Race Report: Milland Hill Surrey League RR

I was told that Milland Hill was a tough circuit, nothing quite prepared me for the 25 percent gradient though, nor for the fact that we had to go up it eight times. The 65 mile race was composed of eight and a half laps of the 7.5 mile circuit; a circuit of false flats, finished with a gradient that even by Isle of Wight standards was a vicious encounter.

The race started out fast, with a break of two riders getting off early. It was clear from the outset that despite there being a few large teams in the race, there were not many riders that were willing to work. As a result I seemed to find myself on the front a fair bit for the first two laps; working with a select group of others to help reel back the breakaway. Our hard work paid off, as the two escapees were brought back into the main bunch towards the end of lap two.

For most of lap three I sat back in and tried to regain a bit of strength, following the wheels of Jimbo and Si, who made up our three man Isle of Wight team. Unfortunately, whilst we played our conservative strategy, a break of five got off the front and started working well together. I don't think I could have followed them at that point; the first three ascents of Milland Hill and the chase of the first break had taken their toll and I was struggling a fair bit.

Each subsequent ascent of the hill shed more riders out of the main peloton, and still the number of individuals willing to work was limited. The result was that that the gap to the breakaway opened up... 30 seconds, 45 seconds, 1 minute. Despite our best attempts the half dozen riders that were willing to work on the front of the main pack could not pull the escapees back, and the time gap stayed fairly constant at 60 seconds.

Going into the final two laps the pace began to build, and our select team of  workers in the main group managed to start working a bit better together. The gap was closing, and as we approached the final climb of Milland Hill and the finish line at the summit we had the five escapees in our sights.

Staying towards the front of the bunch as we hit the gradient I managed to find something in my legs. I attacked, churning the 39-23 gear to get over the crest at the front of the pursuing bunch. It was then a balls-out, pretty ragged sprint for two hundred meters or so to the finish line; I just managed to hold off the chasing main field.

I was pretty happy with the sixth place finish. It gives me another 12 points and secures my second category licence. It was a shame that a few more couldn't have worked in the main peloton to help catch the breakaway; if they had I'm fairly sure we could have brought it back together. But hey, that's the Game Theory of Cycling.

Milland Hill lived up to its reputation; it is a tough circuit that's for sure. Definitely one to come back to next year, hopefully in the break next time.


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