STRATFORD Cycling Club’s Tony Owen finished 15th in glorious conditions in the Basingstoke 50-mile Road Race for veterans.
The event featured five, ten-mile laps over a triangular circuit which included a very sharp left-hand bend, one long climb and a short, sharp climb to the finish line.
This was Owen’s first race of the season and he was up against younger riders in the 50-strong field.
Many riders made a blistering start and by the end of the first lap ten were already ejected from the race because of the fierce accelerations as repeated attacks were chased down.
The first two laps followed a pattern, with lots of attacking racing, but ultimately the bunch regrouped at the end of each lap due to the headwind on the hill to the finish.
On lap three two riders managed to gap the field on the long hill with another six riders attempting to bridge across.
The bunch was working well with plenty of people sharing the pace at the front, allowing the two groups to stay in sight of each other for the remainder of the race.
Every time the bunch climbed the longer of the two hills it just became a single line because of the pace.
Most riders were doing their best just to hold on to the wheel of the man in front of them. Each ascent left a couple of riders behind, with the rest wondering if they would still be there in another lap’s time.
As the finish approached, the group of six riders were almost caught by the bunch who got to within 50m of the leaders, but the headwind made the difference and the group failed to catch the two riders out in front.
Because the pace was so high, the sprint did not really start until 70m from the finish which meant the bunch was racing for third place.
Other riders immediately counter-attacked, but too early as they struggled into the wind. Owen was already flat out just getting up the hill but he caught five more riders because they were slowing down rather than him speeding up.
The sprint really was in slow motion, which gave the organisers plenty of time to record who finished where in the race.
Owen finished 15th overall and ninth in the 45+ category.