With the London Criterium championships today being held at Hillingdon, ed this race was a support race for one of the bigger races this year other than the Inverse GP. The weather was fine and there was a moderate wind in the air that would make the racing a struggle for shelter if you were a weaker or less able rider.
With myself only needing 1 point to move up to 3rd category racing it was definite team orders that the other 2 riders Darryl and Phil work for me in the race. I have been needing only 1 point to move up for the last 2 and a half months and with only 2 races till the end of what will be my summer campaign of races time was running out. Despite having been at work since 0430 this morning I was feeling on fire as I had a good rest since racing last week as had not raced all week and had only been out on a short mid week training ride of around 30 miles.
As we were getting ready I had asked Phil to try and give me some shelter on the last few laps from about 5 to go, buy in previous weeks I have noticed he has ridden strongly and has immense power to hold a good pace and not buckle. Darryl was our backup plan and a plan B incase I got boxed in as he has the uncanny ability to find the gaps and hold pace with relative ease. Darryl is definitely one to watch in the next couple of seasons when his experience is gained.
The tactic and orders for the race were to do nothing for the first half which we did with ease, advice we all managed to stay in the bunch in good shape and sheild from the wind. The only thing we had decided to do was to keep an eye out on a couple of riders who are very talented and quite high profile incase they paired off and tried any attacks. Anything else was fair game to have a go as generally most 4th cat riders dont have sufficient power output to stay away even in relatively big groups, its pure physics that dictates that and a rule you can not cheat!
About half way in to the race a break formed of about 5 riders of which 2 of the marked men were within, this was a break that could not be let to get too far away, Phil and I both marked the attack, stayed with it then counter attacked to liven up the race to see if the bunch would fall and let 2 team mates time trial off the front together. Phils excellent triathlon pace was blistering but the efforts of the bunch after we had done 3/4 of a lap out front was what I felt too much for us to sustain so I suggested we fall back and save it for a sprint where I knew I would be in for the cool runnings.
With the remaining laps of the race Phil sat near the front making sure he marked anything that was looking like it had half a bikefood bars worth of energy in it, Darryl poised further back watching every move incase he was needed to go for plan B. With 2 laps to go I said to Phil as we went over the start finnish straight keep on going, dont die, go faster as I need a strong leadout which he duly did and it paid off well. Coming in to the last lap Phil was on the inside and drifted back a little there which was nice as it meant that I could go on the left of him for the line and anyone else would have to go around the outside the long way around us both.
I had a word coming down the last couple of bends with some of the other riders who wanted the win, I said I’m happy for you to take the win if I can have a top 10 as all I want is 1 point. Them fearing my sprint I had to offer them more for them to believe what I was saying, I had to offer to lead out the sprint in the last bend which I happily did. Again from the law of physics, if I kick first I get a gap and then they have to be reactive, so if I lead out, kick with my sprint full gas then they will have to chase me just to get back level, this worked as coming out of the last bend I sprinted full gas and got a gap of about 2 bike lengths which I pretty much held until about 30 meters from the line where a few riders passed me. Job done however as I rolled in with 7th place and the goal that we had set out to achieve we had done.
Planning a race and having a more clear tactic as we did today was a definite help. Our plan was to do the following and we achieved all of them.
1. dont chase anything or do anything till half the race is gone
2. know who is feeling good and who you are going to support in the sprint
3. keep the sprinter in position in the last 5 or 6 laps at all costs
4. have a backup or a wild card who can perform incase things dont go according to plan
5. get 2 of us in the top 10 of todays race
6. dont get brought down in any crashes as it incurs costs and lost time through injuries
7. know who is performing well out of the competition from previous weeks and try marking them
8. be dynamic with a plan incase opportunities rise and the ball is in your court