The run of uncharacteristically good weather throughout the first three rounds of the Cotswold league finally ended; we were all shivering waiting to start in the poring rain. I had been looking forward to this race from the start of the season due to the challenging terrain which suits a lighter rider such as myself and I wasn’t going to be letting bad weather change anything.
The race was neutralised for a short distance from the HQ to the base of the finishing climb. The climb was just over a mile long at about 4%, so by no means difficult. The first time up the climb the pace was steady, just enough to quickly warm up. I got myself to the front for the short sharp decent that followed as I didn’t fancy a bunch decent in the wet right at the start of the race!
I had spoken to Matt Woods during the first lap, and we decided to try to break the bunch up the climb. The turn into the climb was extremely slippery, this was apparent when a couple of riders seamed to slip off in slow motion a few meters in front of me. I took to the front of the peloton up the climb and raised the pace to 18-20mph, I had Tony Kiss on my wheel as he was aiming for the KOM points. He sprinted to the crest of the hill to battle the points with a rider from Dream Team Cycling. I repeated these hard efforts up the climb for the next three laps, eventually the elastic in the bunch snapped, leaving little over 20 riders in the main group. On the fourth lap, I went to do the same again, only this time I ended up gaping the bunch on my own. I made to decision to push on solo as it should force a counter move from another team that Matt or Tony could jump onto.
While I was away, I spotted another rider who was up the road from earlier on in the race, I wasn’t actually aware that someone slipped off the front. He still had around 30 seconds on me and I wasn’t really closing down on him. After crossing the line for the bell lap, still on my own, I looked behind me and saw Colin Parry and Rory Gilling bridging across with Matt on tow. I didn’t have much legs left at this point and was glad to see them! The moment I was joined, Matt attacked, Colin and Rory were unable to respond. I jumped on the back of the pair and let them tow me round. We caught the lone rider around 30 seconds after Matt, he was able to jump on the back of us.
Coming into the bottom of the climb for the last time, I knew if I rode it hard as before I would be able to take 2nd place. I went for it from the bottom, looking at my power and hoping I could hold it! First Rory cracked and lost my wheel, colin shortly followed. Problem is, just a few peddle strokes later it was my turn to crack, my legs had nothing. The pair was able to slowly claw me back and get back on my wheel. The peloton was just seconds behind. Rory and Colin jumped past me, I stood to attempt to follow and could hardly stand let alone follow! I managed to roll the line and take 4th place. Rory managed to out sprint Colin to take 2nd. Matt finished with an impressive lead!
It was a brilliant race! with a well deserved win for Matt and the team! Will Crofts worked hard battling within the remains of the peloton and managed to win the bunch sprint to take 6th.