Today’s race started with a minor humiliation. Only two 2nd Cats had signed on so they were placed in the 3rd cat group. However, to balance the groups, any 3rds who hadn’t placed a top 10 finish in the previous races were asked to move forward to the 4th cat group. That included me.
There were three other St Neots riders in my group, Tim, Stephen and David, the last two on their second and first races respectively. Wayne, thanks to his previous efforts, was riding with the 3rds.
The 3rds in our group, and there were only a handful of us, along with a couple of stronger 4ths quickly established control at the front, pulling the rest of the bunch along. We kept a good quick pace, and I think stirred things up a little for the 4ths. Within twenty minutes we were lapping the first dropped riders from our group.
The weather was mild and humid, but a strong northerly wind didn’t make conditions easy. However, I was pleased to be one of the few riders working most at the front, and judging from the other riders, I was one of the strongest. For me it was a big and welcome change from the first week.
Halfway into the race and we were being told we were holding the second group off. Six laps to go and our 3 minute advantage was slowly being eroded, but not fast enough. It was looking possible; we might not get caught. On the penultimate circuit, the lapped riders, off which there were now many coasting behind us, were ordered out of the race. I looked around and there were 7 of us left. Tim was there too.
One of the Bourne riders, James, came alongside and asked how I was feeling. Fucked I told him. I’ve raced with him several times before so I knew he was planning to attack and looking for company. But, I was now feeling tired, a vacuum was growing in my gut and I knew I didn’t have enough left to go with him. Soon after he attacked. Another rider bridged across, but they were quickly reeled back. Starting the final lap we were all together and one of us was going to win.
The final lap was surprisingly uneventful until the penultimate bend. There was an early attack for the line and four riders slipped a few metres off the front. It was enough. Tim, James and I were left behind without the strength to bridge. I jumped just before the final bend and held the other two off to take 5th. Tim was 7th. We finished 30 seconds ahead of the 3rd/2nds group.
It was a good race, I made a big contribution at the front and we held off a stronger group – it doesn’t happen often. I was also pleased to see the top positions go to those who had been dominant throughout the race, driving the group along.