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Dunsfold 3rds race report

Posted on Mar 14, 2015

SL Dunsfold 3rds - Gareth - Dave Hayward

Gareth Thomas takes Paceline’s first win on the road. Photo by Dave Hayward

Having volunteered or co-organised this event since 2011, this was my first opportunity to race it writes Gareth Thomas. I’ve always wanted to take part, so I put a lot of pressure on myself to win it. I woke up feeling very lethargic and achey with a blocked nose 48 hours before the race, which continued to yesterday. Thankfully I was feeling better this morning, but it didn’t stop it from getting me up at 05:55 with a blocked nose!

Longcross felt ridiculously tough last week, and wasn’t that enjoyable. I much prefer the rolling open road, so I welcomed my first road race since August 2013.

With no real obvious finisher in the race for us, Colin, Paul and I had a quick chat about attacking, and I spoke with a couple of Kingston Wheelers. On a narrow course where 1/4 of the left hand side of the course seems to be potholes or ruts, blocking would be able to work effectively.

As soon as the race was deneutralised, attacks were frequent. A lot of riders were moving up on the wrong side of the road and shouting “squeeze in/go left”, which is where all the potholes and ruts were! I found myself at the back of the race with Ed, who I reiterated our gameplan to. I saw Colin stop to fix his bars which had come lose in his stems bar clamp. He did well to chase back on. However, the problem required an allen key, and from what I gather speaking to him after, having fixed it, he wasn’t able to close the gap and get back on, sitting ~1 min down for a couple of laps.

Watching the attacks, groups of 4-8 were going off the front. Assuming these gaps were from tiring chasers, with an hour left, I thought I’d try to get among the action and bridged across into the headwind. Andrew Davies of Kingston Wheelers joined, but the group, which was well represented with many other teams, didn’t work at all well. Soon the bunch were with us again, which was frustrating.

I attacked again under the trees, just before the telephone box, going across to Paul Hone of Addiscombe and taking another rider came with me (I didn’t recognise the kit). The break wasn’t working as smoothly and coherently as I would have liked, and the unknown rider dropped my wheel, and my solo effort began. At this point, Paul Moore was doing a fantastic job blocking (competitors have told me he was a pain in the arse which is great!).

With 20 seconds on the bunch, and after horrendously overshooting the left hand turn at the bottom of the descent, I stayed away for a lap and a half longer before noticing 3 riders bridging about 10 seconds back. I couldn’t see the bunch behind them, and with 2 laps to go, I sat up and drifted back to them before we started working together. It was Andrew Davies of KW, Paul Hone of Addiscombe, and Dulwich’s Mat Hammond. All committed to the break.

I was feeling tired, and unsure of the others capabilities in a sprint. I had also been out on my own for 25 minutes, so felt my top end was compromised. After the respite of sharing the work woith 3 others, I didn’t want to contest the sprint. I decided to jump hard with ~10 mins left. After seeing I had the gap, I looked back to see Mat Hammond doing a big pull and I felt Andrew may have been able to bridge, which spurred me on further. I was further gambling that they would then start playing games and not want to be on the front chasing.

As I came down the descent, I had about ~15 seconds on the chasers. After scaling the hill, I was able to ease up and celebrate my return to road racing with a victory, gratis to Paul, who took what looked like a respectable top 15-20 finish. Paceline RT’s first road race, Paceline-RTs first win. Delighted!