Bad news on arrival. Finding out they have changed the route last-minute so as not to have the hill finish; the whole reason I entered this race in the first place. The route was exactly the same as the first round as the Cotswolds league, just one lap shorter. It was sunny with 20% chance of rain forecast. so I was debating the arm warmers. Gladly I wimped out and wore them as the weather was horrendous!
I found that the way this 3rd and 4th cat race was road was very different to the Regional A races of the Cotswolds league. If anything it was harder. Due to the race now being a sprint finish I knew the only way I stood any chance was to be in a break away. This is the way the race differed, no mater how anyone attacked the bunch instantly panicked and chased it down. It was as if everyone on almost every team wanted to be in the brake. After about 10 hopeless attempts to get a gap between Will Croft, Sam Adey and I, It was looking highly likely for a bunch sprint. There was also a bit more dodgy riding within the peloton, the rain didn’t help either. At one point going up a rise the pace slowed to the point that a dozen riders including myself crashed into each other, bending one of my spokes and knocking my wheel out of true.
Throughout the race Jim Jones had been making solo moves of his own, this was to work out the sorts of speeds the bunch was able to move and what sort of gap a break would need to succeed. On the second to last lap Jim put in another one of his attacks stringing the bunch up a small uphill drag, he was caught just over the top, before the pace could slow I went over the top of him. I had a gap, but I knew I couldn’t do the last 13-15 miles on my own! So I held back just enough to allow someone to bridge
across. He caught me just after the short climb. We worked together through the bell. We had maybe 30 seconds. I wasn’t convinced we could hold it, but I knew I had to give it my all.
Back in the bunch Jim was policing the pace. Trying to keep it below 25-26mph to help keep me away.
We had about 2 miles to go, the bunch was really moving at this point and we were back in sight. I knew the finish was going to be close! I took to the front to put one last effort to stay away, I managed to unintentionally pull a gap on my break away companion. This showed he was at his limit. I eased off to allow him to catch up and take the front, 200 meters to go, I looked back and saw the bunch closing down fast, 100 meters to go, I opened my sprint and managed to take the win by about a bike length.
Seconds later the bunch sprint came to the line being led by Jim to take a well deserved third.