The Roy Thame Cup, E12. Bunch finish
''Was feeling very nervous about this race. A scan of the start sheet mid-week revealed over 20 elite riders from strong teams, and a recent national champion from the track (Bigham). Nerves were getting the better of me Thu/Fri but fellow racers Karla and Ollie sent messages wishing me all the best - I think they realised how I must be feeling. I traveled up solo in the car, whilst the Prodigy kept me company for pre-race tunes, and it was nice to see some familiar and friendly faces at sign-on desk on arrival.
Was not going to risk the Zipp wheels on this circuit, its renowned for massive pot holes. I decided upon my giant carbon wheel on the front and my commute wheel on the rear. So glad I did.... never have I done so many bunny hops. Hearing that Paul Cope and Bob McGlue both retired earlier in the day from the spring chicken with punctures, was happy to leave the Zipp's and S-Works at home. The Giant Propel was the machine for the day.
The race started and was content to float at the rear of the pack for the start. Man, I really was nervous. But there is no getting away from a bit of hard work with this company, so when a few gaps open up I tested the legs, and was encouraged with the response. I saw Josh from Hemel CC near me, and we joked we should try and start a break like last year when we placed 2nd and 3rd in the spring chicken. Toward the 2nd lap I moved up further to get a good look at the pack and who was doing what. Saw a few guys I know and said hello, and after a bit of chat i felt much more at home. The action heated up and because I was near the front there were lots of gaps to close and attacks to respond to. A few times I found myself in a small move off the front, but we never really got far and I wasn't about to totally commit this early in the race. A break did go, with a few big guns, and that was the move where 12 or so got away.
Spirt Tifosi rode well. With Ed Clemens (their leader) in the break they rest of their team covered anything that moved. It made for a race where each attack was about a minute long, and roughly 800-1000 watts each time to kick and surge with the move. I'm not strong enough to get in a break with the leaders but If a splinter group went I wanted to be in it. At times there were lots of small groups on the road but it always came back together.
The sprint was a fast affair, and I admit to thinking there could be a crash if it got silly. I went with the early surges for the bunch sprint and just made sure I did enough to not get boxed in and came over the line toward the front of the bunch.
Ed Clemens took the win, and chatting to him later he said this was an important one for him. He's a top bloke and on some amazing form. The Propel was brilliant to race, it felt super stiff for responding to attacks, shall be using it again for flat or rolling circuits. I cramped up a little on the last lap having run out of water with 20m to go, but nothing too major. Bloody love bike racing.''