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Race Report - Phil Corley Race Circuits @MK Bowl - Saturday 15th March

Having emailed the organiser to confirm places were available, an organised gaggle of TV riders took to the motorways to race at Milton Keynes bowl in the Phil Corley Circuit races. Racers included, Anastasia Welsh, Rob Mosley, Phil Mosley, Steve Green and Andy Brown. It was the first time at the circuit for us all and we were all eager to try it out; some with the anticipation of placing. The BC website indicated a field of 40 for the 4ths and 3/4th and 15 in the women’s E1234 race, however, as the starting gun sounded, there were approximately 60 in the 40ths and a full field of 80 for 3/4ths (Rob was temporarily on the reserve list) and around 30 in the women’s race. For comparison, I would say that a field of 60 at MK is equivalent to a field of 80 at Hillingdon because of the nature of the track.

The 4th’s raced a different circuit to the 3/4th and the Women’s E1234. The 4ths, is best described as shaped like a broad bean, with a slight gradient on the arc of about 2% both up and down. There is a straight section, which opens out into a much wider road; however, this proved to be the most hazardous part of the track as riders used the space to make ground, thus creating a squeezing point when the course narrowed. The route for the 3/4th and Women’s races, deviated and a challenging technical element was added on (which I have to admit, would have been disastrous if the 4ths did it).

The 4ths started first, and it started at a ferocious speed – I believe my fastest lap was possibly the first one. Immediately the dangers of the track became apparent. There seemed no safe line as both the inside and outside lines were being constantly squeezed. There was a lot of nervy and dangerous riding on show too – it seemed to be the first race for many. As ever, the safest place to stay was near the front, but with the open space on the straight it was very difficult to hold it – with other racers sprinting both sides. Within a few laps Andy and Phil hit the front as a one-two, unfortunately lapping Steve as we did so whom found the early pace too hard. Phil then used me as a spring board and went for a solo effort off the front. Phil held it for a lap but was eventually reeled in. Both Andy and Phil rode strongly and aggressively, with both making attacks off the front. With Andy making use of the gradient, had a couple of efforts at the front and in Phil’s final attack he was joined by another rider, but again they couldn’t hold the pace as it was so high. With 3 laps to go , Phil and Andy were both very near the front; at the right place. The final lap came and the pace rose, some crossing of lines put Phil on his brakes – end of sprint, Andy started to move on the outside but a dramatic crash bringing 3 riders down occurred right in front forcing Andy onto the grass and put pay to his efforts.

Next was Anastasia’s turn. The women’s field was strong and contained quality team representation, so Anastasia treated the race as experience for a bigger team race series ahead. The plan was to hold on to the elite’s for as long as possible. Within a few laps a split occurred, with 12 women, including Anastasia, in the break. Anastasia being one of only two 3rd cats in the breakaway; I believe Anastasia was pressed on to the gravel as the race unfolded so battled hard to hold the group. The pace was high and Anastasia held 4th wheel for many laps looking very comfortable. The women’s race had 2 primes, which I believe Anastasia wasn’t aware of. As the whistle for the primes went, the pace picked up and Anastasia dropped back a couple of wheels – probably wondering what’s going on! Primes over, Anastasia was back in the 4th wheel spot again. As the 5 lap to go board went up, naturally the pace quickened and some attempted to make a breakaway, but nothing stuck. Anastasia was still holding a perfect position right until the final lap. As the sprint started, Anastasia was squeezed out of contention just before the climb and eased up crossing the line with the group. A very strong race indeed and which was well commented on by the runner-up and elite riders.

It was now Rob’s turn in the 3/4ths. The field looked dangerously large as the gun went. The pace was intense right from the start and it didn’t relent. Within a lap or 2 the field was decimated by what I can only assume to be very strong downgraded 2nd cats. With splits in the group forming, it proved impossible for Rob to find the right wheel to follow . Within half a dozen laps it looked like a constant stream of cyclists all going round the circuit at different speeds – must have been a commissaire’s nightmare! Rob then called it a day, and quite dramatically "placed" his pride and joy into the surrounding hedge.

Although the racing was fast and frantic, and somewhat dangerous, the atmosphere was terrific. The MK bowl offers great viewing, and there were lots of support for us all. Although, the coolest thing to be seen, had to be Anastasia riding on her rollers in amongst the spectators, next to the start/finish line, whilst watching Rob race - real class - “liking your style”. Cool

Imperial Winter Series/MOD Chertsey/Preston Park - Saturday 8th February

The Thames Velo jersey was prevalent at three different races on Saturday. Steve Green was the sole representative at Hillingdon for the final race in the Imperial Winter Series while closer to home, Andy Brown and Paul Adams raced in the 4th category race organised by London Dynamo at the Longcross Test Track in Chertsey. A fierce headwind down the long finishing straight kept the group together for most of the race, apart from one solitary lone rider who made a strong break to stay away and claim victory. Both Brown and Adams finished within the main group, however Brown remarked afterwards that the course suits his racing style and in retrospect he might have attempted a move, and is looking forward to racing the course again next week.

In the 3rd cat race, Laurence Manning, Mickael Metayer, Rob Mosley and Tom Burnley lined up alongside the Elites, 1st and 2nd cat racers. The conditions made the race challenging for all, particularly with the strong wind spraying pain inducing hail stones into the rider’s faces and combined with the fast pace, Mosley racing in his first 3rd cat race found the going tough. Manning however, again showed that his form is still on the ascendency by again placing amongst the points while Metayer and Burnley finished comfortably within the main group.

Further afield in Sussex, Phil Mosley and Clark Anderson took part in the Apres Winter League 4th cat race at Preston Park. In a fast paced race, Mosley kept the speed high by putting in some hard work on the front of the bunch. With Mosely doing the pulls, Anderson sat sheltered within the bunch and able to reserve his energy for the bunch sprint. Anderson timed his kick nearly to perfection and was able to take a fantastic second place while Mosley was rewarded for his hard work by coming in 10th spot and getting his first points of the season. Anderson has now accrued enough points to gain his 3rd cat licence and will be moving up to join what is fast becoming a very strong Thames Velo 3rd cat team ready for the Spring road races.

Imperial Winter Series Race 9 & Preston Park - Saturday 25th January

After last weeks 8th position at Hillingdon, Thames Velo's Rob Mosley decided to head South to Sussex to see if he could add to his tally of points by racing the Après Winter Series at Preston Park. Conditions were favourable being dry and sunny with just a little wind and Rob placed himself near to the front of the group of twenty-five riders. About ten minutes into the race Rob kicked hard in an attack hoping to tempt other riders to join him but with little interest he returned to the bunch. The race pace ebbed and flowed allowing occasional attacks from others, but Rob worked well with riders from London Dynamo and Ipswich CC to control the race and pull back the breakaways. As the race began to climax Rob put in strong efforts to stay in the front ten riders which proved a wise tactic as it avoided a crash directly behind Rob's wheel. With a fast sprint to the line Rob held on strongly to come 4th and gain more valuable points.

Closer to home at Hillingdon, Andy Brown was accompanied by fellow Thames Velo rider, Steve Green in Race 9 of the 4th Category race of the Imperial Winter Series. For Steve this was his first race of the series and inevitably struggled to find his racing legs on the first outing. Andy, however, has raced most of the series and finished comfortably within the pack, using the early season races as preparation for the hillier road races later in the season.

Andy Fowkes and Mickael Metayer represented the Velo in the 3rd Cat race and saw Mickael using his attacking style to join the breakaways and string the race out, finishing comfortably in the bunch but outside the points.

Race Report - Imperial Winter Series - Race 7 Saturday 11th January

In stark contrast to the weather in recent weeks Race 7 of the Imperial Winter Series held perfect racing conditions with a clear blue sky and a mild wind.

Lining up in the 4th Category race was a full field of 60+ riders with representation from Thames Velo in Andy Brown and Clark Anderson as well as, in her first race for the Velo, 17 year old junior, Anastasia Welsh from Slough.

The race started at a steady pace before rising to a high average speed of about 25mph which effectively prevented anyone making an attack from the front.

Brown and Anderson adopted the tactic of reserving energy within the main group whilst Anastasia kept too the front and, despite her diminutive stature compared to the men, responded fearlessly to any surges of pace to maintain her commanding position.

With five laps to go Anderson began to gain ground on the outside of the pack but, despite a strong ride in the final lap, was unable to move up finding himself blocked by the large field and both himself and Brown finished comfortably within the pack.

Anastasia’s tactic however worked better on the day and by moving up through the pack, she found herself on the inside of the bunch and skillfully positioned herself to be in contention for the bunch sprint, impressively finishing in 18th position of a field of 60+ racers.

Over the winter Anastasia has been training with Thames Velo and improving rapidly to show her huge racing potential. This hasn’t gone unnoticed and Anastasia has been ‘spotted’ by a woman’s development team and has signed a contract to join them full time imminently. Until she begins her tenure with her new team, Thames Velo are delighted that she has chosen to represent the Velo in races before moving on to hopefully start a very successful racing career.

Preston Park - January 11th - 4th Cat

Admittedly I drifted towards Preston Park partly to explore something new and also to avoid the 60+ peloton at Hillingdon.

Pre race was very straight forward; it's an easy journey (about 1:15) and there was street parking just 30 metres away from the entrance to the velodrome. I arrived around 1020 and set about building the bike and sorting myself out - I'd forgotten shoes covers but with bright sunshine I figured it wouldn't really matter.

Normal registration process ensued and thereafter there was a short wait for the juniors to finish up. The 4ths were given a 5 minute warm up session and then we all gather at the line. A few extra safety remarks; watch the moss on the corners (aka Laurence's slip) and be aware of the ebb and flow of the track past the start/finish line. The race compiled of about 25-30 riders (I guess) and the largest groups were from Kingston Wheelers and Crawley Wheelers (about 4-5 each).

We were given a rolling start and a second blow of the whistle to signal the start of the racing about half a lap into the riding.

My plan of this race was simple - I was going to sit in or at the back of pack and draft until the last 5 laps. I figured that there wouldn't be any breakaways and if there was I'd change tack mid race and try make it across the breaks with other riders.

As the race developed I was surprised by the changes in speed - far more than at Hillingdon, it was clear when the group was pushing and when it was not. I haven't seen my data yet (Garmin troubles today) on a pc, but my average HR was 151; power 225w. There were attempts at breakaways, but the front of the race was never more than a quarter of a lap beyond the back of the peloton - perhaps the weather helped. Quite a few riders were dropped however and we were lapping people on a regular basis. I'm not sure if this is different to Hillingdon or if it was just more noticeable in the velodrome.

At the quiet points in the race the talk was of the Cat 3 race at Hillingdon last week. People passed their good wishes onto Martin. There was also some debate as to whether it was 40 minutes plus 5 laps or 45 minutes plus 5 laps.

So from around 35 minutes as soon as I was on the back straight I was looking to see if the 5 lap board had gone up by the start/finish line - nothing for a few laps and then I spotted it go up - 5 laps to go. I quickly dropped to the back, drifted over to the right hand side and skipped past the group, moving into the front alongside a rider from Dulwich. So far so good, I'd drafted the entire race and had reasonable legs. The pace still didn't seem to bad, so I held the front and waited for someone to attack and jump on that wheel.

One lap later, I noticed vibrations from the front of the bike. Puncture. Not a slow one, I was riding on rim. Up went my hand and the group were good enough to let me drift to the right. Game over for me.

I watched the last 3 laps and a good sprint finish from the inside. A good race, I keen to go back and try again.

Imperial Winter Series - Race 6 - Saturday 6th January

Another mixed bag of success and sadness for Thames Velo at race 6 of the Imperial Winter Series at Hillingdon race circuit.

In the 4th cat race Thames Velo riders Rob Mosley and Clark Anderson worked a simple tactic where Mosley made the hard efforts to chase down the breaks leaving Anderson to sit amongst the bunch reserving energy for the final sprint. Throughout the race Mosley rode strongly, effectively sacrificing his own hope of gaining points, to ensure no breakaways were able to capitalise a lead. This allowed Anderson to race tactically until the final laps when he found himself in a commanding position near the front and able to contest the sprint to finish in sixth position and gaining his first points of the year.

Unfortunately, in the E/1/2/3 category race, Thames Velo's Martin Porter was involved in a nasty crash. The seriousness of his injuries led to the race being abandoned and the dramatic sight of the air ambulance landing on the circuit to attend to his injuries. Porter was taken to hospital suffering five broken ribs, a bruised lung and an injured elbow. Recent reports are that he is making a good recovery.

Further afield, Laurence Manning represented Thames Velo racing the Après Winter League race at Preston park in Brighton. Manning is having a storming early season by gaining points in every race he has finished. Unfortunately on this occasion the damp conditions caused him to slide and come off in the final stages of the race when he was in position to gain more points.

Archived results and reports