[Editor’s Note: Just a reminder that there is women’s racing next weekend, Saturday 3 February. We’ve already had plenty of entries so it looks set to be a good race, with a variety of abilities and every likelihood of full BC points on offer. Please come and have a go, and encourage your friends and team-mates to do the same!]
It’s always a pleasure being up at Hog Hill on an ELV Winter Series afternoon.
As the morning’s youth training sessions come to a close, muddy kids with wind-blown cheeks and big grins on their faces are driven out of the car park at Redbridge Cycling Centre to make way for the next wave of masochistic grown-ups preparing to take on the infamous Hoggenberg under race conditions.
The riders’ hopes and aspirations for the afternoon will vary with ability, experience, form and appetite for discomfort, but everyone shares a common goal: ride ’til your legs fall off, catch your breath and reward yourself with tea, cake and a catch-up with mates in the warm cafe whilst the post-race endorphins flood your weary body.
For the organisers, too, the day is rewarding. A great deal of planning and hard work goes into each and every race day: promoting the event; liaising with the centre and the British Cycling commissaires; recruiting marshals from within the club; health and safety compliance; sign-on; gear checks; photography; delivering bacon sandwiches and hot coffee to the marshal stood at the far side of the bottom circuit. But it always comes together thanks to the generosity of everyone involved, and by and large it’s good fun… after all, we’re a cycling club and we love bike racing.
4th Cat Race
The billowing flags by the start/finish line were a clear sign of the strong westerly wind, but the circuit was just about dry for the start of the 4th Cat race and conditions just a touch less brutal than last week’s foil blanket-fest.
The wind did, however, dissuade anyone from trying their luck with any sort of meaningful breakaway attempt, and the race was pretty uneventful as a result.
Dan and Chris were both racing for ELV, and hopes were high after a good haul of points between them over the last couple of weeks. Sadly, neither had a particularly good race: Chris pulled over after just a handful of laps, victim of a chronic Sufferfest addiction (rumour has it that he almost missed the start because he tried to cram in a 3 hour Vo2 max session before heading up to Hog Hill), and Dan rolling in at the back of the bunch, looking a little peaky after an uncharacteristically quiet race. You can’t race well every time – keep at it boys!
In the final laps, a few riders tried to stretch things out, but nothing came close to sticking and the bunch resigned itself to the inevitable mass sprint for the line. Kudos to Andrew Bradbury for having a go as the bell sounded – a brave move that’s likely to cost you a decent finish if it doesn’t work out – no cigar this time for the Paceline RT rider, but it’s good to see some attacking “He Who Dares” riding, particularly at 4th Cat level.
It was ultimately Andy Martin (Kingston Wheelers) who took the chequered flag in the kick for the line, ahead of Daniel Tyrie (Imperial College CC) with Robert Staines (Unaffiliated) rounding off the podium.
1. Andy Martin (Kingston Wheelers)
2. Daniel Tyrie (Imperial College CC)
3. Robert Staines (Unaffiliated)
4. Tom Stoneham (London Dynamo)
5. Charles Butler (Cambridge University CC)
6. Oliver Duggan (RCC)
7. Richard McShee (Islington CC)
8. Nicholas Hall (St Ives CC)
9. David Leon (RCC)
10. Andy Thornley (RCC)
11. Toby Cowell (Cambridge University CC)
12. Thomas Eke (Unaffiliated)
13. Philip Harrison (London Dynamo)
14. John Roberts (Sunday Echapee)
15. Lukasz Szeloch (Redbridge CC)
16. Rob Tutt (CC Hackney)
17. Stacy Whymark (Essex Roads)
18. Tom Vose (London Dynamo)
19. Dan Baker (East London Velo)
20. Andrew Bradbury (Paceline RT)
Full 4th Cat pics here (credit: David Smith)
Cat 2/3/4 Race
East London Velo had good representation in the 2/3/4 race, with Chris, Tom and Steve joined by time trial specialist and GB triathlete Pete Dyson. Inspired by Wayne’s 2-up breakaway and victory last weekend, the boys were keen to animate the race and, during the warm-up laps, a plan was hatched to give ELV a shot at a second win in succession.
The opening couple of laps were uneventful, but the weather had turned and there was now a steady drizzle accompanying the wind. The circuit was wet and the bunch moved cautiously in the spray, under slippy conditions. Perfect…
Four or five laps in, Chris put in a big effort up the Hoggenberg, stretching the field instantly. Tom followed on his wheel, with Pete in hot pursuit. Round the sweeping left hander at pace, Tom then jumping in front, driving over the crest and down the hill. With a clear gap and the race lined out behind, Pete seized his chance, rolling through and off the front…
With Pete away and settled into time trial mode, ELV’s task was relatively simple: contribute nothing to the chase and take it in turns to close down attacks, making sure that any chasing break would have a black and white jersey sat at the back. A few riders (notably Nesta Ferguson (LVYCC), Martin Smith (London Phoenix), Harry Thompson (Bloodwise-QSW) and Joe Bennett (Welwyn Wheelers)) made efforts to kick on, but nothing stuck and as the race entered the final few laps it became clear that – barring disaster – Pete had the win in the bag.
Pete’s ride was a time trialing masterclass. He would ultimately put 1 minute 20 seconds into the bunch, crossing the line with his arms in the air to celebrate a very impressive win (unbelievably, his first crit win!)
Chris deserves a special mention for his work in the second half of the race, burning his matches closing down threatening moves (to protect Pete) and keeping the pace high into the final couple of laps (to give Tom a good shot at some points in the sprint). Steve also put in a shift early on, and rode strongly on a course that, by his own admission, doesn’t suit him well.
With a stiff headwind on the Hoggenberg, it was noticeable that nobody wanted to take on the sprint until the last possible moment. Given his string of top finishes so far in the Winter Series, it was no surprise to see Nesta Ferguson (LVYCC) light the burners and pull away from the pack, with Chris Hezelgrave (Hackney CC) taking third and Joe Bennett (Welwyn CC) fourth. ELV’s Tom took fifth, with Chris choosing not to contest the sprint after working so hard to set up a good result for the team.
So, a good tactical race and plenty to be optimistic about from an ELV perspective. Two wins in two races for the host club… can we make it three on the trot next week?! We love a good battle so get your entries in ASAP!
1. Pete Dyson (East London Velo)
2. Nesta Ferguson (LVYCC)
3. Christopher Hezelgrave (Hackney CC)
4. Joseph Bennett (Welwyn Wheelers)
5. Tom Willan (East London Velo)
6. Simon Humphris (London Phoenix)
7. Greg Smith (Finsbury Park CC)
8. Martin Smith (London Phoenix)
9. Robert Matthews (Redbridge CC)
10. Nick Martin (Crawley Wheelers)
11. David Dalrymple (RCC)
12. Harry Thompson (Bloodwise QSW)
13. Tom Simpson (Cambridge University CC)
14. Chris Martin (Sunday Echapee)
15. Leigh Richards (Unaffiliated)
16. Chris Thomas (East London Velo)
Full Cat 2/3/4 pics here (credit: David Smith)
Thanks again to everyone involved – organisers, marshals, commissaires, supporters, cafe staff and riders.
As always, pre-entry for the next race is available on the British Cycling website – sign up here now to save money and guarantee your spot on the start line!