Finally back racing where I should be after a month in the abyss…
This time last year it was pissing down with rain and I was wondering just exactly how I was leading everyone else around Happy Valley – I spent one lap on the front, knackered myself out and then finished 7th. This weekend I once again found myself alongside Phil Glowinski and Craig Joy wondering what the hell was going on and how best to deal with the situation.
Now I’m not stupid and I’ve raced enough road races to know that you don’t last long riding around on the front whilst everyone else sits on your wheel. Therefore I did a fair turn on the front and then sat up – Jack Finch, Joe Sutton and Phil duly rode through and then chaos struck. Some riders went through but didn’t maintain the gap to the leading trio, some went through and then went the wrong way, but most just didn’t come through. By the time I realized what was going on the leaders had a good fifteen second gap.
“If any of you guys want to help, we can catch third”
A strong group of us got together after a few laps and organized ourselves, but no one was particularly keen on chasing. I rode for several laps on the front and could see a chance to get back to the leaders. The tricky thing is you know that the other riders are taking advantage of you, but if you choose to sit up you’ll lose the impetus to make it back to the leaders and possibly risk attack from another rider in your group.
Out of the five or six of us in the group, Dan Drake was the only other rider who really did much to help for the most part, but the two of us managed to drag the others around to catch third place Joe Sutton. Glowinski and Finch were just a little out of reach with two laps to go.
Dan tried to break the group up a little and managed to shell out a couple of the weaker riders before I did another lap and then all hell broke loose. Rob Purcell came to the front and attacked out of every corner and I was hanging on for dear life. I’m not sure if they realized how close I was to cracking but I managed to just hold the wheels. I knew that the last few ramps may be a place where I could grab a small advantage.
Coming into the first ramp I eased off and cruised down the hill in sixth place at the back of the group, I rode in wide, squared off the corner and moved up to fourth. We looped back down to the next corner and I half wheeled Rob all the way up the final hill to grab the inside. Coming through the fast right left complex I stamped on the pedals and guarded the inside line for the final corner. Joe had worked his way past Rob and we came out of the final corner sprinting for 3rd, but I’d just spent too long on the front and had nothing left, eventually rolling in across the line a second down on Joe and sixteen down on Phil who won. Frustratingly close to my first league podium, but ultimately, tactically, so far away!
Cheers for all the shouts on our way round – they really did keep me hanging on for that penultimate lap.
- Phil Glowinski (VCL)
- Jack Finch (PMR)
- Joe Sutton (PMR)
- Glen Whittington (SDW)
Photos by Pip Jenkins and video John Mullineaux.
Glen rides a pair of Boardman Elite ‘Cross bikes in the London CycloCross Association League. He rides a Colnago Master and races a Scott Addict at local road races, all of which are available via The Velo House. He races a KTM Aera Pro 27.5 hardtail in the UK National Points Series and the Eastern XC Series. He receives personal sponsorship from Helly Hansen, KTM and THE.ÆIGHT.BICYCLE.CØMPANY. He’s also supported by Lazer helmets and Boardman Elite. The KTM team is supported by Continental Tyres, Torq Fitness and Four4th Lights.