Sunday 16th July, in the words of Adam a big day for the Tour and an even bigger day for the old Surrey League with its own summit finish up Lieth Hill. An average gradient of 6.6%, 2.03km it was sure to split the race up in the last two kilometres.
The race itself was on a 17km loop, fast and rolling, no major climbs on the lap itself so to begin with it was fairly fast, attacks went and came back for the majority of the race. 8 or 9 riders got up the road around halfway, however I was in the fortunate position of Adam being in the group with me, putting in a big shift on the front, to try and bring down the gap as much as he could which was really appreciated. With a small group a few km’s later we caught the front group bringing it to around 15 guys with 1 lap to go.
As there was a decent sized group of us it was easy to sit in for the majority of the final lap saving myself for the finish. 5 guys did get away from the group coming into the final stages of the race building a gap of roughly 20 seconds to the rest of the group with myself in it. Coming into Leith Hill the plan was just to ride my own pace which I did, eventually giving me a gap from the breakaway group and then picking the other riders off one by one, coming over the line solo for the win which was a nice feeling. It marked my first ever road race win and quite a cool circuit to do it on. Thank you to Adam for the work on the day before the climb!
From there it was off to Belgium a few days later for five days with three races planned. There would not be any summit finishes over here though!
Wednesday was a fairly flat circuit, a slight drag before the finish, but flat and a few sections of cross winds. The wind speed was not exactly high causing massive splits but for sure put pressure on the bunch, a breakaway up the road in the final four laps I got away with 7 others coming across the line 32nd.
Friday was the race with the second highest amount of elevation I have done out in Belgium. 117km and 780 meters of elevation. This could be classed as “Hilly” for Belgian standards but still flat for some races compared to the UK! There were a fair few splits of different groups but eventually 32 guys were away, and I was in a chasing group behind. Coming into the finish on a super wide road I sprinted in for 49th which isn’t amazing, but it was more experience gained for me.
Sunday the last race of the trip was a pure race of attrition, 4 weather seasons in 2 hours 40 minutes of racing, proper exposed Flanders roads with some cross winds to negotiate. Within the first few laps there was a split in the wind, so a solid amount of chasing to get back on, then caught in a crash, so round two of chasing began. A break of 20 guys and then 16 guys in my group which turned out to be the “Peloton” which was crazy as about 100 guys started so that was quite something. This time the sprint was a bit less sketchy crossing the line 26th overall giving me my best result out in Belgium this season.
Still, plenty of work to do in the coming weeks for the tail end of the season.
As always thank you to Pedal Potential, Peter Mercer Soft Tissue Therapy, and Project 51 for the continued support.