Early season racing update: 4 wins and the first national race!

Strada-Sport have been getting the racing in early this year with Tommy Power, Ben Beynon, Zak Coleman and Morris Bacon all racking up the points before the start of the road race season.

Tommy Power and Ben Beynon were the first to start their racing at the East London Velo Winter Series. Ben managed a 7th place at round 3 in a hard race which finished in a bunch sprint. The next round saw both Tommy and Ben in the top 10 with Tommy taking the win! Tommy bridged over to an early break made by Tim Allen (Vision Innovative Leisure RT) and together they put a minute and a half into the bunch. Tommy then took the sprint for the win on the Hoggenburg.

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The next week Strada-Sport had 7 riders making the journey down to Hog Hill for the second round of the Lee Valley Youth & Junior Races in the morning and the 4th round of the East London Velo Winter Series in the afternoon. The youth racing started off well with Adam Allen taking a solid 13th to start his season in the U14 boys race and Malachy Curry placing 12th in the U16 race with a quality field. The junior race saw Ben Turner, Ollie Wood and Zak Coleman start their seasons in a high-quality field for the early season circuit race. Zak managed to get away with Josh Copley (Catford) and take the win with over a minute’s lead on the bunch, Ollie Wood and Ben Turner helped to control the bunch putting in solid starts to the season. The 2/3/4 race was next up in the afternoon and despite attacks throughout the race (including one Tommy instigated with teammate Ben Beynon) the bunch came to the bottom of the Hoggenberg for the final time together. Tommy then managed to win his first ever bunch sprint to take victory and add to Zak’s 1st place in the junior race earlier that day.

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Last weekend, Morris Bacon and Tiago Fougo took part in round 6 of the East London Velo Winter Series. Morris put in several attacks throughout the race in an attempt to avoid a bunch sprint and force a smaller group finish, however after being caught with 3 laps to go after a solo move the race then came down to a bunch sprint. Morris hit out early and held on to take his first win the of the year and the team’s 4th! Morris’s Report:

‘I turned up at Hog Hill this afternoon after a snowy drive down. I felt well-prepared today with choice of kit etc and arrived in plenty of time for a decent warm-up.

I was keen to do a good ride after our fantastic opening campaign, but this being my first race I wasn’t sure how I’d go. Tiago was also there today so it was good to warm up and shoot the breeze with him.

There must’ve been 30, possibly 35 riders lined up at the start. We soon got moving and I made sure I was right at the pointy end, despite some shite cornering by yours truly the first few laps.

I started to get my eye in however and began looking around and weighing up the opposition. A few attacks were going off, nothing that seemed a threat though, and after a few laps my confidence was growing as I felt stronger every time up the Hoggenberg.

The bunch was whittled down considerably by around the halfway point, must’ve been no more than 20 riders left in there. I put some pressure on up the Hoggenberg and got a tentative gap with a few riders on the group behind for a couple of laps. By this point the riders to watch had become more clear, as the race became more attritional. I found myself away with a Corley rider on two instances, and attacked over the punchy ramp after the Hoggenberg.

I was hanging out there for a lap or so, but could see the group lined out behind. I was riding hard and feeling good, but I had failed to draw out a select group with the attack. I continued to press on but without completely burying myself, and with 3 laps to go I was re-absorbed by the chasers. Again I made sure to pitch up at the head of the group. I had the familiar nerve-racking feeling when I heard the bell, and just made sure I was at the front of the group and in a good position. I have been boxed in too many times at Hog Hill and I was not going to let that happen today.’

Someone put in a dig on the penultimate lap so the pace went up which actually worked in my favour – There was less jostling than anticipated approaching the finish. It was strung out into the final hairpin but remained altogether. A couple of guys kicked off early on the slope, I was feeling good so was itching to pounce on any move that went. The riders who had kicked on began to run out of steam. I approached the traffic cone I had made a note of previously as a good point to launch my sprint. I hit it hard before the corner hugging the inside line, the incline started to bite but I dug deep in an all-out effort. I could just about see and hear a rider draw dead-level with me on my right side. I was sure for a moment that he was going to pull ahead before the line. It turned into a real drag race as we were neck-and-neck, but I kept digging and committed completely, crucially managing a lunge (of sorts) for the line. No chance to celebrate, I wasn’t convinced I had won until I asked the marshals in the judging box, which they confirmed.

So all-in-all a good day out. Tiago deserves a mention for getting round his first race at Hog Hill, even after suffering a puncture. Good work mate, it was tough out there.

I’m really pleased to have contributed to Strada’s stonking start to 2017. Let’s keep the ball rolling lads.’

The next day, Tommy Power took part in the first national race of the year in a field consisting of the best domestic riders in the country including 6 riders from the UCI registered BIKE Channel Canyon. After starting at the back Tommy had a lot of work to do to make his way through the field towards the front of the bunch, by which point the main break of 10+ riders had already established its lead and meant that Tommy had to wait until a lap to go to move himself up to the front of the bunch and then make his move off the front of the group. Once Tommy established a lead over the bunch with Tristan Grigalis of PMR they were then caught by a small group of 5 riders just before Lodge Hill in the lead up to the finish. Tommy had to settle for 3rd in his group which had the main break in their sights which put him 16th overall. Lessons learnt but a class finish with the field that was there! Tommy’s report:

‘I kicked off my road racing season today at the traditional season opener Pedal Perfs Road Race in Portsmouth. After two wins in two weeks at Hog Hill I knew I was in good form but this was a chance to test myself against some of the best domestic riders in the country with BIKE Channel Canyon fielding a full team along with a multitude of other Elites and 1st Category riders on the start sheet.

 It didn’t start off well; I was right at the back as we rolled off into the neutralised section and as soon as the flag dropped everyone put the hammer down at the front and the race strung out into one long line.

 Those were the grimmest 15 minutes of the race as I picked my way through the stragglers up the first of 5 ascents of Boarhunt Climb followed by working my way up through numerous groups into the headwind on the back straight of the course.

 After 1 lap it had settled down and I was safely in the main peloton. The main break of 10+ riders had gone by this point (the lesson being is you always have to be up near the front if you want a chance of getting in the break, especially in a race as short as Perfs) and the chasing peloton quickly settled into a routine of consistent through and off, trying to reel them back.

 From that point on I just sat in the bunch, conserving energy and taking it as easy as I could in a race of that calibre.

 With one lap to go I started moving myself up and in the final headwind section as the group was constantly splitting up I kept myself up in the first 5 riders, making sure I was on the right end of any splits.

 Turning onto the downhill tailwind section, everyone was either tired or just inattentive as I launched a massive attack and quickly got a gap. I caught and passed Tristan Grigalis of PMR and built up a big lead on the descent. He rejoined me after we got onto the flat and we worked well together, keeping up an average speed of over 45 km/h with the favourable conditions.

 By this point, we were almost out of sight of the bunch, despite being on a flat, wide open road. As we turned right onto the finishing circuit I was hopeful of a placing, although I was clueless as to how many were up the road.

 We continued to work together, but I dropped him on a drag and was on my own again with just over 3km to go. At this point I forged on but could see a group of 5 counter attackers coming up behind me in the distance. They caught me on the straight before the ascent of Lodge Hill and I tagged onto the back, trying to keep my powder dry before the final effort to the finish.

 Turning left onto Lodge Hill there were six of us with an unassailable lead on the bunch, and to our amazement, we caught sight of some of the original break up the road.

 However, they were too far ahead to be caught, and so my attention turned to the job of beating my breakaway companions. As the gradient started to bite, one attacked and split the group. I responded and sat near the front, with only 4 of us now in contention.

 Unfortunately, having not crossed the finish line I didn’t have a strong idea of where it was and everybody got the jump on me coming to the line. I managed to pass one rider but had to settle for 3rd in the pursuers group and 16th overall. If only I’d gone over the top of the attacker on the steep section I maybe could have gone a couple of places better and broken into the points but unfortunately I lacked the killer instinct of the last two weeks and got done in the sprint.

 In conclusion, it was a decent race to start the season off with and I’m glad I’ve got the strength to mix it up in these kinds of races but I’m obviously frustrated about my poor finishing tactics and how the race ended. Also, get to the front at the start if you want to finish near the front! I now turn my attention to the Tour of Skegness next weekend (our legendary winter training camp), the Doltcini Classic on 26/02 and the start of our defence of the Eastern Road Race League at Crest on 05/03.’

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Ben Beynon was also racing in the Ely and District 25 mile TT in tough conditions and although he didn’t have the best run up to the event he placed a respectable 5th place (in a time of 59:40) ahead of some quality riders even though he didn’t feel ‘on song’. Here’s what Ben had to say:

Ely hardriders 2017 living up to its name as always, 2 degrees, rain and strong winds set up a brutal day out. After a tough week run up to the event with a training ride crash, only 3 hours riding and some personal challenges, form was always going to be hard to find.

‘I navigated the difficult set of corners at the start which claimed so many accomplished riders in the previous years without any problems. The course seemed to always have a headwind and finding a rhythm on the bumpy Cambridgeshire roads was a nightmare.

Power unfortunately wasn’t what I know I can produce, and I had to adjust my position slightly with my elbow which is still healing from my crash. Nevertheless it was a hard fort effort ahead of the start of the season proper.

Onwards and upwards.’

 

Massive well done to all the riders who have raced so far! Now onto the Eastern Region Road Race league!

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