So this was it. The race that always seems to signal the start of the race season, Easter Classic time! The race has memories for me. Two years ago it was a broken collarbone in the first lap, and one year ago it was the number thirteen for me and it proved lucky as I managed to avoid a crash in the final half lap, although it meant I couldn’t contest the final sprint. This year I was looking to have a very positive race, and show what I could do in what was essentially a national quality field of riders.
The morning started with gear check, sign on and number collecting, not thirteen this time, before I headed away from Castle Combe on a short road ride as part of a warm up and nerve remover. Once back I got into my race kit, before speaking with my coach about the race. Once through the plan, I got onto the rollers with my team mates to finish the warm up process, all the while drinking lots and visiting the little boys room a few times!
I made sure I was at the start line ahead of time, to guarantee a place on the front row, a crucial step for doing well in the race. Once on the line it was the normal brief from the commissaries before we got going.
I got a good start, and I was aware that Zach would attack immediately, so embedded myself at the front end of the pack. I kept this position in the pack during the first lap, and when there was an attack and I was near it. When this attack was brought back I countered it, as I was near the front and felt good.
Once a gap opened I got into TT mode, and was able to extend the gap. A few riders came across to me, not the ones I would have preferred but still better than nothing. Annoyingly after about 100m of work they sat up, however I still had a gap, so I then kicked again and got rid of them. Where the guys had come across, the pack had sped up, so after the chicane I sat up as they were close. I got back in the pack, and was straight into the front, and covered another attack at the front of affairs.
After this I tried to sit near the front, aware whilst trying to recover as much as possible, as the attack had been a good effort. When I was sat in I was able to recover a bit, and the laps went by quickly.
In the final lap I was near the front end going through the bell, although I then lost this position, dropping back. I then found George Bazley, my team mate, who was moving up, but I wanted to move up a little quicker, so out of the top chicane I had to work to get to the front, exposing myself to the wind coming to the finish, but making ground up. I was in a better place, but not close to the front enough, and in the final sprint my legs went, so I fought to the line, but I couldn’t put in a good sprint.
I was pleased with my race, and my aggression and attacks during the race. I was near the front often, and even with an attack was still able to remain there and make a sprint attempt at the end. I enjoyed the race, and it felt good to be going that quickly around a circuit that I had spent so much time over the winter training on, which no doubt helped in the efforts today.
After a cool down, a chat with the Southern Road Team Coaches and with Peter from EPIC, I stayed to watch some of the racing in the sunny weather, before heading home to prepare for the final track Icebreaker at Newport the following day.