The race on Sunday ….well that was an experience. Very cold and very windy….wind chill must have been well into the minuses. However, it was dry and more importantly, the roads were dry. Lots of pots holes on the course (compared to last year). Everyone was a bit worried about them, but they were well marked out on the road and turned out not to be too bad.
Apart from my ‘winter’ tights, I wore two of everything ….. two pairs of gloves, two base layers, two pairs of arm warmers, merino wool neck buff and headband ……. It was COLD.
The cold, windy weather took the edge off the race. The way the course was angled, the wind was either a headwind or coming from the side. There may have been a short 1-2km section where it felt like a tailwind.
The first lap was quite active. A few attempts by various people to go off the front early…all where jumped on quickly (including from myself and Nathan), but they petered out after a few hundred meters.
On the second lap, a small group of juniors got off the front. I was in the bunch now ….about 20 back. I waited for a reaction from the front of the bunch, but nothing happened. The juniors started to get a gap ….. I was slightly boxed in for a good few seconds and realized I missed my chance ……but I also felt that peloton would be able to bring them back ok …. so I wasn’t too worried.
I got back up to the front, but sat second wheel. Nathan made the break, so I didn’t want to start the chase. The gap was getting bigger and we were starting to get time checks from the police motorcycle. 30 seconds was the call and the chase started to get organized – maybe 6-7 rotated the work. I wanted to stay at the front so did my turns (though the first couple of turns were not full gas). The gap was now down to 25 seconds and I felt as if we were going to catch them ok and maybe a chance to attack them straightaway. But after about 5-6 km the chase started to break down as people missed turns, or they got on the front and steadied up – why, why, why
The gap timings started to go out to a minute and then 1min 30sec. By now the chase was over … the same old reason… too few wanting to work and then the few trying to work, getting felt up with the peloton just sitting on the wheels – Plus I think the cold and wind had probably drained most people’s enthusiasm to be there in the first place to zero.
With three laps to go, I still thought we had a chance to get them back. With a gap of 1min 30sec it was going to be difficult, but if we did start to get the gap down, it may start to put the lead bunch under a bit of pressure. But it never worked out. At the beginning of the fourth lap, another junior and I pushed the pace up into the headwind, trying to get things going. It worked a bit, but nothing again lasted.
At the start of the final lap, which goes up a drag into the headwind – I was placed back in mid group getting a rest. The front of the bunch just slowed down to a crawl – no fight in this group at all.
Later, on the final lap and couple of riders were let off the front – I waited about 20 back again to see what would happen – nothing. The two riders got about a 50m gap and then another rider rode off the front – I moved out and started to chase him. I was about 20m back from him – pushing into the wind. I just rode on the front, keeping my own tempo. I was slowing bringing the gap down….but not quickly enough – and I wasn’t going into the red for this.
I did the usual ‘flick the elbow’, but nothing from behind. I didn’t want to drop my pace, so just tapped it out. Finally after a few more km. The peloton seemed to wake up. A couple of individual riders attacked, but only lasted about 100m or so and they just faded or just gave up. The pace did pick up for the last couple of km to the final. The main group didn’t seem to be a big as it was (I lost Johnny) and I don’t know if the cold or the wind got to a few riders. I had on final dig off the front going up the hill before the finish. I managed to hold off the group, but going over the rise they started to catch me and the long sprint started for the line. I just rolled over the line, mid group.
I was a bit disappointed and annoyed had myself.
Disappointed for missing the initial break (considering who was in it) and annoyed that I didn’t go with the second break on the final lap (the two guys managed to stay away to the finish ok). Again, I worked far too much….but felt I had no real choice. There was just no effort in the peloton today. I’ll put it down to the weather …. but overall the day was a bit frustrating.
However, it was a great workout. Good to get the first A3 race under my belt for this year – it was hard work in tough conditions – I didn’t get dropped, which is always a bonus 🙂 …. bit of a sore back for a couple of laps (getting used to the race bike position) … but in the end back felt ok.
Well done to Nathan Keown for a superb 2nd. …. And to Johnny Webb for sticking it out until the third lap.
Andrew Chivers was racing A1, but not sure how he got on…… and big thumbs up to Paul Kirk for getting 4th in the Masters ..sorry I couldn’t be there to destroy the race 😉
Sometimes, you feel this is a young man’s sports……especially when the finishing top 8 riders are 30+ years younger than you …LOL