All images ©chrismaher.co.uk
Round Two of the British Cycling Elite Circuit Race Series
Round two of the British Cycling Elite Circuit Race Series returned to the Stockton Cycling Festival for the forth year.
Part of a whole weekend of cycling activities, The Elite Circuit Race starts on the Friday Evening around the High Street in Stockton-On-Tees. The Saturday has a number of Sportive Rides that suit most abilities. On Sunday, The Sky Ride runs in conjunction with the Elite Road Series Velo29-Altura Grand Prix. The Grand Prix Series is the second half of the British Cycling calendar, and the Velo29 Altura Stockton Grand Prix resumes the racing season after the National Championships.
Round one of the Elite Circuit Series was held in Otley prior to the Le Tour Yorkshire Grand Depart. Combining a Women’s Event that was won by local girl Lizzie Armitstead (Boels Dolmans), Several Youth & Novice Races, and finishing the evening with Round One of the Elite Circuit Race Series that Adam Blythe (NFTO Pro Cycling) won. Over 10000 spectators lined the course in a carnival atmosphere, and Tour de France Director Christian Prudhomme and Tour de France Legend Bernard Hinault watched the nights racing.
In-between the first two rounds of the Circuit Series, the National Circuit Championships were held in Hull, mid-week. Adam Blythe (NFTO Pro Cycling) went on to win the National Jersey, whilst Eileen Roe (Starley Primal Pro Cycling) took the Women’s Jersey.
Adam Blythe wasn’t down to ride the race tonight, nor second place man Ed Clancy (Rapha Condor JLT) but last years winner here in Stockton, George Atkins (Team Raleigh) is looking to defend his win.
George Atkins out sprints Scott Thwaites (NetApp Endura) to secure his second win in a row here in Stockton. Winning by a bikes length, the evening had started off with a delay from the previous race.
Team Raleigh were the dominant force, but that didn’t stop the other riders from trying to make a break.
The course had been modified from the previous race, cut short, but additional laps were added.
With early breaks from Alex Blain (Team Raleigh) Matt Cronshaw (Velosure Giordana), Dean Downing (NFTO Pro Cycling) and David Lines (Starley Primal Pro Cycling) nothing seem to stick.
Ian Wilkinson, Matthew Boulo and Alex Blains (Team Raleigh) all had a go on the front, but in the later stages, it was Richard Handley (Rapha Condor JLT) that seemed to get the furthest ahead.
As the final few laps were approaching, the leading group were lapping the back riders, and in the final few corners towards the finish line, Hadley took a longer route around these stragglers to come in forth for the sprint. Dean Downing who rode a solid race throughout lead the group in for third position. Whilst the first local rider was Alex Bottomley (Wheelbase Altura) who came in further down on the night.
- George AtkinsTeam Raleigh
- Scott ThwaitesNetApp Endura
- Dean DowningNFTO Pro Cycling
- Richard HandleyRapha Condor JLT
- Alex BlainTeam Raleigh
- David LinesStarley Primal Pro Cycling
- Matt CronshawVelosure Giordana
- Alex PatonPedal Heaven Colbornes RT
- Gruffudd LewisPedal Heaven Colbornes RT
- Matthieu BouloTeam Raleigh
Standings TBC after round two.
Stockton Velo29-Altura Town Centre Races
Colne Grand Prix
Beverley Grand Prix
Sheffield Grand Prix
Wales Open Criterium
British Cycling Elite Circuit Series Home Page
My photos are regularly updated on https://www.flickr.com/photos/23913935@N07/
The SWWRS Race 2 went off with a bang, or a metaphorical bang of speed if you like. There was no messing around today!
The race was the first crit in the series, held in the sunshine at Merryfield Airfield near Ilton; it’s a cracking little 5km circuit and there’s not a hill in sight, but the wind up there does plenty to make for an interesting race. We had a good turn out with 17 riders signing on from far and wide, with a bit of team representation from VC St Raphael and Exeter Wheelers, both with four riders. The race was 40 mins plus lap, which worked out as 6 laps at an average speed of 35 km/h. And have I mentioned- the sun was out (intermittently)!
17 of us rolling out from the start- Katie Curtis (far right) is not hanging around.
So there we were riding like bats out of hell when what should happen- the lead girls took the wrong turn! I hate to say it, but you know…I told you so! Everything calmed down a bit while everyone got back together, but that didn’t last long. Soon enough the attacks started going off the front, with the VC St Raphael riders invariably involved. There was also a strong showing from Vittoria Bossi (Zippi’s Ladies) , Katie Curtis, Adele Martin (Hope Factory) and Louise Benn (Exeter Wheelers).
Jenny Hudson and Katie Curtis on the attack.
However whilst some of these attacks looked like they could be trouble, none of them stuck for more than a lap, with various people doing the work to chase them down. By our 4th or 5th lap Ayse Vahiboglu (Exeter Wheelers) was driving the pace up and stringing out the field. This stopped the attacks going for a short while, which was a nice relief. The field was now getting pretty twitchy and nervous coming into the bell lap.
In the final lap Marianne Britten (VC St Raphael) went on the attack, with Katie Curtis bridging across to her about a third of the way round. These girls looked for all the world like they might stay away- gaining 200m or so on the main field. However there seemed to be enough people in the group who wanted it to come down to a sprint. With about half a lap to go the main field started to put the hammer down, and with about 400m to go and going into the final corner a last ditched push from Claire Elworthy (Exeter Wheelers) all but closed the gap.
By this point the sprinters were all moving up the group, myself included. The sprint started straight out of the final corner, with about 250m to the line. I could pretend I knew what happened, but I wont! All I know is Adele Martin came past at some point, and there a was a bunch of four just behind me so I had to keep the foot down!
The finish- Adele Martin takes the win, myself in 2nd, Laura Clode 3rd and Katie Curtis in 4th.
So there we have it, the 2nd race of the series finished with Adele Martin (Hope Factory) taking the line honours, myself (Elena Bremer – Exeter Wheelers) in 2nd and Laura Clode (VC St Raphael) in 3rd.
Thanks to our sponsors Greens of Devon and the Bike Shed for providing the wonderful prizes of Flowers for the winner, Chef’s Garnish Boxes and Bontranger R4, R3 and R2 tyres for the top three. Thanks also to race organisers Somerset Road Club, and to the series supporters Alpha Vae Solar, Velo Brands and the Handmade Cyclist. Sign up to the series here for your chance to win some great prizes from these guys- it wont cost you a penny!
Also thanks to Ian Derbridge and Ivan Jordan for the photos!
More photos available on Flickr (Click here to view) from Ann and Richard Owens, thank you both!
The next series event is the Div Champs on 19th May, hopefully see you there! See the bottom of the post for full results- if you spot an error please do correct me!
If you want to see the video of the finish it’s available on Facebook by clicking here.
|| Adele Martin
|| Elena Bremer
|| Laura Clode
||VC St Raphael
|| Katie Curtis
|| Ellie Gilham
||VC St Raphael
|| Alex Sheehan
||One & All
|| Jenny Hudson
||VC St Raphael
|| Claire Elworthy
|| Jess Hill
|| Emma Sainsbury-Munn
||North Devon Wheelers
||VC St Raphael
||RU Training Today
Newport Velodrome – ©Dave Gratton AKA SunflowerDave (on Flickr)
For someone who always has a lot to say for himself, thinking what to write about is more difficult than I thought! I should hasten to add, that’s not because I can’t think of anything, it’s because I’ve got so many ideas running around in my head it’s so difficult to chose.
So my decision has been made for me because for the first time in weeks I have an hour or so to spare to put pen to paper (yes, I am actually writing this on paper) as I’m sitting in the stands watching my daughter Ffion take part in a Welsh Cycling youth track session. So the subject: the importance of good cycling facilities, specifically Newport Velodrome.
The difference this sporting facility has made to Wales is difficult to quantify, but if you look at the numbers of riders both before and after this facility was built who are at or on their way to the top of the cycling tree, it’s obvious that its impact has been massive! The same can be said of Manchester Velodrome and I am sure it will be the case with the Olympic Velodrome; we should also consider Herne Hill and the riders that have benefitted from that facility. What it shows it that good facilities really do make a difference to the progression of riders coming through the ranks, whatever their cycling discipline. Of course we also need champions to inspire youngsters into the sport, but we’ve got such a conveyor belt going at the moment there is no worry about these facilities being under used.
So what memories have I taken from Newport Velodrome over the last 8 or 9 years that I’ve been making the 30-minute drive from Abergavenny to get here?
Well I might as well start with my number one memory and also because “why shouldn’t women’s cycling be given priority over men’s for a change?” If I can find the photo to accompany this when I next go hunting in the attic I’ll post it at a later date, as even now I find it quite hard to believe. Picture this: a women’s keirin with six riders on the start line. In amongst the six, the current senior World Champion wearing her stripes Clara Sanchez. Also on the start line I think it was Sandie Clair. Next up to them, a few star struck young girls from the UK including two from Wales, my 13-year-old daughter Becky and Katie Curtis. I can’t recall another current senior world champion ever racing in Newport, so that line-up is implanted very firmly in my head. By the way, it was France first and second with Becky coming in third to the disbelief of the French coach, especially when finding out Becky’s age.
As for other memories of female competition in Newport, between 2006 and 2007 the Youth and Junior Track National Championships had such strong fields the racing really was fantastic to watch. Seeing Becky, Lizzie Armistead, Joanna Rowsell, Jess Varnish, Laura Trott, Dani King…(I could go on) racing against each other with Hugh Porter getting very excited on the microphone really was brilliant. Looking back now I honestly think you could see then who was going to make it to the top and they weren’t all winners. The look of determination in a rider’s eyes is something I believe is what sets them apart and that is something you can spot at a young age. If someone happens to win a Youth National Championship on the way to the top that’s nice, but ultimately you need to look at the bigger picture and remember it’s not a sprint, it takes a lot of time and effort to win at elite level. And that’s what people will remember; senior champions not 11-year-old ‘superstars’!
On that last point, some really bad memories for me have been watching young girls of Under 12 and Under 14 level attempting to break a National Record as if it was the be all and end all. They have been all kitted out with the best equipment money can buy and their parents have been shouting so loudly at them as if they were doing it themselves, but why? Many of those I have watched are either no longer riding or just riding now and again. And why provide the best equipment at such a young age? Good equipment yes, but keep the very best as a reward and as an incentive when they are racing at international level. I really would like to see some sort of equipment specification cap on all youth riders to make it more of a level playing field and to give them something to aim for.
While I’m in the process of airing my concerns, the other thing that really worries me is that young riders seem to be specialising on one cycling discipline at ever-younger ages and training to the detriment of their education. Youth sport should not be like that. If I could single out one young rider who has got the balance right and sets an example for other to follow it is Elinor Barker and look where she is now! Elinor has given most forms of cycling a go, but over the time I’ve known her and the family her education has come first. She’s obviously had coaching, but it has been Elinor’s drive and determination to succeed that has won her the Junior World Time Trial and of course her supportive parents (I believe there could be another reason and the same applies to Becky as well; both Graham, Elinor’s dad and myself are ardent Newcastle United followers and maybe it’s because the girls have never seen us celebrate the winning of a trophy that they are doing their bit to cheer us up!).
On the male side of things, at the same time as that outstanding crop of girls I mentioned the boys’ fields were also amazingly strong and they provided fantastic racing to watch. Jason Kenny, Peter Kennaugh, Alex Dowsett, Luke Rowe, Adam Blythe, Andy Fenn…(once again, I could go on) are just a few of the names that cycling fans would recognise from the Olympics and pro-peloton this last year. Despite many outstanding races and individual performances the one that stands out still after these years is Andy Fenn’s Youth 500 metre time trial. Here was someone mixing it up with the best youth riders this country had to offer in all the circuit races around the country and he was winning the endurance and pursuit events on the track. In the 500 metre time trail he was up against all the best youth sprinters in the country including current BC Academy sprint member Peter Mitchell. I can still picture him going around the track now. I seem to recall I was sitting in the stands next to Iain Dyer, National Sprint Coach and Trevor King, father of Dani and a few others and the first thing that came to my mind was that here was the person to follow in Jason Kenny’s footsteps. Well I was wrong on that front, but I really think he has the potential to be the next big road sprinter from GB. I am not saying that Andy will be another ‘Cav’, because I am not sure there’ll be another in my lifetime, but I am sure that he’ll be winning many races and stages over the next few years. Another rider I’ve watched in Newport in a similar mold to Andy is Sam Harrison, although he’s got a few years to catch up yet.
As recent as last winter I was sitting in the stands of Newport Velodrome watching the annual ‘Winter Track League’, which mixes all abilities up into different races, both male and female. In Wales we are very lucky indeed to not only have Elinor Barker coming up into the senior ranks, but we also have Amy Roberts. To see both Elinor and Amy mixing it up with the men in the ‘A’ league really is a great sight and I am really excited about the prospect of those two girls representing Wales and GB around the world over the next few years. The girls often found themselves riding in amongst elite men, well not just elite, but professional riders. Last year watching Luke Rowe, Magnus Backstedt, Jonny Bellis and many more on a Tuesday night with the rain hammering down on the velodrome roof, whilst sipping a cup of tea, is fascinating, enjoyable and a relaxing time in amongst my hectic lifestyle.
I have never been in Newport Velodrome with a full stand of spectators, but with the success of this last season and the accessibility of cycling stars to the general public I think I might get to see that over the next couple of years. What Newport needs is the right event to fill the stands, something that has got my mind running wildfire again! Now, if that event gives equal precedence to the women riders or better still star billing, wouldn’t that be amazing?
…Next time, whenever that will be, I’ll probably write about organising my first ever hill-climb and also about the importance and thrills of cyclocross.
Thanks for reading.
Interview with the Team Captain of VC St Raphael Women’s Team and lead British Cycling points scorer for Elite Women in 2010 and 2011.
How did you get into cycling?
As a youngster I grew up riding horses and used to compete in tetrathlon, that’s swimming, running, horse-riding and shooting at Pony Club. That ends when you reach 21 so I was looking for another sport similar so ended up trying triathlon. I quickly realised that cycling was the most fun out of all the disciplines and so started to focus on that with a local bike club. I quickly fell in love with the whole sport and so here I am. I never tire of striving to achieve more, cycling is a great leveller so you never quite feel like you’ve conquered everything, leaving you thirsty for more.
You work full time but still manage to be successful on the bike – how do you manage your time?
Managing my time is very difficult. Some years I have reduce my hours over the season to give myself a break but then it’s still not easy and I have raced the last 2 seasons having worked full time. I’m very lucky to work for such an understanding group of people as they are very flexible with me allowing me to work from home and flex my hours so that I can train and race. I love my job and it’s the reason why I have never tried to be a full-time bike rider, for me I have to have other things in my life other than riding the bike. My partner Jason also helps me out a great deal and is often ferrying me around to races…allowing me to sleep on the way!
You’ve won many races and have a number of National Champion jerseys – which would you say is your proudest achievement and why?
The Masters titles I have won mean a great deal to me but my proudest moments have come this year taking the sprinters jersey at the Bedford 2-day and getting on the podium at the Hillingdon GP, finally perhaps putting myself on the radar as a sprinter. I always take pleasure in doing the best I can and if a result comes from that then that’s a bonus.
What would you say to anybody who is thinking of starting racing, especially as it can be daunting getting on a start line for the first time? Any top tips?
First of all I can’t stress how important it is to develop your bunch riding skills before attempting to race, going out with a local bike club is a good way to learn some of these skills and gain confidence of riding with people around you and at speeds you wouldn’t by yourself. There are also a few Women’s training sessions that you can attend which are excellent. Then when you are confident, try to pick races that are within your reach to start with, perhaps local women’s races, don’t try to take on too much too soon as you can easily find yourself out of your depth both in terms of speed and technique. Always be realistic about your ability and recognise your strengths, some riders are better over hilly terrain and some are better at sprinting. Recognising these and targeting races to suit you will mean you will have positive experiences and enjoy the sport more. Don’t be swayed to do every race on the calendar just because everyone else is, be confident in your own training and race plan and stick with it. Most importantly it’s about your sport being fun.
Is there any advice in particular that you have been given over the years which has helped you to succeed that you could share with us?
I read a book once by Lance Armstrong, one of his quotes was that “pain is in the moment but failure is forever”. That’s something that has stayed with me and I try to remember when I am racing. Being the best that I can be is what I strive for so I train hard to save myself from disappointment.
Do you have any sporting heroes? Do you see anything in them that you could model yourself on?
I did a bike race a few years ago where a certain Lizzie Armistead rode and lapped the field twice. I witnessed first hand something special that day and hopefully she will pull on a rainbow jersey one day. I’d like to think like her I have some steely determination and a bit of a sprint at the end….just a little less of her talent!
Do you have a favourite event or circuit? What about the event/circuit do you like so much?
My favourite circuit has to be one local to me, at Thruxton Motor circuit. I love the circuit because it’s tough with the rise before the finish and can be very fast in places. When I heard that the National Master Road Race was being held there instead of the original road circuit I knew I was in with a chance at winning the title I’d been after for 4years, which I did and was delighted.
You have recently become the official Team Captain to the VC St Raphael Women’s Team, which in itself is one of the new kids on the block. How do you see the team evolving?
I’m excited and honoured at taking on that role, other teams have asked me to captain them over the last few years but I’ve not felt ready until now. I hope that I can lead the team to work together and get results. We now have a strong mix of riders covering track, road and time trials. It is a great mix of youth and experience and we have some exciting new talent joining the team as well as the hard core from last year. Having had 2 excellent training weekends over the winter I think we are ready to test our legs and get working together as a team, Cheshire Classic will be our first event.
Do you have any aspirations for the 2012 season?
Mainly I want the team to get some results and work together, a result for a teammate means just as much. I’d like to defend my National titles and perhaps the sprinters jersey at Bedford 2-day again.
Where would you like to be in two years’ time?
I’d like to be still riding my bike and enjoying it, perhaps with a World or European Masters title to my name.
With the National Road Series for Women being open to E/1/2/3 only, with no room at the inn for 4th category riders, British Cycling are working hard to engage with women who are new to bike racing. From the circuit races that are being held at Saltaire, Lancaster, to the training sessions held at Tameside Cycling Circuit, which are complimented with the Tameside Season Starter races at the same circuit, British Cycling are obviously keen to develop women’s riding skills, which Jenny Gretton, North West Regional Event Officer, has been working hard to promote.
You may be forgiven for thinking that these events are just happening in the North West, however this is not the case. There are events across the country, from the North East, to the Midlands, to London and the South West. The purpose of these events is to get women used to riding in a bunch, on closed circuits, where it is safe to learn, without the added fear of some random motorist driving headlong into the bunch, which happened last year on one of the National Road Race Series races.
The majority of these events seem to be in March and April, though, which leaves a gap for the rest of the season. Hopefully, the theory is that the women riding these events will pick up sufficient points to become fledgling third category riders, who are then able to ride the National Road Series.
For those of you who are keen to get on the road though, as opposed to closed circuit races, the Team Series events may be just what you are looking for. These events are put on with the idea of promoting women’s racing, without putting anybody off, so the courses are not necessarily too difficult, more “manageable”. Their popularity has grown over the years, with more and more women entering them – the Bedford 2 Day being one of the most coveted wins in the Series!
But don’t despair if you are looking for an event that caters for everybody later on in the year! That is where Andrew Parker, South West Regional Events Officer at British Cycling can help you. He is organising a three stage, one day event on 15 July 2012 for women, and he is encouraging women who aren’t members of BC to come along and have a go, with the idea that the South West Road Race Work Group will cover the cost of a day licence.
Andrew’s reasoning for the event is as follows: “I think a lot of women’s events tend to be shoehorned into a busy day’s racing and the competitors aren’t given the recognition they are due. I thought it would be good to have a dedicated days racing which can showcase the sport. The format is based on an omnium, with points awarded for each stages placings instead of time, the overall winner will have the least amount of points. I’m hoping that it will be really successful and not only encourage more local women to take up racing but also draw in riders from outside the region.”
The event will include a time trial, handicap road race and a circuit race, and you won’t need to worry about staying over as it is all done on the same day. If you would like any more information, please contact Andrew on [email protected]
Click here to be taken to the stage race webpage.
So there’s even less excuses to ride a stage race now – you don’t even need a racing licence! What more could you need? Get your entries in, it is bound to be popular!