I’m feeling strangely empty this morning as I type this – the Victoria Park crits are over, and my Wednesday evenings will never be the same again.
First off, I’d like to thank the organizers for making it all happen and I hope that the series will return next year, bigger and better. Whilst there have been the usual complaints that come with closing roads, I think that the majority of Bathites are behind the race. It was great seeing and chatting to people who had no previous interest in cycling, and had just come along to be entertained and to be part of the festivities.
It was also great to see a large Bath Uni contingent make the trip providing some quality heckling and more banter than you could shake a stick at. The monument hairpin was transformed, for a brief few hours, into an impromptu carnival reminiscent of scenes from the big Tours. As a bike racer in Britain, this sort of roadside support is usually only reserved for the pros, and even then, only in the biggest races, so it was great for us amateurs to get urged on each lap. I can assure you, it really helped!
BEST. WARMUP. EVER
Having upgraded to 2nd Cat with my win in the 3/4s back in round 2, it was time to step up to the plate and mix it with the big boys. This didn’t go so well and I ended up just about hanging onto the bunch for an anonymous 11th place in round 3. A bit of a disappointment for sure, especially after the successes of the previous rounds, but a great motivator to get faster for the following week.
Having felt that I was too defensive in my riding in round 3, I promised myself that I wouldn’t be afraid to attack and animate the race this time round. Success in the Elite race very much depends on getting in the right break. With Willier/GoSelfDrive and Adeo Cadence fielding large teams, the race would effectively be shut down once a break had gone featuring at least one rider from each team. With this in mind, I put in an attack on the climb roughly 10 minutes into the race with the hope that a couple of riders would come with me and the bunch would let us stay away. However, to my disappointment, I found that nobody had reacted and I was now off the front with 20 minutes remaining – this was not how I had envisioned my race! There was nothing to do but put my head down and go into time trial mode hoping that a few riders could bridge later on. For a moment it seemed as though I was slipping away, but before I knew it, the bunch was back on my wheel.
The attacks started flying and Mark Perry (Willier), Tav (Cadence) and Peter Johnson (Pendragon) were away. All the big teams were represented - this was going to be the break of the day. No one in the bunch was reacting so I sprinted off the front and tried to bridge up. This took longer than I’d hoped and I spent all of a lap struggling to close those last few meters. I finally made it at the bottom of the climb, but Tav attacked over the top and I had nothing left. The bunch was sufficiently far behind that I was able to cruise in 4th whilst Mark Perry took out the win and overall title completing Willier’s domination of the series. Altogether, I was really pleased with my performance physically, but felt that I had wasted far too much energy though tactical naivety. Oh well, you live and learn.
The following are a great selection of photos from Doug Hall which really sum up the evening’s action.
The Wrecking Crew
From a different view
Nicole on her way to 2nd in the women's race
Finishing things off with a fixie race
Anyone for the pub?
For 5 years, racing was my life and I went all the way from a newbie bonking after 40 miles, to a full-timer plying my trade on the Belgian kermesse scene. Unfortunately, the pro dream wasn't meant to be and these days, you're more likely to find me bimbling about country lanes and sleeping in a bush on the side of the road.