Surrey League Cutmill Road Races
Paceline were out in force on Sunday at the two Surrey League races held on the Cutmill circuit, and promoted by the Army CU. Maryka Sennema was back in action in the morning’s 2/3W race, while in the afternoon’s 2/3 race there were mixed fortunates for the men in a tough and attritional race.
Having battled top national and pro teams in atrocious conditions at the Tour of the Reservoir at the start of the month Maryka Sennema continued her fine form, with the undulating circuit, chill wind and a smaller than expected field played into the hands of the reigning national hill climb champion.
“As I wasn’t doing the Cheshire Classic but wanted to get a race in this weekend, I entered this race hoping to see a decent-sized field of 2nd and 3rd cats. I’m allowed to do 2nd cat races as a 1st cat vet, it’s one of the SL rules. But on the day we only had 13 riders, mostly 3rd cats. It was the first road race for a few of them I think, as they were far too polite rolling out from HQ in the neutralised. I have to say I’ve never been able to ride right behind the lead car and never once be pushed out by other people! I spent much of the first lap on the front just to stay safe on the descents and suss out the course. But after that, I was content to stay in the wheels until things started to settle down.”
“On lap two of six, on the dead corner just after the Sands descent, I found myself with a good line through it and with most of the others cornering quite gingerly I thought I’d just kick and see what happened. I got a little gap and kept pushing, then was joined by three other riders for a bit before another four riders latched back on by the main road a mile later. So that was the group of thirteen down to seven after a third of the race. I then sat up for a bit to think about where next to attack. Still musing on this a lap later when, on the steep bit before the finish line, I stood up on the pedals to push the pace a bit and for the first time I could feel nobody behind me on the climb. Sometimes the best place and method of attack is the least-expected one… where nobody thinks you’ll just ride off the front like that! I kept going when the road flattened half a minute later and sneaked a look back to see a 50m gap already and everyone still riding 2 abreast. So that was that then! Solo break for as long as I lasted.”
“The time gaps came often enough for me to realise by the middle of the fifth lap that I wasn’t going to be caught. In the end I gained a minute a lap so that I finished about 3 min ahead of the rest of the bunch on one of my favourite courses. There were some strong riders but there didn’t seem to be a concerted effort to chase. Glad to do the team proud today!”
The men’s cat 2/3 race in the afternoon was set to be tough given the notoriously demanding circuit and a strong line up of riders. “It was definitely a hard race today, faster and longer than when I raced here last year and with a far higher rate of attrition,” said Pat Wright, who put in a great ride to finish fifth and pick up some important Surrey League points.
The race took an early toll on the team with Thomas Whatley and Ed Francis puncturing in the early laps and with the hilly circuit less kind to rouleurs both Andy Lack and Paul Moore put in admirable efforts to control the bunch with teammates up the road before succumbing on lap five.
New Paceline member Benoit Ramsey showed very well, making the first of the race’s two main breaks, while Dom Clegg and Jon Freeman both finished strongly in the bunch having played a team role in blocking and covering moves in the latter half of the race.
Pat’s result is all the more impressive given the quality of the field and in light of the work he put in throughout the race, making the initial break with Benoit and five others, and then when that was brought back bridging to the winning break with four laps to go.
“The first meaningful break formed with about 7 laps to go and consisted of Rich Cartland (Southdown), James Bradley (TCC), Dulwich, Cycleworks, another whose kit I didn’t recognise, Benoit and me.”
“The seven (though quickly whittled down to six) of us worked pretty well together, everyone doing strong turns and so I was a little surprised when we were caught after just less than two laps away. It was very noticeable that by now, the bunch had significantly dwindled in size and that the pace was obviously taking it’s toll.”
“With 4 to go, I could see a promising move developing up the road as we crested the main climb, so worked my way up the outside of the bunch as the road flattened out and attacked. I got a gap and was joined by riders from Cycleworks and Wyndymilla for the descent through The Sands. We gained contact with the three up the road which included eventual winner James Lowden (Neon Velo).”
“For the rest of the race, we worked well together, generally staying fairly organised and sharing the workload evenly. Coming up to the final climb, the cat and mouse began and the pace slowed significantly. James Lowden attacked at the base of the steep section and predictably rode away from the rest of us.”
Pat’s fifth place continues a very strong start to the season and it’s surely not long before we see him on the top step of a road race podium.