I’ve always had a love hate relationship with pimbo, at 6’4 it is definitely a course that plays to my strengths, but its usually held in less than ideal conditions, hence the hate! After last weeks dnf due to nearly getting hypothermia, i emptied my winter kit drawer into my kit bag, and spent the drive over to the HQ second guessing what i would wear to avoid last weeks disappointing run out! I settled on a skinsuit with a waterproof underneath, aero is everything after all! Luckily the weather gods were smiling on us, and we only really got a tiny bit of hail during the race, nothing like the monsoon conditions of last week.
Over the past few weeks i have had some frustrating races, having good legs but lacking the race sharpness to make it count. 15th at Clayton and getting into a few breaks last week had given me some confidence, so i went into this race with high hopes of some good legs and hopefully a good result.
Arguably, this was the best field i had lined up in so far this season, with a big chunk of the ribble squad fresh back from a training camp, along with a scattering of hitters from madison genesis, saint piran etc. I enjoy races with decent riders, they race in a much more aggressive way, and, for the most part, aren’t afraid to give really turns if you can match them.
The race started with myself, Kris, Joe and Si all in attendance.
Dillon Byrne launched from the gun and as I was feeling good I did think about going with him, but lap 1 was wayyyy too early with 73 miles more to go. Kris and matt holmes were pegged on the front, and as we hit the headwind section on lap 2, they had managed to peg Dillon back. The bunch seemed to stall for a second, with Kris on the front I decided to give it a nudge in the gutter and managed to peel free with Ed Hopper and another Ribble rider.
We worked pretty well together, and i could see it was splitting to bits behind, so i was happy to be in the front of the race, in case some of the stronger riders managed to bridge across. Sure enough, by the end of the next lap, myself, Matt Holmes, Dillon, Si Wilson, Matt Nowell, Ed Hopper and Gruff Lewis had chipped away, and we all set about rolling through and off. And that was it really for 90% of the race, the odd echelon in the wind, smoothly rolling through, we managed to lap the bunch with around 15 laps to go, along with some legend on road skis (god knows). Kris and Si had been doing a great job of disrupting any chases behind, and Joe had managed to chip off the front into a strong chase group too.
Coming into 5 laps to go, the work rate had slowed a bit, but I kept rolling through, with one eye on the back of the group in case of attacks. To be fair, i think the wind played a big part in the lack of attacks, with only a few really happening on the last lap. I was caught in two minds wether to try surf the wheels in the sprint, or to go for it and try get away, but with the firepower in the group, i knew that would be a big ask.
Coming into the final straight, i was pushed to the front, so i sat to the right of the road (opposite from the wind direction). I looked across to see Ed Hopper with all of the others on his wheel in the opposite gutter, so i took my opportunity and opened up my sprint early, in the hope of catching them off guard. With about 20m to go i still had clear road ahead of me, but was starting to tire, when i saw Matt holmes and Si wilson just starting to pull past on my left. Unfortunately there was nothing i could do and they managed to pip me to the line by half a bike length, disappointing, but strong rides from them both meant their results were hard earned.
I am over the moon with a podium place at this race, my previous best being 11th way back in 2015. Hopefully all of the training (and ‘death camp’ in Tenerife) are starting to cement in the legs, and this is a sign of things to come this year
Thanks as always to all our sponsors, we all massively appreciate their support!
Also huge thanks to Ellen Isherwood for the fantastic pictures and braving the weather on an awful day, as usual at Pimbo!