued until we reached the drag to the finish line, I got to the front and ramped up the pace. Turning around, I had John on my wheel and just two others behind him. We reached the top, and knew that we had to work together for as much of the final lap as possible.
We made it to the last few km and John started putting in attacks on the fast downhill sections and out of corners. Each time I would have to push hard to get back on his wheel, and these attacks meant we were now down to three riders as we approached the 1km to go sign.
I attacked with just under 1km to go, and initially opened a gap, but glancing back could see the other rider coming over to me. I eased off the pace, and as he tried to pass me, jumped back on his wheel. I then sprinted past him in the final 50m to take the win!!
I’m super pleased to get a win, and hopefully the legs will carry on working for the rest of the season!