This week the pros will line up in Vegas for the first round of the UCI World Cup. If you missed the first round of the London League in Brighton it was every bit as glamorous, exciting and star-studded…
Legend has it that the letter “y” didn’t exist before Sven Nys took two letter i’s and beat them into conjoined submission. Flandrians and Wallonians still argue over whether he should be called Nys or Niis, but what isn’t in doubt is that he is the benchmark by which all ‘cross racers can be measured. The “Cannibal from Baal” is not a man to throw beer upon.
Starting the season on the front row of the grid was a big boost to moral but I knew that Stanmer Park was going to be a tough course for me and all the other riders waiting for the twisty, muddy courses of deepest darkest winter. Russell Short and I had a quick joke about getting into the zone…before getting into the zone. Then with 10 seconds to go Wilf Sinclair, Russell and I all crouched over the bars, one foot pressing on the pedal, just like Nys, Van-der-Haar and Stybar.
Launching into the first corner I’d got an unusually good start and being on the inside I hung one leg out to corner that bit faster than the other guys and managed to lodge myself in about sixth place for the first run up the hill. I wanted to see just how long I could stay with the fast guys – Dan Tullett, David Barnes and Michael Butler were all racing and it would be good to learn as much as possible from them.
For the first two laps everything was going well. A couple of riders had gone past, but I was still around the top ten – then three laps in the heat started to get to me. It was affecting Russell and Wilf too. One lap, one of us would fly off up the hill leaving the others dying, the next it was all change and one of the others would take the lead of our own private battle. Five or six laps on we were losing places to a bunch of roadies who’d come to spoil the ‘cross bike party.
However rather than it being all doom and gloom the faster riders had started to help me push myself that bit harder and I reeled in quite a few of the riders who’d snuck past in the final two laps.
The leading trio had done an awesome job of hovering most of the field up and with just three or four corners to go it was clear that they’d catch me right on the line so I now had a decision to make – sprint for that final lap and the possibility of catching a rider or two or should I roll in having been caught for a lap? Being that I was in front of several riders who tend to be my yardstick I plumbed for the being-caught-and-saving-myself-for-next-time option!
Looking at the time gaps afterwards this seems like a pretty good tactical choice. I’m not pleased with my placing/points but I did go away from Brighton with a bit more fire in my belly, a rude awakening as to what training I need to do and some renewed confidence that I can make a good start. I need a bike that can turn round corners and a little bit more speed in my legs…and a couple of weeks of rain!
Big thank-you to VC Julbilee who put on the normal great season opener. Thank-you to all of the peeps shouting for me including John M, John B, all of Crawley Wheelers, Sophia, Emma, Jo-Anne, Pete, Julia, Tim, Rob, Paul, Nicky, Dave, Simon and to anyone else who made it that bit more fun by getting involved #morecowbell
1. Dan Tullett (Specialized) 10 laps in 48:55
2. Michael Butler (Hargroves) +0:01
21. Glen Whittington (SDW) +1 lap
V40 – 1. Rob Purcell (Neon Velo) 9 laps in 46:16
V40 – 18. Tim Johnston (SDW) +4:32
V40 – 44. Paul Greer (SDW) +1 lap
V40 – 52. Rob Ledger (SDW) +1 lap
V50F – 108. Julia Hawksworth (SDW) +2 laps
Photos by Digi Dave Haywood and John M
Glen rides for the Southborough & District Wheelers. He races Mountain bikes in the UK National XC Points and Eastern XC Series, Road bikes in the Surrey, South-East and Eastern Leagues, TT in the South East Region and ‘Cross in the LCCA League. He receives personal support from Helly Hansen, The Velo House, Scott Bikes and THE.ÆIGHT.BICYCLE.CØMPANY.
Glen runs The Velo House with Olly and Matt, a coffee shop, workshop and bike shop welcoming all cyclists and even well behaved non-cyclists. We’re based at 5 St.Johns Road, Tunbridge Wells, TN4 9TN – 01892 554 505 – firstname.lastname@example.org.