Robin Parker writes…
12th May. LVRC MSTina jersey series, Round 3 – A/B cats promoted by Swindon RC. 46m.
A short video of the race can be viewed on YouTube HERE
Long drive out to Swindon for round 3 of the MSTina jersey series – which I was leading after the first two rounds. I’ve raced here before. Three and a half laps, finishing the fourth time up a short sharp hill finish that suits me quite well. Form wise, I am half way through a two week taper to prepare for the TLI National Crit champs next weekend. For the technically minded, my TSS (Training Stress Score – see http://home.trainingpeaks.com/articles/cycling/what-is-the-performance-management-chart.aspx for more info) moved from very negative last week (indicating block of hard training and state of fatigue) to close to zero this weekend, and should be nicely positive (indicating state of rest and “form”) for next weekend. Simply stated – I was hoping to do a good ride today!
I was very active on the first lap, leading the bunch onto the hill finish the first lap. The hill failed to split the bunch and the left turn at the top into a block head wind discouraged breakaways over the top. The second ascent of the hill was raced at a brisk pace with the stronger riders coming to the fore to drive the pace on. But again, the turn into the headwind made it difficult for any moves to escape.
The pace eased a little on the 3rd lap with two riders managing to escape the bunch but failing to make any real impressing. They were reeled in as we climbed the finish hill for the 3rd time to take the bell. As the bunch stretched to catch the breakaway, a lone rider attacked over the top and managed to steal a march on the bunch. Most riders in the bunch (myself included) didn’t realise that some “fresh legs” had escaped the bunch and assumed that the rider dangling off the front was one of the weaker riders that had been away earlier and hence didn’t present any risk. But this lone escaper was a strong time-trialist, and as everyone started to look at each other and think about the finish – he disappeared into the distance never to be seen again!
The rest of us arrived at the foot of the finish hill as a large bunch. I pushed up close to the front of the bunch, confident that I could execute a good sprint just as long as I didn’t get boxed. With a strong cross wind blowing from the left I positioned myself slightly to the right of the front rider and about in the middle of the left hand side of the road. As we neared about 400m to go I could sense riders moving up on my right (on the sheltered side of the road). A Dulwich rider was first to move.
It was way too early for an uphill finish. But I had the choice to act now, or risk getting swamped by a surge of riders. So I accelerated. Not too hard, but enough to more than match the Dulwich rider and as I did so I drifted into the right hand gutter to completely close the door on any riders hoping to surge up that side of the road. As the road kicked up steeply with about 200m to go, I kicked down hard on the pedals. 100m to go and the gradient eased off slightly. I looked back and found I had a good few bike lengths gap. I dropped it into a bigger gear to push it onto the finish to take the bunch sprint with a length or two to spare – but with lungs absolutely bursting! It was way too early for a sprint – but just right for a 1 minute anaerobic hill interval. And boy, do those babies hurt!
So 2nd in the race, and 1st in age category. That will strengthen my position in the points series. But it’s still early days (3 rounds out of 11 completed, best 7 to count) for the series, so I’ll just keep taking them one round at a time. More pleasing is that my form seems to be coming right on plan. The finishing surge is feeling good and proving effective. So I’m about as ready as I can be for the Crit Champs next weekend. Now I “just” need to race well and then see what happens…