Cambridge CC Misses the Win but Fights On.
In a race that many considered ours to loose, Cambridge CC suffered through some ill luck at the Ed Taylor memorial this past Sunday at Thurlow, near Haverhill. The victory slipped from our grasp, but tactical dominance and some convincing top ten placings promised more to come for the club on the road.
With 10 riders starting in a field of 70, including last week's Ken Wright memorial winner Basil Moss, and last year's Ed Taylor winner Digby Symons, all eyes were on us to make something of our numerical advantage.
At this point in the narrative it should be noted that Digby was suffering from a late night, his wife Katie having delivered their first born the evening before. Digby assures us it was only at Katie's insistence that he lined up for the start of the race. At any rate, congratulations to these long time and stalwart club members; as of yesterday Hector and his mum were home, healthy, and happy. After some 'special modifications' I'm sure the dreaded tandem will return to the chain gang with a 3rd set of legs to punish us.
Back to the race; We tried not to disappoint the bunch and launched attacks early and often. However, the demanding course and eager legs kept things more or less together for the first 2 laps of 10. Under sustained pressure, Digby did manage to escape in a small break. East London Velo were quick to respond with an organised chase, however.
Around this time in the race, our up-and-coming junior Owen Lake slipped off the front with two other riders; Unfortunately one of them came across Owen's front wheel. Owen came through the resulting crash thankfully only with minor injuries, but damage to his bike meant he was unable to continue.
With ELV leading the charge, Digby's break was reeled back in; As soon as the catch was made, however, Cambridge CC's next card was played as Basil Moss and Tyler Denmead launched with one other rider. With two of our strongest riders now up the road and the bunch already under strain from it's previous chasing, things were looking good.
Looking good, that is, until Basil punctured one lap later. Undoubtedly the favorite going into the race, it was heart-breaking to see him standing by the road, wheel in hand, forlornly waiting for the non-existent race service. To make matters worse, strong-man Glenn Vinnicombe also punctured out of the race.
The fall of one hero made room for another though, and Tyler proved apt for the task. The re-invigorated bunch chased to within metres of his break, prompting his single remaining companion to sit up; Tyler, however, took one look over his shoulder and disdainfully attacked once more. He stretched his lead out again over the course of the next lap and a half, only to be brought back again by a now rapidly shrinking main field.
Not content with this, Tyler joined Tim Williams and two riders from other clubs in a 3rd venture off the front shortly after this catch. Now in the closing stages, for a half lap this move looked promising, but the bunch scented blood in the water, and several individual events to bridge the gap dragged the escapees back, despite our attempts to control the pace.
In the dying kilometers of the final lap, Oliver Caddy launched from the field with a few other riders; A short time later Digby initiated the bunch sprint. The two of them managed 5th and 6th respectively, whilst I managed to overcome some truly dreadful positioning mistakes to slip into 11th. Nigel Hobday, Tyler and Tim finished in the field but out of the points. Ben Biggs also rode, but I've not heard whether it was a mechanical or a little ways to go and re-finding his race legs that kept him from the finish.
Mike Auger of VC Norwich rode very strongly off the front of the field to take the win by many bike lengths.
The primes told the story of the race though, as Digby, Basil and Tyler were awarded several of these each. Tyler also most deservedly took the most aggressive rider award after his courageous tour-de-force.
It was a good race, tough, and exciting with lots of action; Whilst we're disappointed the win got away from us, we were all very happy with the way we rode. If a little luck (and no more punctures) come our way, a win will surely follow.