Robin Parker writes…
Tue 26th June. LVRC evening criterium at Gravesend Cyclopark.
It is often said that bike race results are like buses. You wait all season for a win and then two come along at once. Err, OK, so that’s not said as often as all that. But you should keep the phrase handy just in case the need ever arises
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. And anyhow Parker, didn’t you race at the weekend or what? Well yes, thank-you very much for asking – but I don’t want to talk about it! Having become royally miffed that I have beaten them in every round of the MSTina series so far, the GS Vecchi guys combined together to properly work me over. I was of course deeply flattered to have been given such personal attention. But let’s move along now…
And so to another sunny Tuesday evening at the Gravesend Cylcopark. Having seen the results from last week, I looked up the primary “personage of a time trialling persuasion” of whom I spoke last time and who had been chasing all the moves down. Chap by the name of Peter Tadros. That was a new name on me, but I suspect not on some of you as I am given to believe that he’s pretty quick around local time trials. Anyhow, he was back again this week and the race followed a similar pattern with Mr Tadros coming to the front and chasing down anything that moved.
Two riders escaped at about ¾ distance and managed to eke out a 15 second lead. Our man Peter moved to the front and led the bunch round for lap after lap after lap after lap, just pegging the ambitious duo to around the 15 second mark. When the 3 laps to go board came out, a few others tried to make some moves. This lifted the pace a little and the two escapees were quickly reeled in.
At the bell it was grupo compacto with our man still tapping out a rhythm on the front. But that didn’t last much longer as the rest of the bunch were eager to wind things up in advance of the sprint. Once again, I already had the plan clear in my head leading into the last lap. With no one away this week, there was no need to go for the super-long sprint. And there wasn’t such a strong tail-wind on the finishing straight this week which would have made a longer sprint harder and more risky. No, this week I was going to stay near the front and wait until the line was in sight.
There were a few abortive attempts by people trying to escape in advance of the sprint. But no one was able to press an advantage and I held my place in the first half dozen riders. When we rounded the final corner onto that long finishing drag, a brave soul tried to launch an early sprint. I was on him immediately. Unfortunately his ambition was far stronger than his legs and this guy died hideously in short order. But I spotted the movement in my peripheral vision and I leap immediately to the wheel of the next rider who fancied their chances of a longer sprint. This guy is a little stronger and we’re now moving fast enough to line the bunch out. This guy delivers me nicely to about 250m mark when I decide that it’s time to open things up properly.
I jump to the right and can sense that another rider has jumped to the left. He’s making ground on me ever so slightly. As we get to about 100 to go he’s closed to within a bike length or so. But that’s as close as he gets and from that point on, he fades and I can feel the gap widening. By the line I feel safe enough to get my hands in the air to celebrate in the traditional style. Yes, that feels good!
So two wins from my last two visits to the Cyclopark. I shall return there on Sunday for the LVRC Regional Crit Champs. Can I make it a hat-trick? That would be very nice, but it won’t be easy. The field will be bigger at the weekend and there is a regional title at stake. And with these recent wins I might as well paint a big target on the back of my jersey as a man to watch. And I expect that our man Peter will be off doing his time-trialling thing at the weekend, so I won’t have a one man pursuit team to bring everything nicely together for a big bunch sprint. I might need a new plan…