Tantalisingly close on Bank Holiday Monday
A team of four Started the mens Millbrook Classic this morning. For one day a year, this special venue is made available to cycle racing and, combining the security of closed roads with a major alpine - style climb, it makes for a special race.
|Doug Coleman, Andy Connington, Neil Wass, Bran Curran|
Doug Coleman had previous history with the course, so he was prepared: "The climb is a real challenge - it weeds out any weak riders, irrespective of skills - it's unforgiving; there's nowhere to hide."
A brisk pace from the off saw riders slip off the back of the bunch on the first time up the climb. Says Neil Wass: "It was seriously challenging because once you'd climbed the ascent, you were looking at headwinds for 2-3km -you had to really tuck in."
The team had a couple of local favourites to watch, one of whom had won on Saturday, so Coleman & Wass rode as a team with the aim of covering the known threats. "We were very much racing with our heads," continues Wass. "I was keeping in touch with Doug throughout and I think we achieved something there - I certainly covered a coupe of potentially dangerous moves."
Wass followed a move on lap 2 of 7 while Coleman bided his time. A break went on lap 4 but as it didn't contain any known threats, the group was left to build a small but significant gap: "There was no reason to chase," explains Wass. "There were bigger teams than us, and there was time."
Wass continued to chase down moves whilst Coleman made selective testing efforts, but on the whole, he was conservative until the final climb:"It was a case of now or never," he recounts. "So I gave it everything." Continues Wass: "I was pretty chuffed to see how quickly Doug move once he'd chosen his moment. One minute he was in the front of the bunch; the next he'd made it to the back of the lead group. It was as if he'd teleported himself!"
With 4km to go, Coleman sat on the lead group, but felt that time was running out: "I can't sprint. Or at least, that's the way I feel relative to others, so I prepared for a long - range launch." With 1500m to go, he attacked again into a strong headwind: "It was always going to be hard, but it was an especially big ask after my bridging effort."
Having been consumed by the front group of 6 once again, he remained with them, but the 2nd group, containing Wass, caught the break just before the finish line: "I was quite a way back as I didn't want to contribute to the effort which was chasing Doug down," says Wass. "It was pretty frisky -we were clocking over 60kph on the flat." Coleman finished 9th, with Wass in 13th place.
Andy Connington and Brian Curran came in with later groups. It was Brian Curran's first Road Race: "That was one tough intro," says team DS Nick Walker. Curran continues:"I expected it to be tough, but it kind of reassures me that there are easier races out there, so I know I'll survive and it was refreshing to stretch my legs." New to 3rd Cat is Andy Connington: "It's definitely a different level," he says. "I've got to focus on more high intensity work because this is the new norm."
Concludes Coleman: "It's another peformance to build from, but we've made major progress in terms of racing as a team and I really think we're close to some more major results."
Full result http://goo.gl/xFFu0