March Hare Classic - Report by Matt Exley
Saturday saw 3 of us head down to Lee Valley for the March Hare Classsic. With a £500 prize for the win, this race always attracts a strong field! Up against riders from Vitus Pro Cycling, Madison Genesis, and full team line ups from Richardsons Trek, TAAP Racing and Nuun-Sigma Sport, we were in for a tough day out.
For the first 60 minutes of the 90 minute race, the pace was high at about 27mph average. Various attacks went and got brought back. After his win last week, Jack confidently put in a strong attack and drew a group of 10 strong riders off the front. The bunch was lively and another group of 10 riders started to bridge the gap. I found myself in this second group, and over a couple of laps we managed to reach the front group. With 20 minutes of racing left both Jack and I were positioned well and we managed to hold off the chasing bunch.
Going into the sprint was lively as always, and coming into the last corner I managed to squeeze into a gap to line up nicely for the final gallop. With a slight tailwind the sprint opened up early and I managed to pass Harrison Jones of Vitus Pro Cycling in 2nd position. I couldn't manage to close in for the win which was disappointing, but given the level of competition 2nd was a good solid result. Congratulations to Lewis Atkins of TAAP Racing on the win.
We were straight back at it on Sunday morning with myself, Will and Ollie heading north for the Coalville Wheelers Road Race. With tired legs (and an old mans bladder), I can't really comment on how the race unfolded as I spent most of the race at the back of the bunch! Over to Ollie or Will for the action at the sharp end...
Coalville RR - Report by Ollie Taylor
Coalville has always been an early season favorite of mine, the course is best described as gently rolling, with a few small hills which if raced hard can cause splits and make the race interesting! The rest of the course is fast, on good quality roads and generally just a good circuit for some grippy racing!
With a good quality field entered, including size-able teams from Vitus Pro Cycling and Giant Sheffield the race was set to be competitive! The usual early attacks started from Mile 0, but nothing was getting away due to the bunch travelling at 30mph+ for the first few miles, the opening laps of Coalville are always fast with the first hour of racing run off at 27mph+.
This race was fairly odd due to the larger teams effectively neutralizing their own attacks, Vitus seemed set on getting their whole team into any move that went up the road so they inadvertently (or possibly on purpose just to make things hard) kept chasing each others moves down, this resulted in it taking 2 hours for the break to finally go up the road. I cant remember how the move went due to it being constant attacking for the first two hours, all i remember is seeing Ryan Perry riding across to a small group containing the right mix of riders, including Will, up one of the small hills on the backside of the circuit, i jumped on Ryans wheel and crossed the gap quickly, the bunch seemed to lose interest and sat up allowing us to very quickly get a 40 second gap. With 12 people in the break rolling through smoothly it was actually more comfortable being out the front, rather than constantly covering attacks in the bunch for the previous 2 hours.
As is inevitable with a group that large, the counter attacks began with two laps to go, it was a matter of holding on for grim death and riding down anything that looked dangerous, almost everyone in the move tried their luck at some point but everything was neutralized. 2 miles from the finish Will agreed to keep things fast and sat on the front down the last long straight, preventing anyone from launching a late attack, thanks mate!
Coalville finishes with a steep but short climb before turning left off the main road onto a 300m drag to the finish line, two lads from Vitus hit the rest of the group HARD on the right hand side at the base of the climb, i followed and got slightly boxed in on the final corner, touching handlebars with another rider before opening up what can only be described as a horrendous drag race to the line, I gave it everything and managed 7th. A very enjoyable race all round and great to have two Flamme Rouge riders in the break, it wont be long before one of us wins one of these races!
Photo Credit: Velo UK