The 7th race in the series was a hot race, a fast race and an aggressive race. Wayne and I started in the 4th of five groups. We had four other St Neots riders in the 4th Cat group, starting second the women’s group. Behind us were seven 2nd Cats, including two Maxifuel riders.
The 9 riders in our group have been racing with each other, on and off, for several weeks now and are getting comfortably familiar with each others riding styles. While the early weeks were characterised by big turns and little organisation, this week we quickly settled into an efficient pace line, with each rider pulling a short turn at the front before peeling off for the next man to come through.
Our cooperation continued until the prime lap (each group would have a prime just before the group behind caught them). At that point we were equidistant between the merged groups ahead and the scratch group behind, but, sensing the imminent catch, our organisation wavered and the pace eased. One rider jumped and won the £10 prime prize; the rest of use were caught before the lap was up. Shortly after our combined bunch caught the group ahead. 25 minutes into the race and we were all together, but our group’s earlier accord was already a fading memory; the attacks had started.
In one of the earliest attacks four riders jumped clear, I followed, trying to get across. A few more riders followed my wheel, Wayne included. I got across to the group ahead and their four became our eight. We had a small gap. Urgent shouts called to capitalise on our gain and we started to work. We had a new accord, but as my turn at the front came, I realised it was a weak one. The next rider didn’t come through. The peloton, sensing the danger of an eight man break was chasing hard, but we had passengers and they swallowed us back. But it had done damage. Over a dozen riders had been dropped and as the attacks continued more riders fell away. After making another failed breakaway attempt, I found myself drifting back through the bunch, using the respite for recovery. Before I knew it I was at the back. I looked for other St Neots riders, and saw Wayne and Adrian Bloxham. Adrian Lancaster, David and Steve were sadly out of it.
Jamie Scott, one of the Maxifuel riders made what is becoming the inevitable successful break, taking one other rider with him. Not long after four more riders slipped away. Adrian and I had a convergence of thought and attacked simultaneously. Wayne clocked us and followed. We got a gap and for a few hundred metres three St Neots rider were away, but our team work couldn’t withstand the pursuit behind.
Onto the final lap and for a moment I thought Adrian was dropped. Given this was only his second ever race, and the last half hour had been fast and aggressive, I wouldn’t have been surprised. But no, a rider ahead shifted his line and there he was pulling at the front – chapeau Adrian!
Around the final bends, Wayne and I were well positioned near the front for the sprint. Wayne won it, and I came 5th, just missing out by a tyres thickness to Fenland Clarion’s Matt Garfield. However, the two breakaway groups had survived, so 5th for Wayne and 12th for me. Adrian finished in the bunch behind.
It was a good race, and as I sit writing this, watching the tour, I’m itching for the next one. But, I’m starting to regret suggesting Wayne try racing – he’s consistently costing me one place in the sprints…