Edge Hill, the stuff of dreams for those cyclists that enjoy unleashing their inner goat. Sam, Seb and I would no doubt all say that we enjoy it when the road goes up, so the circuit just outside of Banbury that takes in three ascents of Edge Hill was something we were all looking forward to in the Banbury Star RR on 27th May.
A neutralised roll out onto the course swiftly followed by the flag being reeled into the car, racing getting underway and two guys absolutely pinging it off the front. They quickly establishing a healthy lead, even going out of sight for large sections of the first lap, although one soon dropped back into the bunch saying he just couldn't hold the wheel of the guy up the road.
The first time up Edge Hill was as expected, full gas, with Seb and I getting into a small group of roughly six riders who then began to work well together over the top of the climb, we were soon bought back by the main bunch, with Sam well nestled in it. The pace was then rather sedate as people rolled through at the front and with still half the race to go we were told the lone rider had 1 minute 45 on the bunch, which after asking a few people who this guy was up the road they said he was an ex 1st cat so I thought perhaps he would never be seen again. The second time up Edge Hill was much the same, smash it up the climb and see who's around you at the top, and yet again the same guys got a gap on the main bunch, we worked well together but were again brought back just before the line and going through the line to take the bell we collected what can only be described as a 'shell'; the lone leader didn't quite have the Froome-esque credentials and said that the second time up the climb he really blew his doors. Fair play for giving it a go though.
Coming into the climb for the final time I knew being near the front was critical since it could be third time lucky for the 'goataway' and this time to take the line when it really counts, with Sam planted on my wheel and Seb a few wheels ahead everything seemed to be inflating towards an explosive finish. Sadly this was not how things played out for myself since my rear wheel swiftly deflated after going over a stone which meant my race was over; gutted would be an understatement. Seb got away with the same group as with the previous two attempts and this time it stuck to the line, trying to do a mini-Froome from over 1k out from the line, then in his own words 'parking' on the final kick to the line but still coming away with 5th, a very strong result in his 2nd ever race and great to see him smashing it whilst on a Cycling sabbatical from the Chopathlon life. Sam was agonisingly close to making the selection over the top of the climb but finished in a chase group coming over the line in roughly 15th position, showing great progression in his results over the past few months and this will no doubt continue as he continues to deploy some serious watts.
A strong showing from the HWCC youths, along with the Seniors putting in a good showing the previous day at the ORRL road race near Arncott. Up the Wycombe!