Race Report: Winchester Omega Crit #2 - Hard Graft

This afternoon we were back in Winchester for the second Omega circuits Criterium race at the Winchester Park and Ride. I came away with a similar result to last week, with a provisional 7th or 8th place; a result which I was reasonably satisfied with, but left me looking forward to doing more road races and less Crit's.

Once again the race started at a brutal pace, with the first few laps averaging well over 27mph. Starts like this were always something I struggled with when I was mountain bike racing, and things don't seem to have changed; I was flagging a bit for the first few laps to say the least.

As things settled down I managed to get myself back up to the main peloton with a few hard efforts. Unfortunately, I paid for those efforts, because as soon as I caught onto the back of the peloton a group of three went off the front, and with it the pace of the peloton itself accelerated to chase them. The acceleration spat me back out the back of the main field, which was quickly shedding riders, including both of my team mates (one of whom was unfortunately victim to a puncture).

I was left a few yards back from the main field (which had now been reduced to around 8 riders of the 25+ starters). Accompanied by two other riders, I then faced the repeat task of trying to get back onto the main pack. The three of us worked well together, although it would be fair to say that the other two riders really weren't coming through hard enough, and we were failing to bridge back across to the main field. The three man break that had gone off the front of the main field luckily came round and lapped us, the benefit was that we could then use them as a pace marker to draw ourselves back up to the peloton.

Eventually, after about 40 minutes of racing we re-joined the main field. Pretty knackered. Then with the race cut short to just 50 minutes for some reason, I had just about time to regain my breath before we kicked into the last five laps.

I'm not a sprinter, by any margin, and with 40 minutes of "peloton chasing" in my legs, a bunch sprint was even less likely to be fortuitous. However, I managed to hang on to get 7th or 8th I think, which is respectable at least. The result gets me a few more points for my licence, but it also left me greatly looking forward to a few hills in my upcoming road races; sprinting out of corners for an hour on end, and rocket-paced starts don't really seem to suit my physique or my riding nature. Bring on the road races that start the weekend after next!

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