With the end of the Cotswold league looming and including this one, just three rounds to go, I really wanted to get some big numbers on the table. It’s been a while since I’ve done a Cotswold league race as I was on holiday for one, then the last one cancelled; so I was excited to really go for it!
Once again we were really blessed with good weather; sunny, with no wind, not too hot, not too cold. Perfect! We were neutralised from Brinkworth House for about 1km into the bottom of the rise from Brinkworth. As soon as the flag was pulled inside the car there were a flurry of attacks, I managed to push my way quite far forward during the neutralised zone and was able to be in a controlling position at the front of the bunch allowing Jack Tompson and Sam Adley to extend the gap they created when they launched on the climb.
We were about 9 miles in and the small break, had a very slender 5-10 second advantage when the race commissaries took the decision to stop the race due to regular white line violations. This bought the race back together. Shortly after we crossed the line for the first time, I took to the front and accelerated, I had help from Alex Anderson (VC Equipe), Rory Gilling (VC Montpellier) and Simon Ker (Bath CC.) It didn’t take long for the elastic to snap and we made our move away from the peloton. There were seven of us in total. As I was the only Performance Cycles rider in the break I felt that seven maybe too many. But when you roll the dice you have to take what your given.
We continued to ride as a cooperative unit and pulled a gap close to five minutes from the peloton. This was a huge gap for a Cotswold race of just 70 miles and a gap that you would normally see in a race of 100+ miles. You would think this was a good thing! When a gap is this big, people can start riding negatively and stop pulling turns and just sitting in the drafts of everyone else. Not only is this bad for morale, it can also cause enough disruption to get caught. With around 12 miles to go, Jamie was starting to ride in this negative way, the rest of the break including myself were growing increasingly frustrated with him not working! I attempted to break clear from the bunch on a few occasions, but the reaction from Alex was instantaneous and I was going nowhere.
We were told that there was a chasing group of three rider around 30 seconds behind us. Not knowing who was in this trio, Rory, Simon and I pulled a few hard turns as we were just 5 miles or so from the finish.
We turned left onto the finishing straight with less than a mile to go and we kept the trio at bay. We had all slowed and began to mark each other. Rory was forced to the front with Jamie on his wheel, I was behind him. I had a feeling Jamie was going to go to early as the finish was quite a nasty uphill drag. Sure enough he did, I was easily able to go with him and hold his wheel. He faded with 100 meters to go, still a bit early for me to go, I saw the line and went for it, I kept my head down and I could see Alex was still glued to my wheel. My only chance was to ‘out drag’ him to the line. With less than 25 meters to go, he was able to sprint pass me. I sat back down took the defeat and rolled the line in 2nd place.
The small Chase trio had Matt Woods in and he managed to beat his companions to take 8th.