Surrey League May 3 Day
With the overall GC in mind I spent much of Stage 1 on the Alfold/Dunsfold courses toward the back of the bunch, writes Pat Wright. On the final Alfold lap, about 70km into the race, I attacked with Stu Spies from London Dynamo on the flat section approaching Plaistow. After about 10 minutes of 2-up, we got over to the five guys, including Gareth, who had been up the road for well over an hour already.
On the penultimate Dunsfold descent the bunch were closing in and the catch seemed inevitable. Tempting as it was to sit up, Spies, James Bradley (Twickenham CC), Stuart Bettis (Southdown Bikes), Gareth and I kept working hard.
We were then joined by Matt Cryer (Army CC), which seemed to give us renewed impetus and the gap went back out on the final lap. Gareth and Bettis lost contact, which left Bradley, Spies, Cryer and I to plough on. We all had teammates working selflessly to disrupt things behind in the bunch and allow us to stay away.
Cryer looked strong in the final miles, Spies and I were still doing our turns on the front, whilst Bradley was sitting on. Approaching the finish hill Spies lead it out while Bradley and Cryer kicked hard about halfway up. I couldn’t go with them but had enough left to go round Spies in the final 200m to take 3rd and the green sprints jersey.
Bletchingley on Sunday was to prove the decisive stage of the weekend and the riders in the Top 10 here were ultimately the same 10 in the final GC after stage 3.
On lap 2, the Yellow Jersey (James Bradley) punctured. A number of his teammates waited to try and pace him back up to the bunch but unfortunately he had a long wait for neutral service and was put out of the running for the GC.
Five riders, including pre-race favourite Jamie Lowden, went away on the second ascent of Outwood Lane after 32k. For the next two laps Dom, Jon and I worked hard on the front of the bunch to keep the break within reach.
The fourth time up Scott’s Hill and another three riders chipped off the front and started working together to pull away. On the drag up Bletchingley High Street and with the three still in sight, Peter Allan, Wayne Bebba (Adalta CC) and I set off in pursuit. After a fast and furious descent down Cooper’s Lane we caught the trio and formed a strong group of six, chasing the lead group.
We worked well together and caught the remnants of the early break by the finishing hill. My legs were pretty cooked by the end and the best I could do was to finish 8th in my group, losing valuable seconds to those ahead of me and also one place in the GC. Jamie Lowden put in a dominant ride to win solo by over two minutes and establish what was to prove an unassailable lead overall.
Stage 3 at Edenbridge saw three riders, including the wearers of the white KOM jersey (Richard Cartland, Southdown Bikes) and green Sprints jersey (James Bradley), attack on the first lap in pursuit of more points in those competitions. Tom did some impressive work on the front to ensure that this move was never likely to stick. Unfortunately, toward the end of the stage, Dom suffered a puncture and was not able to get back to the bunch.
Once the early escapees had been caught and in spite of the best efforts of myself and others looking to establish breaks, the race seemed destined to end in a bunch finish with the yellow jersey Jamie Lowden doing an impressive job of riding down attacks and keeping things together. With 25k or so to go, however, six riders managed to get away from the bunch. A frantic chase then ensued for the final lap, led largely by Twickenham CC. This saw everyone from the break brought back other than Albert Ellison (Team Bottechia UK), who put in a heroic ride to win solo and move into second in the GC.
Having worked ourselves into decent positions for the finish, frustratingly Jon and I had our sprints disrupted. Jon finished 16th on the stage and I came 21st, both of us on the same time as the bunch. This left me in 5th place overall which I was very pleased with.
Overall, an excellent weekend of racing with great teammates who worked selflessly on my behalf… and to whom I definitely owe some drinks!