Tour Of The Milburys

13 May

The Tour of the Milburys was a race I had been looking forward to for some time. I would almost go as far to say that it was of my target races, as I thought it would suit me well.

The format of this race was different to the majority I’ve done, it was a 2 stage, 1 day race. The first event was a 6km uphill time-trial, followed by a 70 mile road race later in the afternoon. It was an interesting prospect as I knew that I could put in a fairly decent effort in the TT as despite it being billed as uphill, it was really quite a shallow incline after the initial ramp up, so it was TT bike friendly, and certainly suited me more than a straight hill climb where my weight would hurt me. The rolling nature of the road race wouldn’t be a hindrance to me either as there was nothing really steep, just gradual inclines. There were time bonuses on offer for the Road Stage, 3 seconds for winning the prime each lap, and 30 secs for the winner of the road race, 20 for 2nd, 10 for 3rd, so having looked at last year, the TT was really not the decider and in fact last year a break got away and obviously turned it upside down. Given the circuit it would be likely something similar would happen this year.

I was doing the race with a clubmate (Aaron) who had been putting in some good results in circuit races but this was his first road race, so we got down there nice and early ready for our 10.45 ~ starts in the TT. The weather in the morning was great, but it was looking ominous for the rest of the day. There were a few riders names I knew, and there were a few clubs that were well represented (Dulwhich, Guernsey Velo, Exeter Un) so it would be a hard one to get right. Anyway, with a quick warm up done we headed round the corner to commence the TT, early reports were saying that the quick times were sub 10.40 (mostly done on TT bikes), so at least I had a goal in mind. Aaron went off shortly before me, and I lined up. I knew that for this sort of duration I could do around 400 watts, so that is about what I set off to do for the first couple of mins to keep it calm, and then just go as hard as I could for the remainder.

I pushed off and quickly got up to speed, the course was nice, but it was a bit blowy up the top, and though it was mostly a tailwind, there were a couple of gusts that didn’t feel great with a disc wheel! I was around 5 mins in and power was looking good, and I felt like I was going well, I overcooked one of the corners slightly, but apart from that I was feeling good, about 8 mins in I could see my minute man ahead, and I kept going hard to try and make the pass, we came round the final bend and a long straight drag to the line, I went by the Peter Hansford rider and dug in hard for the line, stopping the clock at 10.20 or so (10.21 I was given), I was pretty spent initially, 408w was a best for that sort of duration and I felt it. But I was feeling confident about the time as I rolled back down to the HQ I was pondering how I may play it if that was the quickest time, but all that was fairly short lived when I got back and saw Rob Yeatman of Dream Cycling had put 9 or so seconds into me, putting me in 2nd overall. A quick google shows that Rob has some pedigree when it comes to Time Trialing and in fact was a junior national champ, that added to the fact he probably weighs less than 60kg meant that this course was probably pretty well ideal for him, so I wasn’t too upset to be beaten by him!

Photo courtesy of http://www.grahamrobins.net tt1

The other thing about this is that I didn’t have the issue of being marked as much etc as I was 2nd as opposed to first. Aaron came in with a 10.55 I think, which was a strong time on a roadbike, as I reckon a TT bike bought me certainly 20 or so seconds on this course. We scoffed down some food and watched the weather deteriorate slowly as the afternoon approached. Joy.

1pm rolled around and it was line up in the car park time for the road race, we were to do 9 laps of the rolling course around the spectacular Meon Valley, as I said earlier, there were primes each lap with the top 3 riders getting 3 down to 1 seconds for winning each prime, so the potential of 27 seconds, and 30 seconds for winning the stage meant that it was literally open to anyone as even the slowest TT times were only 90 secs down on mine. We rolled out and it started to tip it down – not really an issue for me as when racing I don’t really feel the cold too badly and I am quite a confident descender and cornerer (a new word I’ve just invented) in the wet, but it did makes things a bit dodgy. Sure enough we were only 5 miles in and Wayne of Vicious Velo and another chap slid out on a corner a-la Wiggins in the Giro, they both got back up pretty sharpish, but it was a reminder that although you may be confident in the wet, others may well take you down if they overcook something!

The race went on and I was just going with the moves, watching Rob, and also making note of anyone that looked strong, which is what Chris Zappala of Dulwich looked, he was a powerhouse in that race always driving, always at the front or near it and always looking dangerous. Lots of things tried to go but with no avail, and every time we went up the climb people were losing contact, I felt pretty good. On lap 2 or 3 a crash happened just before one of the corners and sadly Wayne went down pretty hard and ruined his rear mech etc, I think someone came across him, so sadly for him it was race over. It was around this point that a Dulwich rider, Chris Bedson, and Gray Tunnock of Finsbury Park CC got away, they opened up a fairly good lead, and were eventually joined by Andy Bryson of Peter Hansford, this was a fairly dangerous move, but I still thought it was too early, at the most they had a minute on us, but then the well drilled Guernsey boys, Chris Zap, and sometimes myself were doing turns to bring it back, and gradually we did. I was careful not to do too much as there was the lurking thought that it would end in a sprint so I didn’t want to be too ruined for that, especially as I had not managed to get any of the primes, as the sprints for them had been very chaotic and obviously the breakaway was mopping them up for a fair few laps.

We came down to the bell lap and the pace hotted up a bit, it was clear at this point that people were suffering, and the rolling course was taking its toll (my legs felt pretty beat too now). As we headed into the last 4 miles of the lap, we hit the bottom of the long gradual climb (think the second section of Box Hill but for much longer) and 3 guys jumped away, I thought it looked good, but was in a crap position to go with it, and also I think had I gone at that moment I’d have taken the bunch with me and just knackered myself for no real reason. So I waited a bit, and encouraged other riders to do some through and off to bring it back given that only 3 riders were up there and many teams had nobody in it. I went to the front to do a turn and had a quick look back and I had a gap of a few bike lengths…This was not a situation you find yourself in often, so I thought sod it, it was now or never, so I drilled it up the hill and was getting a bigger and bigger gap, excellent I thought, this could be it, I looked back and one of the Guernsey guys had come with me, but was on the limit as far as I could tell, I waved him through, he didn’t, I waved him again, he didn’t. It was now I realized he had someone up the road, but as far as I was concerned we either worked together to improve both of our times, or we got caught and it was up in the air again, so he did give me a quick turn as I think he saw sense, we worked well on the downhills and I could tell I was going better than he was, and we were catching the leading 3.

We passed by the 1km to go board and the 3 were 30 meters ahead, the bunch was maybe 10 seconds back, it was going to be tight, we made the bridge to the front three who started to look round, a bit of gentle encouragement to not look round and ride and we were on our way, I sat on for 25 secs or so and the line was in sight, at this point I came through to do my turn as the bunch were gaining on us, I felt good, and with maybe 200 or so meters to go I opened up a sprint from the front, I knew it was not the best idea to be leading it out, but I dug in and nobody was coming round me, my legs were in agony but I kept going, a quick shoulder check and I could see nobody was going to come round and I crossed the line, arms aloft to take the win! Bloody brilliant feeling, I knew at this point I’d likely won the overall with the 30 sec bonus the win gave me.

Photo again from www.grahamrobbins.net

rr1

After a quick chat we rolled back to the HQ (it was freezing by now) and waited around for the result, which took some time, I was careful not to start talking like I had won until it was confirmed, but everyone said it was probably a done deal, including Rob Yeatman who had finished in the bunch. Finally a spreadsheet went up on the projector and it was done, I had won by 32 seconds with Rob finishing in 2nd. I was over the moon! A quick presentation of the prizes, I did well out of this race having pocketed top cash prizes for the overall and the RR and 2nd in the TT, and was presented with the ‘yellow jersey’ courtesy of Team Axiom, who put on a great race and organised it very well.

My best result to date, 48 points netted, and generally a great day that even the turd English weather couldn’t spoil!

Photo from www.grahamrobbins.net
yellow

TT here
Road Race here

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2 Responses to “Tour Of The Milburys”

  1. Captain Buckles June 2, 2013 at 8:13 pm #

    Great story.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Tour of Sussex preview | stuckbehindbars - July 26, 2013

    […] of Rob Sharland, who I think is one of the favourites for the GC – especially and after his success at the Tour of Milbury’s. I’ll be looking to collect as many points as possible to hopefully extend my lead in the […]

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