The Mid Devon sent Harrison Wood and Louie Priddle to the National Champs this year. Here’s how they got on:
Today was the big one and I was looking forwards to it. I had recovered over the week from my exploits in Spain and after driving the course the day before I felt like this course was suited to me. I arrived at HQ after staying in a nice B&B overnight. I pinned up and headed out on the road to warm up. A quick sight of the finish and we were lining up ready to go. I however started at the back forgetting I was no longer in a 200 man field but instead a 120 man field. Still I quickly bunny hopped onto the pavement and I was at the front sharpish. The pace started off fairly easy with a few attacks going but no big hitters were willing to go hard too early. Louie established himself into the early move and I remained hidden within the bunch. Resting where possible and gaining positions whenever I could. After a few laps not much had happened. The break consisted of 6 riders and the gap was fluctuating between around 15 seconds and 30 seconds for the first 30 odd miles of racing. At this point 2 strong riders slipped off the front just before we began the big loops. Then another 4 went off the front and I knew I could attack now and if necessary jump from group to group. However the gap to the break was now at 1.5 minutes with 40 miles to go.
I attacked on the run into the climb and quickly bridged across to the 4 on the climb. This was however when Tom Pidcock (pre race favourite) also attacked. I saw him bridging so put in a bigger effort to get to the top of the climb before him and a few others caught us. We were now all fully committed and we’re riding very hard. The gap continued to drop to the break and extend to the bunch. I knew that I’d made the selection of the favourites so was happy with that. We got across to the break and a group of 19 had formed. This as expected did not work very well together so on the final time up the climb Pidcock attacked and I couldn’t hold on other the top. 5 others managed to and I was stuck between both groups. I was swallowed up by the chasing group which contained around 11 riders. Sadly Louie had cramped up the climb but after the break that was to be expected! We held the gap at around 10 seconds but then the elastic broke and the group rode away. We all then decided to work together in order to not get caught by the bunch. This worked and my legs just gave up on me before the finish. I rolled in 15th out of the 120 starters which I was chuffed with!
I was very excited to be able to race in the Nat Champs, one of the biggest races for me this year!
The race set out through the neutralised section which was in the narrow streets of Wallingford. As we came on to the race circuit I moved my way up nicely to the front of the bunch where I was sitting about 10th wheel when some attacks started to go. One of the attacks was from Tom Torrie. This is definitely someone to follow if there was going to be a break.
About 2mins after Tim had attacked I went to bridge it. It took me around 5 mins to get to him as he was still pushing on trying to make the gap bigger. When I finally caught up with him we had about a 20-30 second lead on the peloton. Little groups made it to us but only the strongest from the groups could stick it, the rest dropped back. We had a group of 6 for 2 laps and we were working very efficiently with each other and pulling the same amounts of turns. We got to lap 3 when we could see the peloton about 20 seconds behind us, I thought this was our break over. And so did the others.
3 riders from the original 6 dropped back and went back to the peloton thinking it was over leaving 3 of us still up the road (me, Tim T and James T). It was us 3 for 1 whole lap and we did start to gain time on the peloton. The gap went up to 45 seconds. After that lap of PAIN I checked behind to see if there was anyone coming and I saw a group with Harrison and a load of others (about 10 others) this was kind of a relief to for me as I realised I could skip a couple turns and get my legs back for the final.
Last lap, a large group of us were up the road with a 1min 45 lead on the peloton. I was starting to feel it. A couple attacks started to go when we were half way around the last lap. I just didn’t have the legs to stay with them after being up the road for the entire race. I dropped back to the peloton and finished rolling over the line with them.
Overall I am very pleased with this, even though I wasn’t there to contest the sprint I still held my own in the break and managed to hold off the peloton until half way around the last lap.
Thanks to MDCC for the support as always and thanks to Dad for taking me to the race!