Robin Parker writes…
18th August. Portsdown RR – LVRC MSTina jersey series, Round 9 – A&B cats Portsdown Hill.
The Portsdown Hill circuit is, as the name suggests, a tough circuit with some fantastic views out over the Solent. That is if you have time to take them in and aren’t battling for a wheel in the vicious cross wind along the top of the hill! The A&B cat race was run over 6 ½ laps with the finish atop about 1km of false flat after a short, sharp 10% climb.
The first couple of laps were run off at a fairly brisk tempo with no moves of significance gaining any ground. It was after the 4th ascent of the climb and in the aforementioned cross-tail wind drag across the top of Portsdown that the race exploded.
Four strong guys hit the front and as they kept the pace high, gaps started appearing all the way down the bunch. I was fairly handily placed and able to spring-board up to the front jumping off a few wheels and forcing my way back up to the front. I was one of the last two across making a 6 strong leading break. I wasn’t to know it at the time, but behind a chase group of 10 or so riders formed and that was pretty much race over for everyone else.
Our group worked well together riding strongly for a lap before settling down into a more comfortable rhythm for the last 2 laps. I was in the somewhat comfortable position of being the only B cat in the break and was thus assured of at least an age category “win”. Obviously that was great from an MSTina point series perspective – but there was still a race to be won or lost and the racer within me is never going to be happy to settle just for that!
Bizarrely everyone seemed content to roll around until the final climb, a mile or so from the finish. This suited me perfectly as I fancied my chances either on the climb or if it came down to a sprint. But surely the other guys can’t all have thought that they were going to win the sprint? Who knows. And I’m certainly not complaining!
I dropped to the back of the break as we approached the climb so that I could keep an eye on everyone. I could see that there were some tired legs there, but I was also worried about Steve Dring of Team Echelon who I had marked out as a man to watch before the race – and who was looking like the strongest in the break. I figured that I might have 2 chances. I would attack the climb and see what damage that did. If I could get a gap, then I would press on over the top and hope to hang on to the finish. And if I didn’t get a good enough gap then I would wait, recover as best I could and take my chances in the sprint.
As we hit the steep part of the climb, I launched up the inside from the back of the break. Not flat out, but hard none the less. Hard enough to hopefully do some damage, but leaving enough in the tank to ensure that I wouldn’t die in the cross wind, false flat section to the finish. To be honest, I was expecting to be marked and to have to wait for the sprint. But when I looked around as I crested the steep section I could see that I had a good gap. Plan A it is then! I pushed on and committed fully to the move. A glance back with maybe 500m to go and I could see one rider trying to come across. Glance back again at the left hand turn at about 200m to go. I still have a good gap. One final acceleration out of the corner and I have enough time to get my hands in the air for a proper victory celebration. Another win. Yes!
The win gives me enough points to retake the lead in the season long MSTina points competition with just 2 rounds remaining. It’s all going to come down to the last round (which is a “Double Points Finale”) on 6th October.