Bloody Steve Jones. His last lap breakaway was looking so promising to take the win with an 7km solo effort that watching from behind I was already excitedly planning on how I would tell his tale of derring-do on this blog. But sadly he didn't win and was caught agonizingly close with only 500m to go.
Post Race Debrief...
Me: "I assume you were going all out 100% to win on that last lap weren't you Steve?"
Steve "No, i thought i was going to get caught"
So having ruined the story, I will now attempt to make the race blog just as interesting as Niagara again without any of us on the podium, but in a significant advancement in results, 2 riders in the top 10! I also call upon my fellow team mates (Chris, Steve and Jody) and Andrea, Andrew M (E3), Paul McK(E2) Peter S(M2) to furnish us with their own tales of heroism in the form of contemporary bicycle racing.
The KW classic is a road race around an 11.5km loop over rolling roads with one significant climb of 1.45-2 minutes of hard effort right after the start of each lap. In E4 we do 6 laps. E4 was 30 strong and lots of familiar faces were present from past races. Our team today was Chris Wu, Steve Jones, Jody Nick Brown and myself. We also nominally team up with Taylor Ford from ToWheels due to the BCC relationship.
The first lap was really just a tester with nothing interesting happening. The roads were perfect and the weather stunning. This would prove to be awesome race conditions, and as races go this was an absolute cracker. The second lap was the start of the breakaways. The Bateman Boys were back (see Niagara blog) and trying their hand. Probably 3 or 4 attempts were made to break and I found myself right on the front marking each of them. They were not too difficult to bring back and it was quite fun, but I was aware that due to adrenaline i was probably working harder than my perceived effort at the time. Lap three saw a rider from London sit on the front the entire lap, trying to push the pace. He looked a little green so i made a point of sitting on his wheel the entire way round and when he frantically waved his elbow to encourage me to come through to lead the race I just dodged and weaved in a slightly comical fashion to ensure he stayed on the front. Good tactic I thought to wear him out. mwahhaaahaha.
Lap 4 saw "London Boy" go off on a solo breakaway and this time we let him go. The Gentlemen's club at the front of the peleton had a quick committee meeting, proposed, seconded and passed a motion that no one would chase due to the perceived futility of his break. We rode slowly. On lap 5 he was back! Let the minutes show that the correct decision was made.
Lap 5 was even slower as it became apparent that breakaways would be really hard to make stick and it was looking like it was going to be a group sprint for the line. I decided that on the last lap (6) due to my congenital absence of sprinting genes that I needed to go early and hit the climb at the start of the lap. I have felt very strong on punchy hills recently and knew that this hill was my best chance. I knew i could generate enough watts to haul my 84kg carcass over the top in front. I absolutely gunned it like a man possessed. Tongue out. I think i had my eyes closed. My heart rate hit 178. I have never seen that number on my heart rate trace before! It worked. I broke away and flew down the other side with three others that joined me. We had put 10-15 seconds on the pack. We immediately agreed to work together and made strides to make it stick. I actually thought we could do it, but 2-3km later, to my utter dismay the peleton caught us, I was gutted. I knew that i emptied the tank on the climb, and that was probably my race done.
But then......like an angel from the heavens, and in textbook fashion, just as i was caught, the old one-two punch: Steve Jones just cycled nonchalantly off the front and they just let him go. On the last lap!!! Taylor sat on the front and tried to hold up the chase. I sat in 4th sort of doing the same but my mind was elsewhere, mainly constructing a grandiose account of the ride to describe Steve's epic win. Seven km he managed off the front and was looking absolutely solid, as he normally does, only to be caught 500m from the line. Crushed!! The last 300m was an uphill sprint to the line and elbows were duly sharpened. I gave it my all but made little ground on the left, but scything through the field on the right were Chris and Jody to take 6th and 10th respectively! Great sprinting by the chaps! I came in 18th and Steve 22nd to round off the results. We were all given the same time as we finished in the pack. The average pace for the race was 37.6km/h.
Its a funny thing that we didn't really have a team plan, but actually assumed quite appropriate roles which gave the team a fair result. I like being up front and playing a role in how the race unfolds. Steve is a strong and stealthy rider and was perfectly poised to take a solo breakaway and Chris and Jody have great sprints for the deciding moves. We all made a difference today and improved upon disappointing elements from the last race. If we can stick together next year and perhaps get a few more of you to join us, and we get lots fitter, and better at climbing, and breakaways and sprinting and....uh, I think we could really do well as a team.
Huge thanks to Christophe and Phallon for coming along to support the team, take some pics and offer world of advice. It means a lot to us to have support at these races.