On Easter Sunday, whilst most were sat eating chocolate, I was out racing the 152km Tim James Memorial National B. It was set to be a strong field out there, with many saying it was closer to a National A strength than a Nat B. The lap is largely flat, but punchy climbs punctuate the parcours, with multiple 200-500m climbs at 6-10% en route. A fast but testing course was to make it a tough race.
With this being the longest ever race I’d done, I decided to keep my powder dry in the first hour, but still managed to slot into a few big groups just to make sure the team was represented but not making any moves as such. Various splits slipped away, but it was too early for cooperation to begin.
After 1hr 30 of tentative moves, full blooded attacks began, and consequently the bunch split through the finish line climb, and a group of 15-20 riders went up the road, with the majority of teams represented. Fortunately, I had one teammate up there already in the shape of George Peden so was in the lucky position of waiting for others to make their move.
The gap was held at 30s for quite a while, with a lot of fire power still remaining in the bunch, but slowly group 2 syndrome crept into the peloton. With most teams represented, the gap went out to a minute at the 2hr mark.
With around 65k to go, over the top of Witham Hill the pace heated up, and I followed the front riders, resulting in me sneaking into a strong group of 8 riders, and after 45 long kilometres of organised chasing, we bridged the gap to the main body of the breakaway.
Once there I was just holding on to the group as I was cooked getting across, but I also thought I could do a decent finish in the sprint, so I surfed the wheels and saved energy, occasionally marking moves for George, who had done a fuga de la fuga (Literally break from the break – those who’ve watched the Movistar documentary will know!) and had gone clear once more. I waited again, and was feeling okay. However, once the sprint opened up, I began to go backwards, despite doing 500w the whole way up the finish climb!
Ultimately, I placed 26th, but I was in the front bunch and amongst a lot of strong riders at this level so happy with it. Probably my hardest earned 26th place ever too!