Thursday, 26 June 2014

Win for Skipsey at Hillingdon

Mick lined up at Hillingdon last night for another round of the fortnightly Masters Series. With him this time were Chris & Neil, who, after an early discussion, decided it would be fun to 'animate' the race a little. The pace was a bit stop-start to begin with but the team ensured they generally had someone in each move while the others recovered and about 20 minutes in, a move with Mick in it

"We were thinking this could be good," recalls Neil. "But you never know what the reaction of the bunch will be. There were plenty of strong riders left in the main group." As the break accelerated away, the bunch didn't seem too concerned and the gap stretched to about 30 seconds, but there was generally enough impetus to hold it there; a widely used tactic with the aim of wearing out the break whilst keeping them close enough to pull back.

And it it was in this state of equilibrium where Neil & Chris started to weigh up the situation: "We could see Paul Crook of Beyond Mountain Bikes  and Gray Turnock of Finsbury Park CC in our group," says Chris. "And they weren't too chuffed that they's missed the break. I don't think they expected it to stay away so the frustration started to rise after 40 minutes." 

Turnock started to rally other riders in the bunch to ride, getting help from Scott Holmes of Hillingdon CC but Chris & Neil were always in the first 6 riders or so: "We weren't blocking," explains Neil. "But we made sure that whenever there was an acceleration, we were part of it and everyone knew they would have to count us out of any bridging effort. What was great was that we knew Paul & Gray would be the main challengers to Mick in a sprint finish so the possibilities were good if we could keep them back in the main group."

With 5 laps to go, Turnock made a last desperate effort to cross the gap, but Neil was tight on his wheel and he had to sit up and accept the break was going to stay away. And sure enough it did, with Skipsey taking a finely judged Sprint Finish. "I was surprised because it almost felt too easy," he says. "But I've been through this scenario thousands of times in my head and trained for it hundreds of times so I guess that's part of the reason!"

No pic found of his win, so here's the big man at Hillingdon [where else?] in April
Turnock was gracious in defeat: "That was a well deserved victory for Mick. He's always up there in the finale so good for him, but also good for the team because the other two never lost focus in managing us lot in the bunch." Holmes agreed: "I reckon the other two in the bunch made the difference today. So many times we had the break in our sights, but they managed to slow us down. Great teamwork."

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