Cold Dark North Road Race, by Joe Bowers

Cold Dark North – Oakenclough Road Race – AKA Pain and Suffering

Jon and I lined up for the first proper road race of our seasons on Saturday – a 70 mile National B race on the tough, hilly Oakenclough circuit. I can honestly say it was probably one of the toughest and most attritional races I’ve ever done. When I arrived at the HQ Jon was already there and geared up. It was a cold, damp morning with threatening rainclouds, perfect for six and a bit laps of the circuit which featured a significant climb with ramps >15%. The finish was at the top of the climb on the seventh ascent; ideal for a non-climber such as myself. The difficulty with the course was if you were distanced on the climb you only had a short section of false flat with a cross-headwind to chase back on before the descent. If you didn’t get back on before the descent it was race over.

Strava Link to the Oakenclough Climb Segment: https://www.strava.com/segments/1005108

Soon I was in the village hall sat nervously and worrying about various things; have I got enough clothes on? Have I got too many clothes on? Do I have enough food? How are my legs? In the briefing the chief commissaire went through the usual things but emphasised two about the poor state of the course. Apparently there were large potholes on several corners and we were advised not to take the racing line and ride on the other side of the road on a section of the descent to avoid the holes – great.

I rolled out on the wheel of Ian Bibby from JLT Condor and that was pretty much the last I saw of him until the podium presentation after the race! The bunch stayed together comfortably until the first ascent of the climb and then the race just exploded. I found myself pretty much at the back in the second chasing group consisting of about 20 riders. Jon meanwhile was near the head of the race. On the second lap he attacked with James Gullen (JLT) and Jack Pullar (Canyon Eisberg) but this got pulled back. Shortly after the winning move featuring Ian Bibby (JLT) and Matt Holmes (Madison Genesis) went on the approach to the main climb. Jon tried to bridge but didn’t make it and was reabsorbed by the peloton (or what was left of it).

Meanwhile I was in the second chasing group which was working reasonably well together. Eventually we made the bridge to the first chasing group featuring Jon on lap 3. The main bunch now was about 25 riders with about 10 riders up the road including most of the main protagonists. After a brief discussion with Jon we summarised that my legs were fudged and I just wanted to get round and finish. Over the next few laps I clung on to the main bunch from which, with every ascent of the climb, people were getting shelled out the back. On the penultimate climb Jon, who was clearly the freshest left in the group, pulled out a gap and decided to ride solo for the last lap in an attempt to get over to the breakaway.

Jon stayed away and picked off a couple of dropped riders from the head of the race and rolled in for 10th place. On the final lap after the descent a rider chipped off the front of my group and I followed him. After an exchange of words we worked together and managed to stay away securing 13th and 14th for me. The last 8km of the race was torture, all uphill, 2-up into a headwind with shattered legs. The final climb to the line was such a grovel, I could barely see and only just kept the pedals turning. Although it doesn’t sound that impressive I was pretty chuffed with 14th place when you consider the nature of the course compared to my riding characteristics.

Congratulations to Ian Bibby on a good win and to be fair well done to all the finishers on what was a very tough day out. Finally thanks to Cold Dark North for organising the race (please move it back to Capernwray next year!) and to Ellen Isherwood for the great photos.

Link to my Strava File for the race: https://www.strava.com/activities/1481994820

Ellen Isherwood’s photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/100713057@N05/sets/72157694359688404

 

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iMann Easter 2-day, by Craig Battersby

WHAT. A. RACE.

Don’t get me wrong, Pimbo, the Frank Morgan Memorial, Salt Ayre etc are all fun events but they’re hardly bike racing at it’s finest. Real attacking full-gas racing up big hills, knocking lumps out of each other like boxers POW POW POW, that’s what racing is about for me, Liege – Bastogne – Liege style, not Prudential Ride London… really shitty weather adds a bit of spice to the fight.

So for an enjoyable and fun Easter Ste and me (and team Batto swanny, Tricia, bag man Ethan and leg-licker Buster) headed to the cold frozen North where they all talk funny and eat weird stuff, but fortunately they have HILLS.

 

The iMann 2-day is a stage race based out of Stamfordham, using circuits previously used for the Border 4-day organised by the lovely Maureen Bain R.I.P., a race that’s greatly missed. The iMann / Blumilk team put together two fantastic 65 mile stages, day 1 using the Ingoe circuit and day two using the fearsome climb of the Ryals, amongst others.

Ste and me met at the HQ in Stamfordham at 8am, race start was scheduled for 9:30am but due to the ‘interesting’ weather the UCI Fowl Weather Protocol was being enforced and there was talk of delaying the start, or possibly cancelling the race. It had been a bit of a rough drive from Team Batto’s digs but I really didn’t consider it that bad, however, I have experience of racing there back in the day, at the Borders, with Randle, Tanner, Butler etc, names that would strike fear into the hearts of any riders back then and not only that, trying to hold their wheels in white-out conditions riding sideways due to the wind in single vehicle wheel-tracks in snow just hoping you didn’t hit ice, or in some cases hoping you did. Old skool hard knocks. In these days of litigation and H&S it’s not the done thing to let 60 blokes on 23mm tyres go and race in the snow so the Commissaires deliberated while the riders put on every piece of clothing they had in their bags.

Stage 1:

10am start- the Comms declared 30 minute delay so the race got underway at 10am. At 10:02am my Garmin ejected from my newly purchased super-lightweight mount never to be seen again, so no STRAVA kudos or KOMs for me, old skool. On the plus side my bike was now a few grams lighter- bonus!! Today’s circuit was 12 miles long and we covered 5 and a bit laps.  A Blumilk rider had attacked and stayed clear for most of the first lap, after he was caught there was a sprint for the first time up the KOM climb and then a slight breather so at that point I attacked, with about 55 miles to go.

I hadn’t actually missed having my Garmin up to this point, after a few minutes of going fairly hard I realised I didn’t have any stats, no HR, no Watts, no distance, nothing. I did have time checks though- first one 40 seconds, half a lap later – 1 minute. I took the second lap KOM points, having been clear for about 15 miles now and definitely more than a little concerned that there was still 40 or so miles to go and no sign of anyone joining me. Fortunately half a lap later Alastair McNicol (Dooleys Cycles) and Eugene Cross (B38 Underpin) joined me and we cracked on working well together.

I knew Alastair, having raced against him early last season at Castle Carrock where we raced in equally shitty weather, and again both made the break. I knew he was strong and we’d have a good chance to stay away, Eugene was unknown to me but I quickly realised he was very strong. The time checks were now coming down, so unfortunately the bunch hadn’t cracked. At one point I glanced back after a left hander and could see the bunch approaching the corner, it seemed we were sure to be caught. The three of us were clearly of the same mindset though, each of us responded and we buried ourselves for the next lap in the hope the bunch would crack, and start looking at each other rather than a co-ordinated chase and that’s exactly what happened. With one lap to go we had over a minute and the gap was increasing – happy days!!

Alastair had been missing turns and going up the main climb announced he needed to sit-on, I made sure he wouldn’t be contesting the finish so it would be between Eugene and me. Unfortunately it didn’t really play out like that… Alastair did miss a few turns, but not that many and if I were him I certainly wouldn’t feel obliged to take 3rd place. He obviously felt the same approaching the finish as he checked with Eugene and me- “no objections to me sprinting eh?”, neither of us could honestly object. It had crossed my mind several times to attack but given this was the first stage and my objective was the overall GC I didn’t want the bunch eating into our lead, now well over 1 minute.

So we approached the finish and the sprint started, Alastair took the win…

Stage 1 results:

Stage 2:

So yesterday’s ‘bad weather’ had all the riders dressed in every piece of clothing they could find, this is the scene as I drove to the start of stage 2….

Amazingly, on arrival at the HQ there wasn’t even any suggestion of delaying the start!! This time the Commissaires decided to drop two laps from the race, making it 45 miles and twice up the infamous Ryals climb. Initially I was disappointed on hearing this, I figured if we could race 45 miles we could race 65. I spoke to Eugene and Alastair and they felt the same, we also chatted about tactics but no plan was hatched- neither Eugene or me were happy with 2nd and 3rd on GC so we were never going to race defensively.

Everyone kitted up and headed out, it had stopped snowing but waiting on the line for the off was blisteringly cold. After just a couple of miles Alastair joined the constant attacking and went clear, very unusual for the race leader in a stage race to go on the attack! He was pulled back quickly, shortly after this we hit a stretch of road with craters down both sides, I hit one of the bigger ones and my right brake lever shunted down the bars, this had the knock-on effect of pulling the cable causing my brake caliper to pull-over and all of a sudden I was riding with my rear brake on and nothing I could do about it!! I drifted to the back and put my hand up for service, the mechanic who jumped out couldn’t understand a word I was saying, either because I was high on adrenaline, shivering from freezing my nads off, or maybe it was my Bolton accent?? Anyway we got there in the end, re-centred the brake and straightened the lever and I shouted to give me a tow as I set off. It took a couple of miles at 40mph right on the bumper but I returned to the bunch, which from the back I could see was now getting much smaller. I had no idea how long we’d been riding, how far we’d done or what distance to go, what I really wanted to know was how far to the Ryals. I gave up after asking a few lads and just concentrated on staying up front and close to Ste. We’d talked before the start and Ste had a plan- he intended to smash it up the Ryals the first time in an effort to thin down the competition, both Ste and me can climb so this was a sound tactic.

We hit the Ryals and the situation was three lads away with a gap of around a minute, Ste turned on the gas as soon as the climb started proper, Alastair and Eugene immediately moved up and I was on their wheels, I wanted to see if they showed any sign of struggling as next time up I planned to go for it.

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Over the top and Ste had succeeded, Alastair, Eugene, a couple of others and myself had got clear. Unfortunately having the top 3 on GC away in a break together the obvious thing happened- we each didn’t give it 100% in an effort to watch each for the inevitable attack. We were caught by a small group of chasers and these lads had the motivation to chase the three up the road. We descended on the twisty circuit all lined out switching from gutter to gutter, unusually this is where the decisive moment of the race occurred. On one of the little rises/corners Eugene opened a gap, not huge but considering we were already going full gas it was worrying, about 50 metres. Alastair immediately started chasing – he only held the GC lead by a few seconds. I helped but glass-cranked a few turns, Eugene was holding the gap and I could see Alastair was going full gas to get him back. I offered Alastair a few words of encouragement as we swapped turns – “this is your race to lose Alastair”, he put a huge turn in and the moment he moved for me to go through I jumped and got across to Eugene. The situation at this point was the three lads up the front had around 45 seconds on Eugene and me, and we had around 5-10 seconds on the small chase group with race leader Alastair chasing hard. Eugene and me made it up to the three chasers after only a few more miles having put substantial daylight into the gap behind, we now had around 20 miles to go (I think!) and one more time up the Ryals.

Eugene had everything to gain at this point, he was now race leader, I had moved up to 2nd so we formed an alliance and worked hard! The other lads were obviously happy to allow us to bury ourselves but to be fair one or two did do a few turns. My thoughts now turned to how to get rid of Eugene, he could obviously climb well… We hit the Ryals and we both went hard, the group split to pieces but over the top we were all together, probably due to the headwind.

It was now just a few miles to the line and my chance of taking the overall was getting slimmer, I put a dig in on a rise, being a bit cheeky just as Eugene went for his bottle. Unfortunately the other lads were racing for the stage so weren’t keen to let anyone get away. We were now on the final couple of miles to the line, Freddy Jagger (B38/Underpin) jumped clear and held it taking the win by a few seconds from Eugene and the rest in our group, I rolled in 7th and happy I’d raced hard and put maximum effort into trying to win the overall.

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I finished 2nd on General Classification, Eugene Cross (B38/Underpin) took the win and Alastair McNicol (Dooleys Cycles) 3rd. Huge congratulations to both and I really enjoyed the brilliant aggressive racing!

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GC

Thanks to Darran Moore for most of the shots above.

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Also thanks to Jack Earl and Andy Hindmarch for images.

Congratulations to the iMann organising team, you’ve put on a great event and I will definitely be back next year!

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Town Green Masters Race 2 – Report

By Simon Deplitch.

If we had a game of Top-Trumps with world tour rider cards and you had Marcel Kittel and I had Mark Cavendish, who would win…. well the answer is it depends. All road races are different, many variables determine the outcome; the parcours, rider form, equipment / mechanicals, crashes, number of teammates etc. These factors also provide a ready list of excuses when you don’t do as well as you hoped.

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So let’s start at the end, in my race yesterday (the super-codger) 50+ Town Green Masters Road Race I came 2nd i.e. not as well as I hoped. I could refer you to the determining factors above and provide excuses in some categories but I’m not going to do that. I was out-sprinted by (Marcel Kittle) Andy Bennett (Onimpex Bio Racer RT), who knows what he’s doing when it comes to sprinting – well done that man.

The preceding laps of the 6 lap / 80km (ish) event went something like this…. 3 laps for following John Agnew (Lune CC) ‘stringing out’ the bunch, followed by 1 lap of various attacks / attempted breakaways. I did a large share of the chasing but was marked on each occasion. Eventually John and Tony Lowe (Team ASL-Bolton) gained a gap.  Once I saw their lead starting to increase I made my move to bridge, being joined by 2 others, then 2 more, resulting in a lead brake of 7 taking the bell for the last lap. We worked well together to gain a reasonable gap on the bunch. On the finishing straight Karl Smith (Bott Cycle Team) opened up the sprint, I followed coming off Karl’s wheel looking for the line, just as Andy did the same to me getting the draft ‘slingshot effect’ to take the win….. timing is everything, until next time.

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Top 10 as follows:

  1. Andy Bennett
  2. Simon Deplich
  3. Karl Smith
  4. Kevin Chadwick
  5. Steve Davies
  6. John Agnew
  7. Anthony Lowe
  8. Sean Smith
  9. Carl Finney
  10. Alan Forrester

Many thanks to the organisers for a fantastic event, and thanks to Ellen Isherwood for the photies!

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Town Green Masters Race 1 – Report

By Stephen Feeney.

At last! After a frustrating few weeks I finally got my 2018 season off to a start!

Bad weather had forced the cancellation of my races thus far this season but the freezing temperatures and snow had given way to altogether more spring like conditions and the promise of a race under clear blue skies.

As spring like as it looked though, clearing the ice from my car before leaving home and the temperature gauge showing a disappointing 1 degree,  reminded me that it was still March!

I arrived at the HQ in Rainford just behind teammate Kris Zentek. It was great timing on our part as we grabbed the last 2 parking spaces.

There were 2 races taking place today. Both BC ‘Masters’ (old people) events. An event for the youngsters (40-50 yrs) and another for the over 50s. Craig Battersby, Tony Greenhalgh, Kris and I were in the 40-50 category. Si Deplitch was on his own in the over 50s group.

Craig, Tony and Kris had all put in good performances already this year, as has Si, so we were confident of getting a good result in both races. I had no idea how I was going but hoped to get involved in the action at some point.

As we got ready for the race it dawned on us all just how cold it was. Craig and Si, showing their intent on getting stuck in and having a hard race, braved wearing short pants. I don’t think hard man Tony ever considered wearing anything but shorts. Kris went with knee warmers and I went for full longs, it can get cold in my usual position marshalling the rear of the bunch!

Kris had been quite clear about his race tactics, attack from the off and try and stay clear! He was true to his word and as soon as we reached the course, to complete 7 laps and some 50 miles, he went for it!

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Craig stayed near to the front keeping an eye on proceedings while Tony hovered around the back of the pack with me.

Unfortunately for Kris, he wasn’t able to break free and repeat the feat of a race long breakaway that took him to a victory last year, and was bought back to the bunch after a lap or so.

A flurry of attacks, counter attacks and chases ensued with Craig, Tony and I all being quite active at the head of the field.

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Some way into the 2nd lap I noticed 3 riders gain a small advantage. I recognised one of them as Mark Dziobhan of Lancashire RC. He trains with us and is on great form so I decided to try and get across to them. I managed to bridge the gap and we formed a foursome that soon became 7 as 3 more riders came across including Tony and an old friend and rival Andy Martin.

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We all got stuck in straight away and over the next 5 laps our lead grew steadily. As we entered the last lap we were the best part of 3 minutes clear of the chasing bunch, which was fragmenting under pressure being applied by Craig and Kris!

The course was flat and open, a wind made it tough in sections and this probably discouraged early attacks from the break.

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With around 5 miles to go, and as Tony went through to the front, nobody followed him through! Suddenly, he had a small gap. I rolled to the front and eased off significantly and, as I’d hoped,  the riders behind me sat on my wheel. Tony now had a small gap, he looked back and quickly realised this could be the moment to push on and decided to go for it!

2 riders realised the danger and jumped across to Tony. This meant 3 riders up front with a small gap and 4 chasers behind.

I sat at the back of the 4 man chase group not contributing to any chase. As the 3 leaders pressed on, only Andy Martin seemed capable of putting in a concerted chase and quickly the gap to the front 3 became insurmountable.

The chase group became 3 and with the front group well clear, I decided to try and leave the chase group behind and claim 4th.

I had a good feeling that Tony would be too strong in the sprint for his breakaway companions and he was! He sprinted to a great win!

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I rolled in just behind for 4th while Kris and Craig claimed 9th and 10th so all of us finished in the top 10!

It was a great start of the season for me and great to be racing again with the lads!

It was also a great event organised by Brian Rigby, of St Helens CRC. Brian is a regular, and well appreciated race organiser, and this course was a new one he’d worked hard to get approved by BC.

Many thanks to Brian and his team for all their efforts!

Thanks also to Ellen Isherwood for all the great pictures! Today must have made a nice change to standing around in the snow and cold for hours!

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Evesham Road Race – Report

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!

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Duncan Sparrow / Cull Cup E12 – Race Report

By Kris Zentek.

Kicking off the 2018 season, what better place than Pimbo. The Pimbodrome. The Pimbo world champs. If you ever wanted to perfect the art of slightly turning left for 2 hours, this is the place.

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The 3rd cats had finished their race earlier in the day, and as I arrived the girls were smashing it in their race. the boys E/1/2 race would follow at 2pm, and in stark contrast to last year, the sun was out and the temp was in double digits! This is the first race of the season for quite a few, and so there will be some nerves – but nothing can diffuse this more that a bit of warm sunshine 🙂

Representing TC were new signings for 2018 Tony Greenhalgh and Joe Bowers (their bio’s will be ready soon), as well as myself. I know I am not race fit yet – a month in Australia in Jan/Feb saw to that! But I felt good, I am quite happy with my numbers, and was looking forward to blasting off the cobwebs.

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Race program stated 27 laps with a prime at 18 to go. But when we rolled off, we did a full neutralised lap (which was a bit concerning) and the lap board displayed 22. The corner before the finish straight was down to 1 lane because of roadworks, so I just assumed this was why we were neutralised.

We kicked off, and true to form the attacks started. There were a number of Elites in the bunch, and any attacks they represented were quickly chased down, and it was the counters that had more promise. I was keen to get in a break, and tried a couple of times. Eventually I got in one that looked like sticking, 3 riders up the road that I bridged to on the headwind back straight. We got maybe a 20 second gap and stayed up from for 2-3 laps, before we were chased down.

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A bit later, the more serious attacks started. The bunch fragmented into a few small groups, and I hopped across to the chase group of 7 or 8 riders, with another 3 up the road. We started to work together to catch the others, which we did, and immediately the messing about started. We were again caught within a lap or two.

Tony and Joe started to make their moves in the second half of the race, and were both active in the attacks and the chases. Tony made it into a very promising group and got a bit of a gap, but it too was chased down. As I sank back into the bunch, Joe and Tony stuck to the front, ready for the inevitable bunch gallop.

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Nothing was being allowed to get away, and the laps were ticking down. With about 5 to go, a couple of riders clipped away including YouTube vlogger Cameron Jeffers, and they got a decent gap. But on the final lap they were pulled in, and it was a 70 way bunch sprint – I sat back 🙂

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On the last lap Hamish graham was mid bunch and the pace was high. there was the pinch point that stretched us all out, and the sprint started 300 yards out. I don’t know how he did it, but he raised his arms to take the victory – a very impressive bit of riding!

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Final Results – TBC (*still* not posted at the time of publishing)…

Thanks to Brian Rigby, St Helens CRC and everyone who came to support the race today – marshalls, caterers, NEG outriders – it was a great day, and a really nice, dry, warm start to the season.

Finally, thanks as always to Ellen for the fantastic photo’s that make us all look good 🙂

 

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Posted in Blogs, Results and Reports

Duncan Sparrow / Cull Cup 3/4 – Race Report

By Adam Baines.

Today was the official start of the road race season for Tom and me. It was the Cull Cup & Duncan Sparrow Memorial. After my unsuccessful attempt at racing last week, my main aim was to stay upright!

For those of you not familiar with Pimbo, today’s race was 50 miles consisting of 22 laps of a flat 2.2mile circuit with one prime at 15 laps to go. So, as well as staying upright, my plan was to sit in and shelter from the strong wind blowing down the finishing straight until at least 11 laps to go.

For those first few laps I sat in, mid-pack, while attacks came and went from lots of strong looking riders, all being brought back by a fit and hungry peloton. Even when the real strong looking breaks were attacking I resisted the urge to follow, relying heavily on the anticipated chase which inevitably came.

The prime came and went with no real shake up of the group. A few soft attacks came straight afterwards but there was never any real danger. But with 14 laps to go, just as the peloton sat up, a black missile came screaming past us with a perfectly timed and ferocious attack. I only had time to notice the red Specialized lid and the fluorescent yellow of his Pearson Ferrier socks! It was our Tom.

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He hit the group that hard, he soon had a decent gap and with everyone looking around thinking ‘there’s no way I can follow that!’ 5 seconds turned to 10 and 10 turned to 20. Unfortunately for Tom though, no one followed and he was soon faced with the realisation he was on his own with 13.5 laps to go.

This did me a massive favour though (thanks Tom) because I was then able to move up towards the front and follow any chases with a perfect reason not to do any work in any of the chases.  A few tried to get across but failed when they realised there wasn’t much support. Tom had over a minute on us and I started to think the beast was going to do it!

Unfortunately, there were too many strong lads left behind and Tom was brought back. But with fresh legs and having passed the half way mark, now was the time to let myself get involved in the fun and games. I tried two or three times to get away, I even bridged across to a promising looking break of two, dragging two more riders with me. But the group we were in obviously looked too dangerous. A few more who’d tried to get across dragged the peloton that bit closer, but we still had a gap. Tired from our efforts of getting away, we struggled to get any cohesion and increase our lead so no sooner had we got away, it was all back together.

I then decided to sit in and wait for what I thought would be a bunch gallop. With about 5 laps to go and what seemed like a last ditched effort, 2 lads got away. Again I left the chasing to others and concentrated on saving my legs for the sprint. With 2 laps to go Tom made his way to the front looking to help me out. His power and pace meant that everyone else was happy to let him do the pulling so he ended up on the front, not where I wanted to be just yet so I stayed put. Last lap and the pace lifted.

My race plan had saved my legs and I was confident I had the strength and the energy to stay near the front. The strong wind blowing straight down the finishing straight made me think I didn’t want to put my nose out in it until about 200 metres to go.

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We rounded the last corner and I was about 7th wheel. The sprint hadn’t opened up proper but I stayed put. Then a few lads came flying past from behind and it was on! I knew they’d gone too soon so I got out the saddle and continued to follow the lad in front. With about 200 to go, as the first few lads faded, I pulled out and went for it. I passed 1, 2 ,3 riders but couldn’t quite catch up to the few who’d managed to hold on and I crossed the line in 7th place overall.

As my main aim was to stay upright and keep my wheels in one piece, I’m more than happy with a top 10 in the first road race of the season. Well done to the 2 lads who stayed away and Tom Cornwell who put in a massive final effort and took the win.

A massive thank you to the Marshals and Commissaires for giving up their time and of course Brian Rigby and his team for organising.

Photo credits once again to Ellen x

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