Paul Caton & Neil Wass headed for Surrey this weekend to test their early form at the Surrey League Kingston Wheelers Road Race. Starting earlier in the year than usual, they were modest in their expectations: "I tend to go for the odd Time Trial at this stage normally," explains Caton. "It helps me to put some markers down and see where I need to focus my training.
The first race for both of them, they had little idea of what to expect. Says Wass "This is nearly a month earlier than the normal start for me. I'm a creature of habit and I like to see the clocks go forward before I get the race bike out."
They were fortuntae with the weather. Dry roads and bright sunshine helped the chilly temperature of 7 degrees feel spring - like.
Neil Wass - feeling positive
"It was great to get out there and race," says Wass. "We just went to see wat we could do. We've both put a fair bit of work in since Christmas." "Er yeah," adds Caton, "We've totalled over 4,000 miles since January the 1st."
The pace was high from the off, and both riders stayed near the front to watch for any dangerous moves. "We sat in for the first couple of laps," recounts Caton. "It's rare to see anything conclusive happen this soon and there were 10 laps in total."
From thereon, the boys got busy and taking turns, made sure they were in any move which looked threatening. On Lap 4, Caton solo'd away for half a lap and was away with a Dulwich Paragon rider. "That was great," says Wass. I remember thinking 'great, I can have a rest for a bit!"
Things started to get more serious as Caton's move was brought back and Wass found himself following the counter move: "It was a bit sooner than I expected," says Wass. "But you're never sure which will be the winning move; especially in the 1st race of the season." This break opened a gap of over 30 seconds but was brought back after a lap and a half, but the shock for Wass was that a counter move went very quickly and contained riders he thought would be dangerous: "
"I could have done with a bit of recovery, but I got the feeling that I was about to miss the winning move," he recalls. "So I had to dig deeper than I would normally at that stage and bridge across." A big push got him over to the break and 9 riders worked well together, building a gap of nearly 2 minutes at its peak. Caton, meanwhile, was watching and covering moves in the main group, which contributed significantly.
Wass crossed the line in 9th, a little frustrated with the result: "I gave everything to the break and cramped on the finish hill, so it was a bit frustrating, but a lot of that came from my bridging effort and if I hadn't have done that, I'd most likely have been out of the points. It's probably my strongest ever start to the season and I did feel pretty comfortable for most of the race. The fine tuning will come."
Paul Caton: "It was a bit more demanding than many races I've done so it was great training, both physically and mentally. I'm really pleased I rode it and it's mde me keen to do more of these races this year."