Saturday, 1 June 2013

Crit Racing 1 - The Milk Race & Peebles Tweedlove Crit

Last weekend I headed south to race in the reincarnation of the Milk Race, which was being run as a crit in Nottingham town centre. I was feeling pretty good about my form, having won the Ingliston Crit on the tuesday and come 3rd behind a very strong Natalie Milne and Katie Archibald on the Saturday. However this race was going to be at the next level with Olympic Champion Dani King racing as well as Olympian Lucy Martin and a number of other pro women from the Wiggle Honda and Boels Doleman squads.

Dani King,  Lucy Martin.. and me! Bit surreal..
We drove to Doncaster the night before, and it felt like a very long drive, not getting to the hotel till 8pm so I was very glad the race wasn't till 2:15 on the Sunday. We headed into Nottingham town centre hoping we would find somewhere to park the car, after a bit of driving in circles we eventually did. We had plenty of time so headed to the event village to have a look, my first thought was wow this is going to be a spectacle! There was so many people there, probably helped by the beautiful sunny weather and I couldn't wait to get racing in front of those crowds!

So after dealing with the strange sticky numbers that were just falling off and having a ceremonial sign on I warmed up and headed out for a few laps of the course. Even just going round in practice there was loads of people clapping and cheering, it was great! My luck was in as they stopped us for the start just as I was coming round to the start/finish line so I was right on the front row which was going to be important as there was almost 50 women entered and the tight technical course meant the race would probably split up quickly.

The pace was fast from the off and I found myself near the front at the slight rise before the start/finish straight which was probably going to force any splits in the bunch so I went to the front to push on a bit and catch out any people who had had bad starts. This meant I was on the front going over the finish line on the first lap and got my name announced! The crowds were insane, just so many people, but you kind of forgot about it because the course demanded so much attention. I kept up near the front of the bunch and was 3rd wheel going into the first sprint lap, I was in a good place but when Hannah Barnes decided to go for it.. wow no one was following that, the gap she got from one acceleration was insane! After that it was full on for a few laps as breaks tried to go, I found myself just not having the kick to get on the tails of people attacking and trying to work with people in the bunch to pull them back but there was so many teams it was hard to know who was going to help chase and who was going to just sit on the front and slow the bunch down. Eventually, about 30 minutes into the 50 minutes, Dani King was away on her own and there was a group of about 17 behind which I was in. At this point I started to loose my concentration, I was still feeling good but just kept slipping back in the bunch. It was really hot but I was struggling to find a good place to take a drink because it was just corner after corner after corner..

Eventually we hit 5 laps to go, I was glad I'm not gonna lie! I forced myself to concentrate and move up, I managed to get into 2nd wheel with 3 laps to go and was on the front with 2 laps to go before trying to get back into the line as Emma Trott upped the pace a bit. I was about 4th going into the last lap but just couldn't hold it going up the rise on the final lap as people attacked either side of me and I was just pushed wide going into the last corner and almost went into the barriers, I pushed as hard as I could going up to the finish line and finished in 11th, just behind Lucy Martin. I was pretty happy to be up in that select group but annoyed I'd messed up the finish, but it was much improved from other crits of that level I've done.

So after the mega drive home I was straight into another crit on Tuesday evening in Peebles, this was part of the tweedlove festival and because there was a family ride before the womens race there was again big crowds out to watch. After finishing 4th in this race last year and being extremely gutted watching the podium take place I was determined to do better this year. There was a small field, to say the least, with only 9 I think. The race was only 30 minutes and I decided to just put the pressure on from the start up the short but steep hill on the course and pushing on over the top of it into the finish straight for the first few laps meant Maddy Robinson and I established a bit of a lead but with Flora not far behind we had to work to open up the gap, which we did well. About 15 minutes in I squeezed it on again and got away on my own, from there on it was just about keeping the pressure on and once my sister finally started giving me time checks (she thought I was saying "climb" instead of "time"..) I knew I was away. I got into the last 3 laps with a good lead but kept pushing just because I was so worried about falling or puncturing or something! Finally I got my moment to put my arms in the air for the first time this year.. Its a good feeling!
On the attack in Peebles

Podium in Peebles
Think I need a bit more practice with the arms in the air thing..
Thanks to my sister for the photos at Peebles, theres loads more really good ones of the mens and womens race, as well as from other races on her flickr page here:

 Full Results from the Milk Race are here:

Thanks very much to the organisers of both races and all the spectators for coming to support them. Also a quick apology to my Geography teacher Mr Pyper, if the time spent travelling to and from the races had been spent studying instead I probably would have done much better in my exam on Thursday..

Next up I've got the Junior Boys Scottish Champs tomorrow, which I got a wee mention in the preview of which you can read here:
Then I'm off to Redditch on Tuesday to do the next round of the Johnson Health Tech GP Series and then to London on Saturday to do the London Nocturne and the next round of the British Series at Hillingdon on Sunday. Will try and do some short updates while I'm on the road!

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