My first race in June was the Regional Championships in Colchester. That Sunday I had the aim of riding my socks off for my close friend, Andreas who had tragically passed away the previous morning. I was devastated when I heard the news and after the pain had subsided a bit I knew I had to go and win for him. My parents said you don’t have to race if you don’t want to, I understand where they were coming from about not being able to think clearly, but it had to be done!
The day was hot! Probably the hottest day of the year so far if I am honest, with temperatures reaching the high 20s for the first time this year. The high temperatures and the long race and especially small field (considering 3 regional championships – SouthEast, Central and Eastern – were taking place within the same race) meant that vast amounts of water were required to remain hydrated and concentrated. Due to the small field, and relatively inexperienced field of riders (i.e not many had raced 120km too often in a race situation) I tried some attacks from the very beginning viewing it as an ideal way to get some long range breakaway practice in the legs. Which we duly did. Around ¾ of the race was ridden in the breakaway that gradually shrunk as riders slowly dropped off from the inexperience of the race distance. From the original 6, it boiled down to the final 3. Thankfully this group of three included one rider from each region, leading to a certain South East win for me…
But I still had to finish off the race for Andreas. I was expecting some attacks to come in the final laps but they never popped up. I had confidence in my sprint and wanted to try something new, by trying to ride from the back and gap rush to secure the win. The other two riders had different plans. My disadvantage was that I had beaten them both in a straight up sprint before. They were probably aware of that, and shoved me on the front with a km or so to go. As I was in the familiar position, I did what I know works for me and that is ramp the pace up before unleashing the sprint. So going 200W, then 300W then 600 W etc. then launch. I had a hunch that it usually works 😊. And it did, as soon as Oli jumped I went and he never came round, so I had enough time to get a practiced celebration so my dedication to Andreas was perfect. Thankfully there were several photographers who captured some brilliant pictures of the emotional moment. That was for you buddy, hope you are winning the race in paradise. #RideforAndreas
I was looking forward to this race the moment I pulled out of the race last year due to my exams. It’s safe to say that the race lived up to expectations of being the most exciting and thrilling race I have been in for a while now. Firstly I would like to say a massive thank you to the organisers for allowing me to race after the late entry, I am very grateful.
Typically, there was a crash in the neutral section, but I was at the back and out of the way so all was good. A little pause later and the race was back under way after a quick start up the first hill it relaxed a little but the pace was still on allowing me to move up on the rolling road block. True Belgium-style race. -maybe that’s why I felt so motivated. The gravel sections were sketchy as hell from all the heavy rain in the days prior to the race. To add to matters my brake fluid had leaked in my front disc brake making me unable to brake at all on the undulating course with millions of twists and turns. Thankfully after a sticky moment down a steep descent into a dead 90 degree left hander, I found my dad with my spare bike and within moments I got going again and caught the group in no time. This race was probably the second most hilly race after Ronde van Vlaanderen at 1400m elevation. Hang on… no it was the third hilliest race the other was the final day of 3 days of Axel.
Going into the final I wanted to try something on the final KOM of the Cuckoo berg. It reminded me like for like of the patterberg if I am honest. I didn’t have to do anything until over the top as the others went full gas up the climb all I had to do was follow. One rider, Alfie, said to me after the race “I was sure you had a motor in” gave me a bit of a buzz. Thanks mate!! Mad 3rd from you. Coming into the finale there was a sharp narrow left hander at the bottom of a rapid descent. I was well positioned in about 5th with a 1km to. Right where I wanted to be! Unfortunately the other riders had other plans and dive bombed into that corner forcing me to the back of the group. Due to the rapid pace I was unable to move up but coming into 250 m to go I saw an opening up the left hand side and went for it. Finished about half way in the bunch in 12th position when 2 riders were up the road.
To end the racing this month I did two kermesses in Belgium and got two second places in arguably my best raced races I have ever done. Tactical errors cost me a win both times from a kick off a small break of 6 riders. The Sunday I had Remco in my mind the whole time because he won the race last year and I did that for a little part of the race but I just haven’t got the experience of 2-up and solo breakaways yet. It is a tough skill and one I have huge respect for those who can.
Onto the crit season now which started today. It entails 4 races in two weeks with the big dogs of British domestic scene. Let’s have a bit of fun!
Over ‘n’ out