This month it was finally time to start my season on the road, kicking things off with the 134km Jock Wadley National B race in Essex. Located on Abberton Reservoir, the wind is often a factor, as there are many exposed sections, and there are a few short, sharp climbs to put a dent in the legs of many. The start list was strong, with full squads from St Piran, Richardson’s Trek-DAS and Embark-Spirit BSS present.
For us at Team PB Performance (https://www.pb-coaching.com/team-pb-performance/) it would be James Dent and Tom Charles that I lined up with.
As expected, it was a frantic pace as the race rolled out from the HQ(even in the neutral!). The race is released into the bottom of a short, steep kicker of a climb, and with that the first attacks went. The pace was high, and from what I could see, moves were mostly being covered over the country lanes on the first half of the course. However, once we turned onto the reservoir, it became apparent that there were more riders off the front than I realised!
A few groups went away on the first lap of 12, but I thought it was better to save my matches a bit, and try to get across later. There was little representation from big teams (ed. if I’d seen the exact riders that were away, I probably would have panicked!) in what turned out to be a 15 rider split so I didn’t feel the need to panic at such an early stage.
On the 2nd lap I attacked with a rider from St Piran and Richardsons, and we started to combine forces. We remained off the front in a trio for 10k before being caught by another group of 5 or 6, and we stayed at 20-30s behind the first group for almost an hour, and the gap started increasing again. St Piran started launching their riders across to the front, and I tried to go with one, but got completely guttered by him at 50kph and was dropped after a minute or so. He was the last to get across to the front, so it was worth the candle to attempt to stay with it, however there wasn’t exactly much I could do.
Eventually, the 15 rider “bunch” came up to us, and the last 50k were a get round mission, and then seeing what I could do in the final 5k or so, racing for whatever places were left. In my group, competing for the top 30, there were a flurry of late attacks, with a quartet darting off the front at 2k to go. I decided to wait for the final sprint, but we didn’t catch them. I took 3rd in the sprint from my group, finishing 35th overall.
All in all, it was an extremely long race, having to work in groups from almost the off. Maybe the result didn’t show my shape the best, but I still felt that I had good legs coming into the April race block. I think I would still play the race the same way if I did it again, but hopefully I can grow at some point, which would help see who’s going up the road.