As Alex, George and I line up alongside one another on the starting grid, there’s an air of apprehension amongst the riders; we’ve just witness an amazing ride from Dani King who obliterate the entire field in the women’s race, was the same thing about to go down here in the men’s event?
At 950m, the London #2 circuit is the shortest that we’ve ever had and with that, the most likely of seeing a big chunk -if not all- of the field getting lapped out, it’s crucial that we move up the field quickly in the opening laps and avoid falling back from the lead group.
Ten, nine, eight… as the sounds of cheers and cattle bells almost drowns out the announcer, I’m trying to recall the approach into turn 1 and where the potholes in the road are … seven, six, five… I’m praying for an easy clip-in, getting away well will gift you 10 places off the line, or the opposite should you spin the pedal over! FourthreetwooneGO, as I get away nicely off the line I can hear a hollow clattering together of carbon wheels from behind me and I brace for the inevitable impact of someone not being able to slow it down and careering into the back of me.
Thankfully the impact didn’t arrive and we accelerate to full gas in order to keep up with the lead pack as Alec Briggs smashes the front and takes the breakfast prime!
As the first few laps of the race unfold the pace is becoming more manageable as riders start to carry more speed through each of the corners; not having to use your decel muscles so much allows more recovery through turns and less aggressive acceleration on the straights… we (Alex, George and I) find ourselves riding together within the main pack having made our way from the 40s up to the 20s.
Having my teammates racing alongside me in the pack as we move forward through the field -and hearing the rest of the 5th on the start/finish straight- is incredible and we continue to pick off places here and there as some other riders are beginning to fade.
I can’t see the dinner prime battle unfolding in front of me but I can certainly feel it in my legs, lungs back, well everywhere, and as we pass the mid-point there’s an unbelievable pace being set on the front from riders attacking one another one after the other. As I start to settle in my position in the pack, I can see that Alex continuing to gain a place every other lap and he starts to move up through the field.
As we make our way into the final laps, surges form the lead riders are becoming less manageable and small gaps are beginning to appear in the pack. I give it absolutely everything I have to bridge a few gaps that are appearing in front of me, all the time trusting that the kick in pace will subside and if it doesn’t, I’ll be toast!
As we move into the closing laps I see a crash on the entrance to turn 2, at this stage in the race my legs are so tired I don’t think I can brake even if I have too, as I near the apex I can see Alex picking his bike up off the floor, I’m gutted, he wouldn’t have been far outside the top ten going into the final lap! George, Alex and I roll over the line tired, and relieved, in 26th, 34th and 29th positions respectively.
After finishing the last two RHCs in the lead group but all the way back mid-twenties, I’m more motivated than ever to get strong for the next meeting in Barcelona on 27th August where I’ll hopefully be finishing a little further up the field! Looking forward to seeing lots of you there!