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Abingdon Race Team Winter Crit Series #1 Featured

Race reports from men and women battling the elements!

Abingdon Race Team Winter Crit Series #1

Saturday 3 February 2018


Men’s Cat 4 by Pete Smith

Condors descended down on Dalton in force this morning! With the standard Dalton weather lined up of freezing temperatures and a lot of rain (would you expect anything less) we knew the race would be tough.

The Cat 4 line up bolstered a relatively inexperienced group of racers but contained some strong work horses! David Holland making his racing Debut and Luke Lorenzini learning how to race in the typical English weather. The senior Mark Robert Glendinning providing experience in the pack and Poll Pollard and Young pup Stephen George Johnson bringing the Watts in. All was left was for me to keep the guys on the game plan!

The plan was simple... Attack using the strong lads of Poll and Stephen the aim was to get them in a breakaway. Sadly at Cat 4 not many other riders want to put their chips on the table and jump in.

The race started at a steady pace with riders looking after each other in the treacherous conditions. Early on I teed things off with a little dig at the front to remind people we are racing! This was quickly shut down then a member of the VC venta team jumped up front and we flirted for a-bit but nothing to deep went off the front. As we was all brought back coming out the following corner Stephen jumped out the pack and flexed his muscles. With Condors packing on the front of the group to disrupt the chase Stephen made some ground but importantly it forced the rest of the group to work at bringing it back. 

With Stephen getting caught it was Polls turn to flash the pink and black at the front... same principle again made some ground but it kept the chase working hard to bring it in. Mark marshalled the front and disrupted the chase which gave some much needed recovery for me and Stephen in the pack. 

More attacks followed from myself Stephen and Poll to keep the race animated. With the clock striking the half way and Stephen, Mark and Poll keeping control of the front of the pack, it was time for Debutant David to show his TT prowess. With a huge dig off the front and settling into his tempo, David stayed away for 2 and a half laps and made the chase group really suffer. 

With the race approaching final laps and the guys aggressive strategy not quite giving us the breakaway we wanted... it resorted to us getting lined up for the sprint. 

Good work from Poll and Stephen kept Condors at the front until the last lap. Poll got disengaged through a corner and lost ground with Mark and David. With a big effort though they worked through the field to find their way near the front going into the last corner. 

Stephen led the Condors through the last corner and went really early (a country mile from the line) with me stuck on his wheel, digging deep and managing to hold his position right up to the line. Picking up a solid 3rd place and some pocket money with it. A 5th place for me and Poll, Mark and David opening up their sprint to finish solidly in the group! 

Great racing in nasty conditions! 

Finally a massive thank you to the support we got from the Condors on the side of the road!

Photo credit: Matt Darby

Women’s Cat 2/3/4 by Aimee Jones

A sold-out field of brave women took to the start line on Saturday morning to endure 60 minutes of freezing cold rain. The only time I’ve been that cold was after the same race two years ago, seemingly long enough ago to have forgotten the pain and to think racing in February is a good idea.

Luckily I had several equally foolhardy Condor ladies at my side with the goal of looking after me and getting me to the final sprint if that’s what it came to. Cyndi rose to the role of road captain like a natural, all I had to do was stick to her wheel. I was never exposed on the front thanks to her and Becca (who totally threw down in her first ever race). Kristen should get special mention for her amazing attack that lasted solo for 4 laps as the bunch struggled to chase her down, and then still having enough in the tank to finish in the top 10.  A further special mention must go to Mimi Harrison for hanging in for the entire race despite carrying an illness.

By the last few laps most had lost the ability to change gear because of numb hands, and bad timing meant that the men’s race overtook ours just at the last corner into the finishing straight. I was in the wrong position coming into the final sprint, and definitely not firing on all cylinders. I managed 4th place, which I should be happy with for my first race of the season and in terrible conditions, but I can’t help feeling annoyed that I couldn’t do better - especially as the team had performed so well.

Overall, it was a good day out for the Condors. Three ladies (Jennifer, Becci and Becca) completed their first ever races, Cheryl smashed a crit PB and looked right at home in the bunch, and we had two top 10 places. Not a bad start to the season, and our first proper team effort with plenty to learn from for next week. Oh yes, we get to do it all again next Saturday - please don’t let it rain!

Photo credit: Matt Darby

My First race! by David Holland

I have finally managed to make it to my first race. After entering 3 races last year and not making it to any of them I was starting to think I would never race.

However, the day came for the first round of the ART winter Crit series and there I was on the start line Freezing my arse off in the pouring rain. Now I could say I didn’t know what to expect but as shown with all my planning I’m a massive nerd, so before turning up to the race I had read every blog, watched every video, listened to every podcast and talked to every Condor I could find to glean every piece of advice and information I could before going into my first race.

I was a little worried about how hard it would be having read many accounts of people getting dropped in their first race, but my fellow Condors had assured me I would be fine and getting dropped wouldn’t be a problem so I had some confidence going in.

Well the race got underway and this was it I was finally in a bike race and to my (pleasant) surprise my fellow Condors were right, I was fine.
I spent the first 5 minutes waiting for the pace to be upped and to start working hard but it didn’t come so I settled in and as per all the advice I spent the first ¾ of the race sitting on the wheels in the top 10 or so riders never putting my noise in the wind (which probably explains why I was finding it easy going).

All the other advice was going through my mind and I concentrated on trying to practise all the things I had read about, slipping into any gaps that opened, moving up whenever I could, taking corners at speed, keeping my line, trying to use as little energy as possible and just getting used to riding in a bunch that big and so tightly packed.

We had decided before the race we were going to attack to try and wear down the other teams as we had quite a few strong riders in the team (I had been exempt as it was my first race), which my team mates had been doing well while I had been sitting in taking it easy.

So as it got to about ¾ into the race and I was still feeling quite fresh I decided it was my turn to have a go (also I was freezing cold and needed to warm up a bit), so I put in my first ever attack just before the corner into the long straight with a headwind (Maybe not the best place). I went from about 10 riders back and took as much speed as I could round the corner in front of the pack, put my head down and pedalled away trying to keep it powerful but even expecting at any point for the bunch to come past me, the first lap went past and I still seemed to be on my own, then Stephen came up to join me with one other guy (who quickly disappeared) we worked together for another half a lap and as we crossed the start/finish I looked back and the bunch were right on our heels so at that point I gave it up and slid back into the pack, my first ever breakaway was over and I loved it! Definitely going to do that again.

Just as that was over we were given the 3 laps to go signal and I moved back into my sheltered position and waited for the end of the race, at this point it all started to get a bit hectic with everyone trying to get to the front and the pace getting upped, I had also lost feeling in my feet and hands making breaking/shifting especially hard. The last lap was especially hectic and I spent most of the time trying not to get ridden into or pushed right to the back. However, coming around the final corner I managed to keep with the front group and finished in 12th, not bad for my first race I think.

At this point everyone was thoroughly drenched and freezing someone helped me pull my gloves of as I was unable to, and we all rushed off to get changed and warmed up, I think it took about 30 mins until I stopped shaking.

I think if I had entered this race on my own it would have been a very different experience, but having the support of my fellow racers before, during and after the race (Pete, Mark, Poll, Stephen, and Luke), and all the Condors standing on the side cheering us on in the pouring rain it was an amazing experience despite the conditions and reminded me how fantastic it is to be a part of the Condor family.

I am now very much looking forward to my next races in round 3 and 4 of the ART Winter Crits.

Photo credit: Matt Darby

Last modified on February 09, 2018
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