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Hampton Solos to Victory in Essex Mid-Summer RR
Saffron Walden, Essex, 95 miles
Event: 17th July 2011
Report: Snowdon Sports
Photographs: Lisa Flanagan
RUSSELL Hampton (Sigma Sport-Specialized) soloed to victory in the Essex Mid-Summer Road Race at Saffron Walden, Essex, on Sunday.
Hampton, 23 and from Pitsea, crossed the line 1-22 ahead of the chasers at the end of the 95-mile race, which also incorporated the Eastern Counties CA Senior Championship and was the inaugural event organized by PCH UK Racing Team.
Russell Hampton celebrates his solo victory in the Essex Mid-Summer Road Race.
A full field of 70 rides lined up at the start of the 120- kilometre race, and they'd hardly left the neutralized zone before Szlachta Wojciech (Pasta Montegrappa) put in the first attack of the day.
He stayed away for most of the opening lap and although briefly joined by another rider, before half of the second tour had been completed they'd been hauled in by a group of six riders from which Hampton emerged with Wojciech's Pasta Montegrappa team-mate Dave Mclean.
These two joined together to form a partnership that equally shared the workload to keep themselves clear of the ever reforming chasing bunch and, until just over 20 kilometres to go, their lead stretched out to around 1-15 but was never pulled in to less than 35 seconds.
The bunch chase down the leading riders.
As they crested the climb to the finishing line with two laps to go, a group of nine riders finally hauled them in but Hampton wasn't finished even though he'd been at the front of the race for so long.
Descending at over 65kph, the larger leading group then started another drag up to a set of crossroads and here Hampton made his move.
"The climb to the finishing line, into a head wind, was hard but I found the drag up to and over the crossroads to be the hardest part of the circuit," Hampton explained later. "I was on the little ring and even though they'd just pulled me back, I decided the attack."
Moving to the back of the circuit - "I found I was constantly hitting 50kph as I switched to time trial mode" - Hampton soon opened a lead that was to stretch to 1-22 by the time he finally crossed the finishing line but behind him the action was far from done and dusted.
The evergreen Roy Chamberlain (Team Corley Cycles) linked with Andrew Griffiths (Twenty 3C-Orbea) as this pair then slipped the clutches of the rest of the race (pictured above) and they looked to have the rest of the podium places stitched up between them.
"We were just amazed at how powerful Hampton was," Chamberlain said back at the race HQ. "Griffiths is the current U23 national time trial champion and together we thought we'd be able to pull him back in but we just couldn't do it."
As these two turned left onto the final climb of the day they in turn were pulled back by a chasing quartet that included Dave Mclean who had used the kilometres since he'd lost the lead with Hampton to sit in and recover to prepare for the final sprint.
In describing that sprint for the eventual second place, Mclean said: "This was my first race for six weeks since breaking my collarbone so I was delighted just to be in a position to go for a placing. I didn't worry about how my legs felt, we were all as tired as each other, so I just put my head down and went for it."
But the man with the biggest smile on his face as he later thought about his race was Russell Hampton after his gold star performance.
"I'd never raced on this circuit so didn't know what to expect," he said. "I was on my own so decided I'd just go for it from the gun. I haven't done much racing lately, mainly concentrating on time trials. But that's obviously helped and I was able to use the strength I've developed to get this win!"
Steve Griffiths was first of the promoting club's riders home in ninth place overall, just missing out on the ECCA Senior Road Race championship that was run off as part of the PCH UK promotion, being outsprinted by Cambridge CC's Owen Lake.
The battle for eighth place - and the ECCA Championship - was close.
1 Russell Hampton (Sigma Sport-Specialized) 3-15-45
2 David Mclean (Pasta Montegrappa) @1-22
3 Ashley Cox (Team Corley Cycles) @ 1-27
4 Andy Lyons (Twenty 3C-Orbea) @ 1-34
5 Roy Chalmberlain (Team Corley Cycles) @ 1-39
6 Andrew Griffiths (Twenty 3C-Orbea) @ 1-47
7 Wojciech Szlachta (Pasta Montegrappa) @ 1-51
8 Owen Lake (Cambridge CC) @ 2-07
9 Steven Griffiths (PCH UK RT)
10 Jack Kirk (Cyclisme Competition)