Thames Velo Spring Road Race - 22nd April - A Good Introduction to Road Racing

Today I took part in my first real road race (rather than closed-circuit racing) - The Thames Velo Spring Road Race in Oxfordshire.
It was an early start and a 6am ferry to make the start for the 3/4/W/J race, but we made it in good time and a full field of 80 riders rolled out onto the fast, reasonably flat course behind the commissaire's  car at 09:30.

The race got off to a fast start, and the average speed stayed up at 24mph for the whole event. Before long we were into winding descents and single-file riding through small villages. Then the course opened out onto wider roads and the pace really lifted. It's quite a new sensation flying along in the peloton with the rolling road closure and the motorbike escorts!

The course had a great mix of road-types and after the wide B-road, we turned into narrower lanes and approached the only really substantial hill on the course, which helped to string the field out and shell a good few riders out the back.
I stuck in the front half of the main pack, not right on the front, but close to it - watching the breakaway attempts and conserving energy. I had made the decision after seeing a few attempts go off the front and then quickly get pulled back, that this race was almost certainly going to end in a sprint, and so a break-away would only be wasted energy (I must be learning!).

I didn't contest the PRIME sprint after the second lap, my positioning wasn't good for it and the legs weren't feeling fantastic so I wanted to save as much as I could for the sprint. Going into the last lap I stuck near the front throughout and watched as we pulled the last few breakaways back.

On the final 2k leading up to the finish I somehow found myself closer to the front than I wanted to be, as in...on the front for a bit and then sitting second-wheel. I tried to move back, but team trains were positioning themselves for the sprint and I wasn't able to find a gap.

The finish has quite a hill, before about 200 meters of flat leading to the line. I pushed too hard on the hill, and despite cresting the summit of the climb in about fifth, it was too far for me to hold out for the remainder of the sprint. I eventually crossed the line in 12th; not quite top ten, but not bad.

It was a fantastic race, loads of fun and I had my parents up there watching me too, which was really nice. In total the course was two and three quarter laps of the circuit, bringing it to 43 miles. I couldn't help but feel that perhaps a longer course would have suited me better and certainly one with more hills to string the peloton out.  Having said that I was very happy with 12th out of 80 riders; no points, but I learnt a huge amount and had a fairly good sprint.

I'm back up at Uni now and I have exams in this term, so my racing will take a bit of a back-seat. However, I'm going to keep working on my power and my sprints and hopefully come back strong for the races I have planned in July and August - can't wait!


  1. Good read Tim and a great result for your first road race.

    Keep up the good work and best of luck with those exams.


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