On Sunday there was the final round of the ORRL for 2017. GS Henley went in with a 25 point lead, after strong performances from Paul Elcock and Ben Wrigglesworth at Great Milton way back in July.
High Wycombe Cycling Club had revived the old Oakley Road Race course for this late-season round, and Henley entered a team of 4 with a broad mixture of experience (and injuries) looking to seal league victory.
- Pete Ganderton (4 days out of cast from a broken wrist)
- Joe Edwards (coming back after a long-lasting knee injury)
- Martin Merryweather (legendary event organiser!)
- Nick Parris (first ever road race)
The main competition for the league was Cowley Road Condors, who were missing league winner Greg Fitzek, with Mickey Cranks looking to pinch 2nd place in the league off them, led by the ever reliable Anthony Turner. The race went off pretty hard from the off, with a variety of attacks on the first couple of laps testing everyones legs. The Condors had a clear plan to try and neutralise any attacks from other league teams and keep the race together, and despite repeated efforts from Pete and Anthony Turner from Cranks, for the first hour the pack stayed together.
With 5 laps to go, a non-league rider (Patrick Biel) made a solo break, and gained about 30 seconds on the pack…with the league teams marking each other out, he managed to hold on and win, an exceptional effort! Never quite out of sight, but able to stay strong for over an hour while the chase never really got organised.
Coming into the final couple of kilometres the peleton was cagey, with everyone thinking about the slightly draggy finish, and at the front of the pack there was a touching of wheels, with several riders going down. Joe was in the right place and avoided it, Pete had flashbacks to Great Milton, avoided the crash but was put out of position for the finish. Nick unfortunately finished his first road race doing a spectacular forward role into a nettle-bed…however proved more adept at landing than Pete, and walked away unhurt!
Meanwhile, up the road Joe was showing that his return to racing saw him in great form, picking up 5th in the bunch sprint, 6th overall, and (most importantly) first finisher from the league clubs, sealing the league victory for Henley! Behind, Condors challenge faded, and they failed to grab any league points, while Cranks narrowly missed grabbing second place, with 2 riders in the top 10.
On a personal note, I’d like to thank everyone who turned up and represented the club throughout the league…from the first TT back in May, the Team Time Trial, and the 8 rounds of the road races. It’s been a real team effort, and everyone who signed up was a part of it. It’s probably been the most open league season ever, with a different winner nearly every race. I’m really proud of the effort, and the attitude we raced with…while we held a lead, we never tried to just defend, but always pushed to make the racing hard!
Thanks also has to go to all the race organisers from all the clubs, as well as all the volunteers, who commit so much time and effort to allow the sport to continue!
Final League Standings
|Cowley Road Condors||138|
|Mickey Cranks CC||134|
|Didcot Phoenix CC||70|
|Bicester Millenium CC||33|
|High Wycombe CC||16|