Jun 7, 2011
Saturday 4 June 2011 saw the Army Cycling Union promote the South Circuit Champs at Tidworth in Hampshire. To their credit they had made a real effort with a bouncy castle and ice cream van for spectators and more importantly an “interesting” course for the riders. This was no airfield or motor racing circuit that we are used. The circuit went around a country house that had a stretch of rough road that felt cobbled when ridden at race speed, an off camber right hander into a climb, good descent, fast corners, fast straight and a few sleeping policeman. All that was missing was a cattle grid or water jump ! This was not going to end in a bunch sprint.
Martin Smith and I were representing Primal Europe/www.rutrainingtoday.co.uk/bikechainricci/CNP and our main competition was likely to come from 4 man teams ( at least) from Wilier Go Self Drive, Felt, VC St Raphael and Adeo Cadence. It would turn out to be similar to the Tour of Kent 3 day last week in that it is numbers as well as strength that is required.
The commissaire confirmed that it would 20 laps and that laps out would be allowed even though the lap was too long officially. A common sense approach often not seen in other sports such as football.
The first lap was neutralised behind a vehicle so was the nearest I am going to get to feeling like a Tour Series rider. He then pulled over and the race began.
Rowan Horner was first to attack which was no surprise to anyone familiar with circuit racing in the South of England. On to lap 3 and Ben Luckwell ( Wilier) attacked on the hill and I went after him. We worked well together for 2 or 3 laps and were then joined by Tavis Walker ( Adeo), Justin Hoy ( Felt) and Ian Rees ( Wilier). Shortly afterwards Colin Parry used his time trialling skills to good effect and joined us making 6 in the front group. From my point of view 3 Wilier and renowned fast man Justin Hoy was far from ideal but I would have to worry about that later. All the main teams were represented so things looked good. Wilier started attacking as they did not want to take Hoy to the finish and this disrupted the flow of the break and the stop start riding made it harder for me and also meant that we were caught by the remnants of the bunch. I was pleased to see Martin but not everyone else. Whilst the riders were trying to sort out tactics for the final part of the race Tavis clipped off the front by riding hard rather than a full on attack and Colin Parry did the same. Most riders looked at Felt to chase as with Justin Hoy in the race they had a really good chance if the unlikely happened and it was a bunch sprint. Ben Luckwell went again and got across to the front 2. 3 in the break and 2 from Wilier. Still no chase from Felt who seemed a bit off colour and it was perhaps not their type of circuit. Rowan Horner attacked up the climb with about 7 laps to go and I managed to squeeze through and go with him. We went hard down the hill and through the next 2 corners and were clear of the bunch.
I now had a decision to make
Option 1 – Let him do most of the work and out sprint him for 4th.
Option 2 – Race hard with him and go all out to catch the front group and try and win the race.
I am proud to say that I chose option 2. I was on the front for the climb and the corners and Rowan did the straights where he was faster. We were closing on the front group each lap it was just a case of running out of time. In the end we didn’t quite make it and finished about 10 seconds behind the front 3 and the medals. Rowan complimented me for working hard and racing properly. It was just a shame we hadn’t gone 2 laps earlier.
Martin clipped away from the bunch near the end and therefore was placed 6th.
In summary, good hard racing on a great new circuit that was a proper test for a championship.
Congratulations to Colin Parry.
1 Colin Parry Wilier
2 Ben Luckwell Wilier
3 Tavis Walker Adeo
4 Rowan Horner VC St Raphael
5 Wayne Coombs Primal Europe
6 Martin Smith Primal Europe