Race Report: Portsmouth CTL Circuits 11th July 2012: A Bitter Victory

Think I've calmed down enough now to write a blog on Wednesday's race. Which was possibly one of the most gutting experiences of my life.

My first race back at Portsmouth Mountbatten Track after exams and sickness didn't start that well. The legs didn't feel like they were there for the first ten minutes of the race, I wasn't surprised given the lack of preparation that I have had in the past month. However, by fifteen minutes in something was coming, I was active on the front chasing down breaks and I was able to ride in the wheels fairly well, dodging the brutal headwind that was hitting us on one side of the track.

The majority of the race was fairly standard; a few breaks went off the front, but we chased them down reasonably well. The only thing that I did note was that the bunch really wasn't working very well together, certainly compared to the E.1.2.3 BUCS Road Race that I did back in May (the last race I rode). There was a select group that was working on the front and they seemed to be tiring towards the later part of the race.

So when at 35 minutes in, a solo break went off the front I thought it was worth a shot, knowing that my sprint wasn't up to much. I chased after him, just at an opportune moment when the main field had slowed a bit. It took me about half a lap to catch up with him, and without him knowing I managed to take his slipstream for almost a full lap.

When he did eventually notice me, we worked well together for three or four minutes, until we saw the lap board go up for three laps to go. Just as this happened we had a lone rider cross over from the main field to our little break, which was now holding the pack at about half a lap (250m). It was a good job that we did have that "bridger", as the guy that had been my breakaway companion suddenly blew his gasket and despite his awesome work pulled off and was soon engulfed by the pursuing main field.

For the last two laps I worked with the new breakaway buddy, keeping it steady, but working hard enough to hold off the main pack. Going into the final lap I tactically made sure that he was on the front for the hard headwind section and going into the finishing straight. I then clicked down a gear, and using the following tailwind managed to sprint past him to take the win.

This was where the bitterness came in. No bitter-sweet. Just as bitter as a sour lemon.
As I rolled off the track after the cool-down lap the official called me over. Then proceeded to promptly tell me that because I put my hands in the air at the finish I was disqualified. I admit I had heard him at the start say two hands on the bars, because some idiot a few weeks back took out most of the race because he couldn't celebrate properly. Yet, I don't know what it was, natural impulse, forget, excitement, adrenaline. Any one of those, or a combination of them caused me to take my hands off the bars for a victory salute for a few seconds, which apparently endangered the main field of riders who were 350 meters behind me.

I was gutted. My first race back after almost two months off and I had been duped of my victory. I had put everything into that race; in that last three laps my heart rate was at 96% max and I had lactic acid searing through my veins; then a new, unofficial rule had got the better of me.

I think I know how Cav felt two years ago now, when they disqualified him from the stage that effectively stripped him of his Green Jersey win. Someone on Twitter said "It's only a race ffs". But it's not, it's a lot more than that; it's self-esteem, it's hours of training, it's feeling like you have been singled out.

But I'll take the moral victory and come back next week, at least I know the legs are there.
Hopefully there will be no more bitterness in my future wins.

Comments

  1. Not often I'll swear in a post but that is fucking ridiculous. You won in my eyes bugger the lame technicality. Well done!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Strange rule. I've never seen an accident as a result of someone celebrating. (I've seen someone lose when they prematurely celebrated, but that's another issue)

    ReplyDelete

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