After only 17km, it was clear that a hard fought contest was in prospect: "I was surprised to see a solid looking group of 6 or so riders with a good 30 seconds on the first passage through the finish line," recalls organiser Neil Wass.
|fast and furious racing from the word go|
There were too many strong riders in the peloton though - throughout the entire 121km, no single break managed a gap of more than 30 seconds.
"That's not to say there wasn't much going on though," adds Colin McDonnell of the promoting team. "It was a great battle to watch." Nick Walker continues: "Everyone seemed to have a go. There were so many gutsy efforts."
A crash on the 3rd lap seemed to unnerve one or two riders and the main group split into 2. But there were a number of strong riders in the back group; there was no hesitation and it all came back together on the finish hill with 2 laps to go.
On the final lap, a strong group escaped through Cublington with 19km to go. Opening a gap on the headwind section towards Stewkley, things looked promising for the escapees, but as they hit the uphill drag to Dunston, the benefits of being in the main group became obvious. By the time they reached the A413 junction, the fresher legs in the peloton had made the junction, the catch was made and it was all back together.
There were now 10km to go, 8.5km of which were downhill or flat. On paper, the only logical thing to do would have been to sit in and wait for the finish hill.
Edward Laverack of Tredz bikes had other ideas though. Sensing hesitation, he attacked from the breakaway group as the catch was made up the rise on the A413. Powering down through Whitchurch, he reopened a gap on the bunch who still didn't believe it would be possible to hold a gap on the high speed section down to the foot of the finish hill.
Hold it he did though, and crossing the line for the win, he had a 22 second gap on Chris Dredge of Corley Cycles who managed to open a couple of bikes lengths on the bunch.
|Splendid Isolation: The winner had the finish line to himself with a 'comfortable' gap to the bunch|
|L to R Chris Dredge, Corley Cycles (2nd), |
Edward Laverack, Tredz Bikes, (winner),Marc Flay, Kenilworth Wheelers, (3rd)
pic: Dave Hayward