Avon Valley Road Race
Sunday 11th May
Report: Jon Gates (the winner!)
Despite attestations about a flat course, it was pretty lumpy (!) with about 1,600m of climbing at the circuit around Kingsbridge, Devon. A sporting ride up a 100+m climb that made up the neutralised zone was an indication of what was to come. The first lap was fairly sensible and gave us a chance to find our way round and Kieran Murphy and Dave Rutty were both seen fairly close to the sharp end along with myself and Greg Lancaster. Two riders broke away early on and by the last climb of the lap the peloton had reeled them in to about 20m. Someone then suggested letting them dangle in the wind a bit longer and they promptly disappeared again.
Lee Davies was still in the heavily reduced pack at this point with probably half the field shelled out, including Lee Francis with a puncture miles from home (hope the blisters from the shoeless walk back heal fast!) Despite plenty of VCB work on the front no-one seemed inclined to chase, so on the last climb of lap two Greg stretched the field out and broke away with a Dream Cycling rider. I pushed on up the last rise, taking a Tiverton Wheelers rider with me and we set about catching Greg. We reeled in the other guy who Greg had dropped and we eventually caught him after a good slog and briefly worked as a 4-up before DC-man went out the back door.
The rest of the last lap consisted of a good solid 3-up TT effort to reel in the break who’d started the lap 2 minutes ahead. By the top of the second of the 3 climbs we had them in sight, and some furious descending brought them closer still. With one climb left I pushed hard to reel them in, hoping to bring Greg with me, but his legs were starting to run out. Realising the break looked utterly knackered I did the honourable thing and kicked past them, hoping it was hard enough to stop them getting on my wheel. It was, but left me in the unusual position of being in front… I pressed on and hoped Greg would be able to make the pass too, unfortunately by the time he had them in range they were over the crest and into the drag to the finish and it wasn’t to be. I wrung myself dry on the last stretch and had a good gap over the Tiverton rider in second, the breakaway riders in 3rd and 4th, Greg in 5th and Lee Davis finishing just outside the top 20 in only his second RR.
A hard day at the office, but after 21 years of buggering about with bikes, it’s nice to finally win one – in VCB colours too!
Full team; Jon Gates, Greg Lancaster, Kieran Murphy, Lee Francis, Matt Dale, Jason Flooks, Dave Rutty, Lee Davies and Mark Hughes.