Ollie Hucks' account of stage 2 a hilly road race:
Stage 2 saw us take in 3 laps of a very 'draggy' circuit starting in Chepstow and finishing at the top of a long climb which ran out of the town. This was the same course used for the junior national champs previously this year so we knew it was going to be a testing circuit. The race rolled out of Chepstow leisure centre until the foot of the long and steady climb, here the race was de-neutralised and the pace was ferocious from the off. There was lots of constant surging as people tried to get away and current race leader Richard Bussell being marked with every attempt to slip off the front. The course involved the one long drag up from Chepstow then saw the pack descend for 10-15 minutes gradually with some steep uphill kicks, till we got to the foot of the climb again.
Rob and I made sure that we were in constant contact, making sure we knew where each other were during as much of the race as possible. Going past the finish line for the final time Rob and I were well positioned at mid to front of the bunch and knew we would have to hold our ground during the last lap to be well positioned going up the climb for the last time. The final descent to Chepstow was extremely quick and Rob and I were well positioned a few men from the front of the pack. The pace up the climb the final time was not too quick as the people at the front were unwilling to expend too much energy before the final and those further back in the bunch were unable to move up due to being warned if we were to cross the double white line we would be disqualified or penalised. This meant that once the double white lines finished and the single dashed line began the attacks came from left right and centre. It became a gamble of whose wheel to jump on as the road was not too wide and the finish line beckoned. This meant we could never really release a full sprint, but just sit on the lucky persons wheel that we had selected.
I managed to go across the line in 15th position, just behind fellow ex HWCC member George Clark with Rob finishing very close behind in 30th, both gaining the same time to go up to around 50th on General Classification at 1 minute 38 seconds. Fellow HWCC team mates Steve James and Jonathan Kingsbury came across the line in a splinter group roughly 10 minutes back. It was a very tough first day of proper racing and we all hope that the legs recover as well as possible and are fresh for a tough stage race and individual time trial tomorrow!