On Wednesday the GS Henley racers headed over to Kirtlington, just north of Oxford, for the 5th round of the ORRL league. The Kirtlington course is a short, flat, fast circuit, and last year saw the highest average race speed of the year (just over 44km/h). Pretty much all the teams had this down for a big bunch finish, and with the finish line moved to just 300 metres after the final corner (rather than the previous 2½km straight run-in) positioning into the final corner would be key. There was a threat of rain, and a stiff breeze from the west, meaning the back straight of the circuit was into a headwind, and the last mile and a half being very exposed.
With injury and illness continuing to hamper the race team, we had;
- Pierre Jackson
- Harvey Weinberger
- Pete Ganderton
- Matt Hayden
We were facing up against full teams from the other main clubs, including 10 from Outdoor Traders. The plan, as far as it went, was to police the front for breaks, and Harvey was tasked with going for the Primes…which he did with gusto…rather too much, as having not really listened to the race briefing he sprinted for the prime on lap 1, only to discover that there wasn’t one. On the second lap Pete went for a break attempt, however no-one seemed keen to go with him, and as the pace accelerated towards the first Prime he was reeled back in, and retook his position in the pack. Harvey launched from the bunch, picked up the Prime, and then found himself 50 metres off the front with one other rider (Matt Grey from BPC Spokes). They then proceeded to discuss whether they should go for a break, while the rest of the Henley team held up the pack to give them the chance to go. Finally a rider from ZeroBC (Adam Lowe) and an OTRT rider bridged over to them, and they got organised. This was a good break composition for Henley, with 2 neutrals, and our main competition (Mickey Cranks and Cowley Road) not being represented.
The break began to work well together, and with two laps to go had almost a minute. Harvey picked up the other Prime as well while he was out there. Back in the pack there was a lot of maths failure, and most people had mis-counted the number of laps remaining. With only 20 minutes of racing left panic set in amongst Cowley Road and Mickey Cranks, and they sent their strongest riders to the front of the pack to try and reel them back. Massive turns from Anthony Turner (Mickey Cranks) and Greg Fitzek (Cowley Road) started to reduce the time gap, while Pete did his best to disrupt any organisation, and while the break was brought back into sight, they came into the final mile with 25 seconds, enough to stay clear.
Harvey took second place from the break, and first in the league. The winner was Matt Grey from BPC Spokes. The bunch sprint was a rather hectic affair, with the kick happening immediately after the corner, rather too far to go for some. Pete picked up 13th for a single league point. Mickey Cranks recovered the race well, and placed 2 riders well in the sprint to recoup some losses. The big losers on the day were Cowley Road, who lost points on all their main competitors.
Full results can be found on the British Cycling website here.
Photos of the race can be found here (courtesy of Steve Cartmell from OTRT, who also gets full credit for the image used in this post)
League points have not yet been updated, however Henley will have extended their lead over Cowley Road in second place. Next up is Dalton Barracks on Saturday 17th June. with plenty of spaces left. We have 7 assured places, and up to 10 (though as the track limit is so large at Dalton, this can and probably will be broken). Dalton Barracks is a great place to try racing, as it’s wide and un-technical, so very little issues with running out of space.