Robin Parker writes…
14th September. LVRC GS Henley Road Race.
It’s only 3 weeks until the Giro di Lombardia (Tour of Lombardy). The 2014 season really is nearly over! Only slightly less auspicious than Lombardia, which is the final “monument” of what is now the World Tour, this weekend was the final round of the LVRC MStina masters road race series promoted by GS Henley. Six laps of an almost flat nine mile circuit held in bright sunshine.
With a full field packed out with some good riders, the race got off to a cracking start with attack following attack as riders attempted to force a split. The first two laps passed with barely a lull, but with no break managing to establish a lead. I was starting to think that nothing was going to move until the last couple of laps when legs would be sure to tire.
Inevitably when you think this, four guys managed to force themselves away and set about establishing a small lead. In my head, I was still thinking that this was too early but with the move looking dangerous the urgency in the bunch increased. It was shortly after half distance that another eight or so riders escaped the clutches of the bunch – in ones and twos initially, but they joined forces and set about establishing a gap on the bunch. Unfortunately I was not in the move and was left floundering in the bunch.
The bunch chased for a lap or so. But it was pretty evident that the guys with the power left in their legs were up the road and although the bunch was able to keep the break in sight for a lap or so, we were never going to get them back. And that was pretty much my race done.
I did contemplate going for the bunch sprint. With a couple of kilometres to go I moved up to the head of affairs to take up a position on the outside of the bunch right on the central double white lines. With a dead straight, slightly uphill finish you could see the chequered flag from over a kilometre away. But this was an A road with white lines down the middle and a fair bit of traffic about. So when riders started moving up on my outside – on the wrong side of the road – I decided that really didn’t want any part of a dangerous sprint for what would be about 15th place or something.
So I soft pedalled, moved to the inside and dropped back through the bunch to watch from a safe distance behind. I wasn’t the only one. Chatting to a former Masters National Champion as we neared the yellow flag with 200metres to go, we speculated on whether we were far enough behind to miss a flying bike should someone sprint into an oncoming car. Fortunately our pessimism was unfounded and the bunch sprint passed without incident.
With the MSTina series finished, I just have a few Crits left now. If my form holds (and my legs are feeling OK at the moment) then I plan on a few visits down to Preston Park to ride some British Cycling sanctioned events in the hope of picking up the five points that I need to take my 2nd cat racing licence. And then I guess it’ll be time for mudguards and overshoes and thermal jerseys and long fingered gloves and getting that foundation in ready to do it all again in 2015!