Last Sunday Rudy, George, Pasquale, Reece and I travelled down to Kenardington in Kent (close to Ashford) for 5th Floor’s first road race in the South East Road Race League (SERRL) Summer Series. The race was 9 laps of a 10km circuit (including one ‘neutralised’ lap – didn’t feel like it!), which meant it took just over two hours and 90km to complete. There were about 60 riders in the field, and this race was categorised 3/4, so had both 3rd Cat and 4th Cat riders in the same race. The course had a few small climbs, enough to burn the legs, but not severe enough to cause much difficulty for most of the field…
SERRL road races are done properly, with a number of official vehicles on the road; multiple commissaires, a support vehicle, and a motorbike from the National Escort Group. As we set off on the neutralised lap, the speed was high straight away, and there was certainly pressure on as we set some of the fastest times of the day for some of the small climbs. The race then settled into more of a rhythm, with The 5th Floor being very active at the front of the pack. I saw Rudy actively chasing down or participating in most of the breakaways that formed in the first 50km, and always riding in a top 5-10 positon. Reece was also very active at the front. My legs felt OK but not great at the start, however it was inspiring to see the team participating so actively in the race, so I decided to ride more positively at the front of the pack in the 2nd half of the race. I also suspected this would be when a breakaway move would stick.
Either I was getting stronger or the field were getting more tired, but as the race wore on it started fragmenting a bit at the front where I was riding, with a lot of attempts to get away. I knew any of these groups could form into the breakaway of the day, so I started putting a lot of effort into bridging across to the riders I saw moving up the road. A couple of early moves I was in got brought back, but with about a lap and a half to go (15km) I suddenly found myself in a 4-man group, and it was clear to all of us that this was a good one. We started working well together, and it was extremely motivating as the moto kept coming up and giving us time checks to the main field; 15s, 23s, 38s, 45s. I could sense that something was going on in the peloton for us to get such a big gap in about 10km, and this was down to 5th Floor working extremely effectively at the front of the pack to slow it down, and give me a chance of getting a podium. It was an incredible feeling to have a 45 second gap and look down at my Garmin and see we had 3km to go, and be virtually guaranteed to stay away until the end. At this point one of my co-escapees from Abellio – SFA Racing put in a strong attack, which he held until the line. I sensed that the other two were suffering, so when the next attack happened I was able to quickly respond close to the finish and take 2nd place. George did well in the bunch sprint, and finished in the points as well, 8th on the day.
This was a great day out for The 5th Floor, everyone rode extremely well and the team were active on the front all day, which helped neutralise any early moves, and allowed me to put in a move at the right moment to go for the podium in my first proper road race. With 12 points for 2nd place I also moved up to 3rd Cat, which was a nice bonus.
– Daniel Slotte
Photos : Mattia