FOR the first time this year, Stratford Cycling Club’s Warrick Fuller (A category), Tony Owen (B category) and Keith Walton (E category) found themselves racing in dry and warm conditions – and they loved it!
The race covered a ten-mile circuit including the testing one-mile Hungerford Hill which had to be climbed six times.
A second less extreme hill before the finish line then played its part at the finish.
The A/B race started at a slightly pedestrian pace because most of the riders had competed in this event before and were not looking forward to racing up ‘The Hungerford’ six times.
Sure enough, the first time up proved decisive as a small group of 12 riders escaped the bunch over the top of Hungerford Hill.
Fuller and Owen missed the move first time ‘up’ by being in the wrong place when the attack came. The break largely stayed away but the chasing group did not make the same mistake again.
Following that initial move, the bunch really reacted and the pace went from pedestrian to full on for the next four laps.
Each time the ascent of Hungerford Hill saw the weaker riders ejected until by lap five the bunch was whittled down from 45 starters to less than 30 riders.
On crossing the finish line for the final lap, the mood in the bunch changed as riders started to plan for what looked like a bunch sprint.
A couple of initial breakaway attacks were quickly caught until two miles before the finish line. At this point, two riders launched another attack but were caught just 50 metres from the finish line.
Following a small group that had stayed away, Owen managed to finish fourth in the bunch sprint as an uphill finish suited him.
The result sheet showed Owen in 16th place overall and seventh in his age category.
Fuller did not make it to the finish and Walton was 13th overall and seventh in the separate ‘E’ category event.