Deliveroo Westpoint Crit – 5th July
I’m very pleased to report that I have finally got a road win under my belt this season. It came on my favourite circuit, Westpoint nr Exeter, a fast Crit circuit, but one which incorporates a short power climb, which suits my riding style.
This season has been a bit up and down for me – a punishing schedule through winter saw me start the season with great legs with early TT wins and RR podiums, but a road win proved elusive. Then a severe bout of food poisoning left me bedridden for a week and stopped me training properly for 4 weeks, losing much of the fitness I’d gained. Once recovered Conrad, who has been coaching me this season, told me not to lose heart, he felt I had a broad enough base of training to add-in some speed work to regain my fitness. A 3 week block of high intensity sessions interspersed with Crit and 10m TT races followed. The results have been encouraging with 4, 3rd places in both TT’s and Crit’s over the last three weeks.
I suspected that tonight might be ‘my night’, as a last night’s sprint interval session felt much easier than it should have done – suggesting that my ‘form’ had arrived.
I arrived at Westpoint later than I would have liked, leaving me only 15 minutes to warm up – I prayed for a steady start to the 45 minute race, to let me find my legs – fortunately I got it. Conditions were windy, discouraging attacks and so I decided not to make an early move, doing turns on the front, but being careful not show my hand (or should that be legs?) too early.
After 15 minutes Jack Salvage of Exeter Wheelers made his move – he built up a lead of about a third of a lap – Jack’s a strong rider and rides very quick TT’s – a good breakaway partner. I decided to play a waiting game and see how he fared in the wind. After ten minutes he was still clear and looking good, so I decided to try to jump across to him. I attacked up the climb, bridging to him in just over a lap, but to be honest, I’d jumped way too hard and put myself into the red – I then found myself struggling to maintain the pace. Within a couple of laps the bunch had reeled us in – I’d burnt a match and showed my hand – not too clever!
After that a succession of breaks went, each of which were enventually reeled back – It was nerve-racking, I didn’t want to burn more matches by chasing, but feared each break could be ‘the one’ and that I risked losing the opportunity to win by not being in it. I jumped away a couple of times to bridge, but was now being watched like a hawk and any effort brought a reaction from the bunch.
Into the closing laps a group of three snuck off the front and gained 10 seconds – they were working together well and looked dangerous. I jumped on the hill again to go across, taking a number of riders on my wheel, but not wanting to drag a group across I attacked again on the subsequent drag, shelling the other riders. I reached the break as they were starting the descent but was carrying much more speed than them – I made a split second decision to carry on past them and put my head down – full gas!
Luckily for me, next time around, I got the 3 laps to go signal, I dug as deep as I could attacking the climb each lap, driving into the descent, and trying to catch my breath during the split seconds of respite on each corner. My pulse hit 196 bpm – a season’s high – and I was able to open up a 20 second gap by the bell. The gap gave me the opportunity to ease off during the final half lap and to finally get my hands in the air as I crossed the line.
Photo credit – Ann Owens