Never say never. Last time I raced at Cutmill I saidI wouldn’t go back, as the course just didn’t suit me. I realise now that’s just not true.
Was cautiously looking forward to this race, as my first 3rd’s only road race. It was also one of the first road races I’d gone into with a degree of confidence. I knew the course, and I knew I could hold my own among 3rds. The race was to be 7 laps of the 7 mile Cutmill circuit.
Things got off to a reasonable start after the flag dropped, straight away on the first run up towards the main hill of the course Dom attacked solo. I quickly worked my way to the front to try and slow things a touch, which seemed to work OK. First time up the climb felt manageable, but I had too much PSI in my rear and was spinning a touch in the greasy conditions. Dom’s effort was fairly quickly closed up on the run to the tight hairpin and the group was back together.
On the fast descent everyone’s heart rate skipped a beat when the commisaires car shed its flashing light cover. A fairly sizeable white plastic object. which made the loudest noise I’ve heard in a road race as Damien ran over it and it shattered into a bunch of pieces. Before I even knew what was happening I’d managed to avoid a piece. I honestly thought someone had crashed seriously hard, quite a scary moment. Things were slowed soon after as we came across a road sweeper in action.
We were soon going again after a quick stop and the pace was still fairly high. 2nd time up the hill and Ed tried an attack, which was again shut down after a fairly short period of time.
Down the back of the course and up the lane back towards the main climb, was where a guy a couple of wheels ahead of me to the left decided to take a feed, in doing so touched wheels with Paul of Paceline, he went down and took the guy to my left down, going head of handlebars, and also taking Damien of Paceline down too. I narrowly avoided and was then up the road with a gap to the bunch with Ralph of Norwood. Seconds later the race was stopped which seemed fairly bizarre considering the guys in the crash weren’t too bad. One had a suspected broken collarbone with the others minor scrapes.
We stood around having a good natter for 20 minutes with the race stopped. A good opportunity to discuss things at least. I was stood next to Ralph, we talked tactics and good places to attack, he made it clear where he would be going for it with two to go so I made a mental note to try and be near or on his wheel.
As it happened it wouldn’t be too far away as after the delay it was decided that the race would be cut by 2 laps so there were only 3 to go. So it turned into a bit more a ctriterium effort given the length of racing left. I was still feeling good as things got back under way, and was keen on trying to force some breaks, as I had a good feeling I could try and get a placing this way.
We went round for another lap, and instead of waiting for Ralph to jump, I went for it before the hairpin, but was soon joined by him and another Dynamo guy, we worked well for half a lap, but just couldn’t keep any sort of a gap up on the fast descent.
Another lap in Sam A from Paceline and another Dynamo guy went up the road, and despite our best efforts trying to block they were soon reeled in on the main climb, despite it looking like a convincing break.
With one to go myself Ralph and Dynamo had one last break, and I really thought this would stick, as the bunch seemed to be tiring a touch, and we initially had a really good jump. Back down the back of the course though a couple jumped across, then soon after it was closed up, however the pace was still high and things strung out. We went through the tight lane section of the course and I was on the front still pushing hard. I thought we still had a minor gap so wanted to push on up towards the hill.
This proved to be a poor decision as I felt the burn on the way up the hill. I was moving back through the group until I decided to give it a proper sprint effort after having recovered from my earlier effort a touch. But being so deep in the group it was really sprint for a bit get blocked/ held up try and move around and then get the same block from another rider. Eventually a gap opened on the other side of the road and I went full gas up towards the finish, which was when I must have made up about 10+ places to just cross the line 10th.
Frustrating because at the line the closing speed difference I had on everyone around me felt huge. Had I eased off earlier and kept the effort high up the hill initially, I would have been sprinting for a much more competive place.
Lesson learned though, this is the first race that has made me realise I do actually have a decent sprint/kick that I can hold for 30+ seconds, even after several hard efforts. Something I haven’t used in other races, and haven’t been able to fully exploit yet. But no doubt something I should in the future.
Overally pleased to get a result from a race I was expecting to not suit me, even if it is only 1 point.
Have Richmond Park TT coming up this weekend, then Crystal Palace Crits on Tuesday followed by Dunsfold 3rds race the following weekend. Probably my best chance for a win so far this year.