The Guildford Town Centre races this year (LWCR league round 8) included a women's race for the first time. Organiser Jon Lewis said "It was fantastic to see the women of the LWCR entertaining the crowds with a fine race. I think many cyclists dread cobbles and corners in races but what differentiates the Guildford circuit it that the cobbles are only on the uphill section of the course. This leads to very safe racing conditions as the race breaks up very quickly and each rider can ride as hard as they dare without fear of the bumps from other riders that can mar other events. It usually only takes a lap or two for riders to realise this and then the best part is when the apprehension has been dispelled and the riders come back into the moment and realised that they will be carried around the circuit by a large and enthusiastic cheering crowd. Thanks to the support of the LWCR the event was a success and I hope to make the womens race a regular feature in coming years.
Emily Bagnall from Wyndymilla UK Youth has written a report from a rider's point of view:
The setting, Guildford Town Centre. The terrain, a Criterium with Pave! Twenty minutes plus ten laps of the half mile circuit on the closed streets of the city centre. Twists, corners, climbs, descents, cobbles and great crowd support.
Cobbles hold a special place in the history of cycling, any cycle fan will argue their are few cyclists greater than the winner of a classics race, they require guts, pure physical strength and the skill and tenacity to cope with miles and miles of farm track and pave aka cobbles.
Guildford's own cobbled event is rapidly becoming a classic, it's been growing year on year under the watchful eyes of Eddy Lewis, this year see's the inclusion of a women's race and it's a welcome addition to the season.
The race starts and within a couple of laps the peloton is stretched out. 'Hitting the cobbles the first time is an eye opener, in practice you don't take them at that speed, they literally shake the bones, but it adds to the whole atmosphere'. Bikes rattle, teeth rattle, bones rattle. The shouts and cheers from the crowd lift the competitors over the cobbles and onwards.
Its a fantastic race, an intense 'eye balls out' half hour, with no time for any respite if positions are to be held onto. The harder the leader drives to retain their lead, the harder you have to follow, there is no resting in, no hiding, this is why some crits feel epic, and the crowd knows it, they roar support and delight with every lap.
The bell laps sing like angels in the ears of the competitors. The lead group has been reduced to three strong riders Natalie Creswick of Mulebar Girls, Corrine Hall of Node 4 Giordana and Jo McRae of Look Mum No hands. Natalie has been looking strong throughout and accelerates off the front, riding a solo break to claim first place. Jo and Corrine battle for 2nd and 3rd with Corrine taking it on the line. A short pause and then more riders follow, sprinting for the line, pushing all the way. A fantastic event with generous prizes for riders to tenth place.
The Podium: Corrine Hall, Natalie Creswick and Jo McRae.