My introduction to stage racing was not a phenomenal one that set the world alight, but neither was it a disaster. Instead it proved to be a great experience even if I couldn’t be very aggressive at the front end of the race.
Stage 1 took place on a course I crashed on back in March, so wasn’t too pleased to be back at the dodgy Dunsfold circuit. For anyone who has ridden/raced this course will know that often it is the pot holes that provide more difficulty than the terrain itself. A pretty flat course overall. And if anyone from the Waverly Borough Council is reading this then please SORT OUT YOUR ROADS!
Stage 2 was held on the testing Barcombe circuit, which was tough and wearing despite there being no major inclines.
Stage 3 was on the newly established Wivelsfield circuit. I was impressed with this mostly flat course that featured virtually no dodgy road surfaces or narrow roads. All of these were ingredients for a fast 3rd stage.
All stages were around 70 miles in length.
Stage 1. The usual ebb and flow in intensity for the first 70 kilometers meant the pace was uncomfortable but not too stressful. The early break that stayed away until that point contained Andy Critchlow (Wyndymilla), Leon Stoneman (Army CRT) and Ian Payne (London Dynamo). Then it got serious and the pace sky-rocketed for the final 3 laps. Fighting to hang on in there, unsure if there would be a split in the bunch or if I’d be dropped. A gap in front of me forms. Shit, just keep going. There you go, nearly back on the wheel. It calmed down ever so slightly on the last lap when it was clear no one was sneaking away. Off the circuit onto the finish and crossed the line 18 seconds back from the days winner; Phillip Glowinski (VCL). An awesome ride from my fellow VC Meudon team mate Ed Bishop meant he took 3rd place.
Stage 2. I felt quite fresh for the first half hour, but the brutal pace for the first 2 hours eventually took its toll, and I was distanced with about 2 laps to go. Having heard what some of the other riders were saying about the stage, the point I was distanced was quite possibly the hardest point of the race. If I could have just held on a bit longer I would have benefited from the drop in pace and would have been able to recover a bit. There was 7 of us who were dispatched at the same time, and we continued to ride through and off to the finish to limit our losses. By the time we crossed the line we had lost about 7 minutes on the bunch. So another brutal day in the saddle.
Stage 3. I woke this morning to heavy legs and a sense of dread at the prospect of another 70 miles at high speed, but contrary to my predictions this turned out to be the ‘easiest’ of the weekend. After a very intense first few laps the bunch settled down and the pace remained as constant as a race can do for quite a while. Inside the last 10 miles it did heat up but nothing too serious. We hit the final left before the sprint for the line and I even had enough left to come round a number of riders to get at least a top half finish. So overall a solid 210 miles and just over 8 hours in the legs this weekend.
So with regards to the overall GC, Ed did an outstanding job to keep the yellow jersey he won on stage 2 and win the race by a single second from Gary Brind (Southdown Bikes – Casco) and a further second from Oliver Richardson (Twickenham CC). Well done to all.
I can only imagine the amount of time, effort and organisation required to put on such an event that without the devotion from Glynn Durrant would be impossible to run. A big thanks to the host clubs: Kingston Wheelers, Addiscombe CC and Sussex Nomads.
Results here – http://www.surreyleague.co.uk/2017/04/28/surrey-league-may-3-day-stage-race-including-resultsgc/
Strava – https://www.strava.com/activities/966057354#kudos