Mike Smith wins the Ras de Cymru
Story posted July 5, 2010
After five days, six stages and 230 miles of racing, the Ras de Cymru came to an end at the top of Llangynidr Mountain with Corley Cycles rider, Mike Smith in yellow. The 2010 edition of this stage race for 2/3/4 category riders that is based at the Caerleon Campus of the University of Wales (Newport), had enjoyed good weather but ended with the riders battling gale-force wind and rain as well as the gradient, up to the finish. It was fitting that Mike Smith, the race leader and KOM going into the final stage, crossed the line first to win this year’s event and help Team Corley Cycles to the team title.
Stage 1 had seen a successful relocation of the prologue time trial to the A48 out to Caerwent, albeit without a hill finish, after the Council had resurfaced the Llangybi/Llanhennock course only the day before. Clive Nicholls (High Wycombe CC) found himself in the race leader’s jersey after a good ride in the prologue.
A newly gritted road was again a problem on Stage 2 and kept neutral surface busy with riders puncturing. After a few unsuccessful forays off the front, two riders broke away on the third of the six laps over the undulating nine mile circuit that is used for the Noel Jones Memorial Road Race.
The break established a lead that hovered around 1 minute 15 seconds before being brought down rapidly on the flat run-in to the finish. Basil Moss (Cambridge CC) took the win ahead of his breakaway partner Colum O’Shea (Team Isle of Man) with James Lewis (Cwmcarn Paragon RT) clipping off the front of the peloton to take third.
Day 3 saw the riders return to the Brecon area for a full day’s racing, with the team time trial in the morning and a hilly road race taking in the brutal Defynnog climb, in the afternoon. Team Isle of Man again demonstrated their team time trialling ability on the gently rolling 12.4 mile out and back course and had Colum O’Shea in the race leader’s jersey for the start of the afternoon stage.
This was over three laps of a 17 mile circuit and a short-lived break of eight riders was away before the race had even reached the main circuit, followed by another that gained 42 seconds but was caught the first time up the Defynnog climb. The peloton then split on the climb before regrouping on the run-in to Brecon.
By the start of the second lap, a decisive break of twelve riders had gained 27 seconds with the gap rapidly increasing to 3.27 by the second time up the climb and reaching 4.30 on the third lap, at the expense of three riders who were dropped from the break.
Up the drag to the finish, three riders attacked off the front of the break but were chased and passed by stage winner Mike Smith (Team Corley Cycles) and second-placed Ben Simmons (Wiggle Ltd).
Stage 5 took the riders over another hilly circuit from Usk to Chepstow and back via Raglan and Abergavenny. The road to Chepstow wreaked havoc in the peloton splitting it into several groups. At the front of the race, a group of eight riders eventually distanced themselves from the others and the gap slowly increased to 2 minutes. Local rider Tim Rose (Abergavenny RC) won the sprint for the line ahead of the yellow jersey’s teammate, Jake Hales (Team Corley Cycles).
Of the original 101 riders who started the stage race, 83 were at the start of the final stage in Abergavenny. They seemed happy to stay as one as they returned along the narrow lanes to Brecon and retraced the team time trial course but, eventually, a small break escaped. While the gap never reached much more than 30 seconds, once on the climb of Llangynidr Mountain, the peloton began to string out, with riders trying to gain shelter from the wind up against the hedges on the lower slopes.
At the finish, it was the yellow jersey of the race leader Mike Smith (Team Corley Cycles) ahead of the purple jersey of the KOM jersey wearer (actually 2nd in the competition) Matthew Pilkington (Sprackled) who took the day’s honours.
Stage win for Mike Smith before donning the yellow leader's jersey. Photo: Roy Bevis.
Performance of a lifetime for race winner Mike Smith and his team
For race winner Mike Smith, the victory was the performance of a lifetime but it wasn’t only Mike’s overall win that caught the eye, he also brought home the jersey for the King of the Mountains whilst team-mate Jack Waller, at just 17 years old, the youngest of the four-man Team Corley – Cervelo squad, won the Junior competition.
And to crown the achievements of the Corley Cycles outfit, they also brought home the team prize beating their nearest placed rivals, which included the locally based Virgin Active and Beds Road CC teams, by over 9 minutes. A real tour de force for the Stacey Bushes based crew!
Talking to Gordon Wiseman, the 21 year old race winner explained how the longest stage of the race – nearly 60 miles – panned out “That was the stage that really decided the outcome of the race. A group of nearly a dozen riders broke away. We were really flying, picking up a 3 1/2 minute lead in approximately 10 miles. I won the sprint at the finish by which point we had a nearly five minute lead on the next group”.
Not only did Mike pick up the leader’s jersey at the stage finish, which he wasn’t to relinquish from that point on, but such was the nature of the terrain and Mike’s dominance, that he also picked up the King of the Mountains jersey as well. But having taken the leader’s jersey at the end of stage 4, it wasn’t all plain sailing from then on as Smith came under constant attack from his nearest rivals and early into the final stage, it looked like the winner’s jersey may just slip off his back so close to the finish.
“It’s a good job I had my team with me” he explained, “they were superb”. Simon Henley, at 26 the ‘old man’ of the team, went with the early attacks but stayed on the wheels of his breakaway companions playing the role of supporting team-mate to perfection. “Simon did exactly what he had to do. Meanwhile, Jake and Jack went back into team time trial mode for the last 10km to nearly drag me back to the break by the time we got to the bottom of the final climb".
As the race hit the foot of that climb, the conditions turned for the worse with a high wind and heavy rain. “That was horrible” grimaced Smith recalling those final kilometres. “The race really exploded at that point. About a quarter of the way up the climb, we caught the break. I then followed wheels but took a jump with about 500 metres to the chequered flag where I took my second win of the race and the race title overall!”
“But if it hadn’t been for my team-mates, I wouldn’t have been able to finish off what we’d started so I really owe everything to them”.
At this rate, Smith won’t be eligible for the RAS in 2011 as the British Cycling ranking points he won over the weekend will have made a terrific dent in the number he requires to move up to a 1st category license by the end of this year, one of the goals he set himself early on in the season. This is the first year that Team Corley Cycles – Cervelo have run a youth development squad, so how does team manager Dick Hooper see the result from the Welsh RAS?
“It totally justifies what we set out to achieve” he said. “This set-up gives other local younger riders something to aim for and shows them that we can provide the support they need to progress as riders”.
Welsh Cycling thank Newport and South East Wales Tourism, the University of Wales, Newport, WNEG, all the officials, marshals and helpers and, of course, race organiser Chris Landon, without all of whom the event could not have gone ahead.
1. Mike Smith Team Corley Cycles 9:27:12
2. Basil Moss Cambridge CC @ 1:01
3. James Cartridge Team Isle of Man A @1:08
4. Tavis Walker Moonglu RT @1:14
5. Marcus Brueton Norwood Paragon @2:15
6. Tim Carter Virgin Active @2:31
7. Ben Simmons Wiggle Ltd @2:48
8. Adam Cairns Chevin Bang & Olufsen RRT 2 @4:29
9. Matthew Pilkington Sprackled 3 @4:53
10. Jake Hales Team Corley Cycles @5:08
11. Mike Auger VC Norwich @5:13
12. Richard Harris Cwmcarn Paragon RC @6:00
13. Colum O'Shea Team Isle of Man A @6:28
14. Murdo Jamieson Ystwyth CC @6:30
15. Luke Wallis Kingston Wheelers @6:36
16. Gruffudd Lewis Ystwyth CC @6:41
17. Jamie Caldwell St Ives CC @6:48
18. Tim Rose Abergavenny RC @6:53
19. Ryan Bevis Bad Ass Bikes - Kenda @7:06
20. Matthew Theobolds Sprackled @7:34
1. Mike Smith
2. Matthew Pilkington (Sprackled)
3. Tavis Walker (Moonglu RT)
1. Colum O’Shea (Team Isle of Man)
2. John Russell (Bad-Tri/Fred Baker Cycles
3. Tavis Walker
1. Team Corley Cycles
2. Ystwyth CC
3. Bad Ass Bikes – Kenda)
For full results see http://www.cadencecycleracing.co.uk