Portsmouth Track Ray Martin - 18th April - Tactics, Tailwinds and Victory!

The plan for yesterday's race was to sit in the bunch and just get my top eight finish that I needed to move out of 4th Cat...It didn't quite turn out like that. I got the result, but it was a bit more of an exciting race than I expected....

The weather was grim as six members of the Wightlink Race Team travelled over on the ferry for the race. It looked like similar to last week we would have a wet race and be covered head-to-toe with Pompey grit. Turning up at the track the turnout looked like it was down on numbers, but by the time the race started, the full field of 45 riders was filled and it looked set to be another hard race...

I started right at the back, keen to sit-in and conserve energy as a lesson from last week. As attacks started going off the front though, I began to move up. Fifteen minutes in, a group of three riders went off the front and got a good gap; it looked promising, and looked like they might work together, so I bridged across to them and once again found myself in a breakaway!

What was going on, this was not the plan...I was meant to be reserving energy and having a conservative race; instead I was sat in a four-man break with a heart-rate through the roof! Having said that, it seemed to be working! One guy dropped off the back quickly, but then lap after lap we were gaining ground; "15 seconds up", "20 seconds up", "Half a lap up", "Three-quarters of a lap up" were the calls from the spectators. It was working! Perhaps my breakaway dream had finally come true!

But then we hung there, legs pounding and hearts racing; working well together, but not able to bridge that final 1/4 of a lap. I considered going at it alone to try to get round, but it would have taken a mammoth effort, and I wasn't sure if I had it in me when I was already red-lining, and if it didn't work then that would have been it, I would have had nothing left for the finish.

Then we began to be caught...gradually my two companions (and myself) began to tire. One of them dropped off and our chances dropped, we were back at half a lap up, and falling. The headwind was strong on one side of the track and it was taking its toll, it looked like it wasn't going to work. So after a good 15 minutes off the front I turned to the other guy "Good effort mate, but this isn't going to work", and we sat up.

It was so close, tantalisingly close, but it wasn't to be. As I took a drink and let the pack engulf me I cursed a little under my breath; I had done it again, wasted energy on a pointless break, and now I thought the legs would have nothing in them for the sprint.

I decided the only way I was going to be able to do anything for the finish now was to play it very conservative. I sat right back in the pack, watched my heart-rate monitor and made sure that for the next ten minutes it stayed down below 150bpm, in an attempt to keep some energy. I drank almost a whole bottle of energy drink and let the others do the work on the front.

Soon I found Harry Veale's wheel, I knew he would get a good placed finish, as he has done all season so far, so I thought that even if I could just stick with him I should be able to get my 8th place. We were sat quite far back as we went into the last 5 minutes before the 3 lap countdown. I had to admit I was a little worried, but I put my faith in the I-team lead-out train emerging and sat there. Perhaps I had my head down too much, trying to avoid wasting energy, but I barely noticed when with five laps to go a group of three riders went off the front and got half a lap up very quickly. I shouldn't have worried though, because as the pace picked up in the final three laps we pulled them back.

With two laps to go we began to move up... then Harry kicked on the first bend of the last lap. Damn, that lad's got some power! I wasn't sure I could hold his wheel, but I managed to...just. We were flying round the top of the track passing the whole front group as we headed into the final straight. I was out of the saddle, close on Harry's wheel as I clicked down a gear in the hope that I might be able to kick again with the bit of a tailwind on the finishing straight. It worked! The legs seemed to respond to the huge amount of adrenaline flowing through them, and I built up just enough speed to get around Harry and we took the one-two on the line.

So, one hell of a race! Grim weather conditions, a mouthful of Pompey grit, a very nearly successful breakaway, a tactical recovery and A WIN! The first win of the season for myself, and for the Wightlink Race Team.
It feels good to have finally got a result, especially in a race with 3rd Cats as well, it seems that the Easter training has paid off and the legs and mind are finally doing what I want them to do!

Bring on my first proper road race on Sunday up in Oxfordshire!

All photos courtesy of Neil Andrews - Thanks again Neil!


  1. Great race Tim and another good race report and that's how it looked trackside. I didn't think your initial break was going to work but if it had you would gain hero status and people would talk about it for years to come. I also didn't think the last breakaway was going to be caught as no one reacted and even with three laps to go the pace seemed sedate.
    The last lap was too exciting. I couldn't believe the work you and Harry did to catch the break and pass the field on the last lap. Really should have got a photo of you two crossing the line but I like to video the finish to try and spot places before the official results come out but I failed this week.
    Sorry that you won't be there next week.
    Congratulations again on the win and promotion to Cat 3

  2. Well done Tim! A win in a 3/4 race, great stuff. I guess some of the points you have (the ones over 10) count towards your 2nd licence?

    Sounds like an exciting race, winning after all that effort in the breakaway takes some doing. That Easter training must have worked!!

    You needed ChrisRhymerPhotos.com to get the victory shot !!



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