The sun was out, I was with my favourite bunch of girls and we were riding our bikes. No matter what the result was, it was going to be a good day.
Nicole, Jasmijn and Maryka drove the pace pretty hard for the first few laps in order to make the bunch a little bit smaller and safer. So hard in fact that they didn’t even notice the pile up that happened on the first lap due to some pot hole dodging and brakes going on up a hill?! Nicole was on pretty awesome form and went up the road to take the first prime too.
The pace stayed pretty high with the usual committed suspects having some good digs off the front including Helen, Nicole, Jasmijn, Maryka, Astrid and Tanya plus a few others, but nothing stuck.
Now this week after a disappointing divs, i’ve had it forced into me by a couple of people in my life (you know who you are) that it’s better to try and fail than come away disappointed after getting caught up in crashes or failing in a bunch sprint. So with that in mind, I attacked on one of the hills with Tanya (Ipswich), and Elizabeth (twenty3c) coming with me… we got a gap and were thankfully joined by Laura, Maryka, Anna and Bryony shortly after. Heads down and through and off for the next 3 laps, knowing full well my awesome team mates would be slowing and blocking the bunch – I love them.
So I got 3rd…my first proper podium in a road race, which i’m really pleased with. But it really was down to Coralie, Nikki, Nicole and Helen doing such a fab job and bossing the bunch so much so that the break came in 4 mins ahead. Awesome!
Then to top it all off, Nikki wins the bunch sprint. Our team rocks!
From the bunch… (Nicole)
Now, for some reason I had it in my head that there would be some type of food reward for winning the prime, possibly due to midweek chat with Lydia about pie primes at Palace. Anyway, I decided I was going to go for it, and attacked on the hill before the finish line, which to my subsequent surprise, was quite a long way from it. But with a reasonable size gap, I hung on just fine, and was rewarded with money, which I now feel obliged to spend on cakes and chocolate.
I was 2nd or 3rd wheel when Kate attacked, her little legs spinning at a million miles an hour as is her trademark. She and two other girls got a decent gap, so I sat in and hoped they might properly get away. As we rounded the corner to begin the long-ish drag, more than half a dozen other girls tried to jump to make the gap. I had to decide quickly whether to try to make the jump myself, or try to stop others getting on. In the end, I decided just to mark a couple of wheels, which worked out well as only 4 got on to make a group of 8 (later 7), and they started to sail off up the road.
Now, slowing the bunch is probably my favourite job in racing! The 4 remaining Filles moved to the front and did our best to block, slow, disrupt, and generally be pains in the arse. The gap (announced fantastically by the loudhailer from the support vehicles behind!) grew from 20sec to 30sec, but they were still tentalisingly in sight on the straighter parts of road. More slowing needed. The Filles moved continuously to the front, sides and in the middle of chase lines, like peloton bouncers. 1min… 2min… 2.5min… Eventually we managed to beat the enthusiasm out of all the chasers, and everyone sat up and rode around at the speed of a Sunday club run. Job done.
Well, not quite. There were still minor places to contest, plus it was now getting a bit dull, so a few of us tried to launch some attacks and crank up the pace on the last lap. I think I had burnt a few too many matches early trying to keep the pace up in what was a fairly long race (95km in the end), culminating in my legs imploding half way up the long drag during an attack with Astrid. So a bunch sprint it would have to be. Nikki came through like a stream train to take the sprint for 8th (with Helen right on her wheel) without even getting out of her saddle!
We were over-joyed to find out that Kate had picked up 3rd, and felt proud that it had been a real team effort on this occasion. Our shiny one on the podium. Definitely a good day.
Thanks to Huw Williams once again for the action shots