A fine sunny evening with scorching temperatures of around 16 deg greated riders as they arrived at the HQ, a far cry from events when I last raced here 2 weeks ago.
I didnt have this race in mind when I entered the Tour of the Peak a few months ago, it seemed like a good idea at the time to take advantage of a rare opportunity to ride with my mate from Plymouth while he was in the area, as such my “tapering” didnt go quite to plan as I rode the 113 miles and over 11,000 ft of elevevation gain on Sunday! My legs were still still feeling it before the race, so I had no idea how I was going to play this race or even if I had any choice on the matter.
The Police arrived prior to the race, showing their support, which is great news.
Weaver Valley were represented by Matt Ellis in Race 1, Mark Adshead & myself in Race 2, and Ged Lacey & Kev Underhill in Race 3.
Race one rolled away, and next up, race 2 began. There was a strong field of riders so I was already thinking the pace would be hot. After a couple of false starts, the race kicked off as expected on the “Col de Smithy Lane”, I found myself attacking again (not sure why!), sitting up when I realised that the whole race was strung out behind, in the flash of an eye, a group of piled over the top opening a gap, just before the turn on to the A34.
I tried to bridge the gap on the A34 with Paul McGowan (WRC) on my wheel, I flicked my elbow and he came though, he then eased off, I went again, this time I was followed by Carl Finley (St Helens CRC) and John Wych (Will Wheels) and we started to work together to try and close the gap. Over the next 2 miles or so, the gap was reducing, by now John was missing turns so the work was left to Carl and I. We eventually caught the break just before we crossed the finish line for the first time, which surprised me as we had no rights to cathc them
The break was now 9 riders strong, including some big hitters, as well as the riders mentioned above, we had Andy Bennett (Onimpex Bioracer Racing Team) Simon Bridge (Manchester Bicycle Club) John Crook (Liverpool Mercury) Andy Prince (Stafford RC) Andy Wright (Bott Cycle Team) Stephen Blaney-Green (Team Kuota).
After catching my breath at the back, we started to work together over the next lap. John Wych soon blew up, then Carl Finley had a mechanical on Trap Street.
The break was now down to 7, a few old of the experiianced riders were playing it coy missing turns, I felt obliged to do more work! Taking the bell, and turning left onto Salters Lane, Bridgey, Bennett & Prince attacked, they opened up a small gap, it was left to me to close again, We were now back together. Prince went again and road off the front, no one followed this time, he got a gap of about 10 or 12 seconds or so with about 10 miles to go.
Prince stayed in sight, while we maintained the gap, again, the same riders were doing the work on the front with others sitting on! but he was always in reach if we just put the effort in. We turned up Smithy Lane for the last time, I was 3rd wheel, Bridgey put a bit of a dig on the front we stretched out a bit as we turned onto the A34, I got back on the wheel of Bennett, by this time we had caught and passed Prince, everyone eased off and we were all back together again.
Prince went again! After about 5 seconds, Wright went, again I tried to close them down, but everyone was on my wheel, letting me do the work, with about a mile to go, Wright and Prince were together, Bridgey went over the top, I knew Bennett wouldn’t be far behind so I dropped a couple of gears to try and wind it up, sure enough Bennett was chasing Bridge, and I was chasing Bennett, there was a gap between us all, Bennett caught Bridge and it took me a about another 10-15 seconds for me to catch Bennett. I could see Crook on my wheel, sticking to it like “s@#t to a shovel”, Bridgey kept checking over his shoulder, waiting for a move, I was just waiting for the inevitable kick which soon came once we were on the rise to the finish. Bridge went first, Bennett right behind, I couldn’t hold Bennett’s wheel any longer, Crook played a blinder and passed me, we all sailed past Wright. Bridge held Bennett off to secure the Win, Bennett taking 2nd, Crook 3rd, Prince 4th and I took 5th, (3rd in my Catagory). Mark Adshead was dissapointed to miss the break and finished in the bunch.
Whilst I seem to have the power to stick with the strong guys, I am still learning this racing lark, I need to work on my tactics and not to be too keen to tow others unnecessarily, I am sure it will come in time!
Matt Ellis Finished in the bunch of Race 1, won by Matt Langridge, Kev finished in his Bunch, Ged got cramp about a mile from home after doing a lot of work on the front,
Full results can be found here
Last in the series next week, to be continued………………..