The traditional post Christmas race saw a hardy bunch of riders brave the mild temperatures to burn off some of their festive calories. The course at Southampton Sports centre was the same as the national trophy race a few weeks ago, and the ground was firm under wheel with very little wind.
The morning started with the youth riders with Harvey Lowe and Dan Tullett from Hargroves Cycles and Robbie Bolwell (Wight Mountain) on the front of the grid with leading girl Bethany Taylor (BCDS) and Emily Wadsworth (Beeline Cycles) closing out the front row.
The start saw Dan pull away from Harvey with Robbie a little way back. Next to start well was Jack Saunders (SRC) and Jack Phillips (Banjo Cycles). The girl’s race was lead by Emily Wadsworth (Beeline Cycles) followed by Bethany and Zoe Sheehan (SRC). Within a couple of laps Harvey was a handful of seconds behind Dan, Robbie was already over a minute down on the leaders with Jack Saunders at 1min 50 seconds back. Emily was first girl 2 minutes 30 seconds behind the leader but 30 seconds up on Bethany who had Zoe for close comfort.
By mid race Dan had extended his lead over Harvey to 30secs with Robbie now over 2 minutes down. The two Jack’s were next and Tom Sewell was now up into the top six. The girl’s race was still lead by Emily with Beth second and Zoe still third. At the end Ben was a clear winner over Harvey by 1 minutes 42 seconds, Robbie was now a distant third at nearly 5 minutes and Jack Saunders finished off the top five over 8 minutes down.
1st Dan Tullett Hargroves Cycles 28mins 27secs
2nd Harvey Lowe Hargroves Cycles @1min 42secs
3rd Robbie Bolwell Wight Mountain @4min 58secs
4th Jack Saunders Swindon RC @8min 12secs
1st Girl Emily Wadsworth Beeline Cycles
The next race was the under 12s and this was won convincingly by Ben Tullett who lapped most of the other riders on his way to a comfortable win. Second was Liam (SRC) Sewell and Erin Baker (Southdown Velo) third, first girl was Alderney Baker (Southdown Velo).
1st Ben Tullett Vicious Velo
2nd Liam Sewell Swindon RC
3rd Erin Baker Southdown Velo
4th Ieuan Woods Charlotteville CC
5th Alderney Baker Southdown Velo and 1st Girl
The next race was the combined Vet/Women/Junior race, this race had some very good riders all competing for points towards places as the league reaches the sharp end of the season.
First rider to show at the front was junior rider Matt Hargroves (Hargroves Cycles) closely followed by team mate Matt Woods with Mike Groves (Stevens UK) the first vet. The top places were filled out by Dave McMullen (Team GWR), David Phillips (SRC) and Sean Williams (Wight Mountain). The first women was Joanne McRae (Look Mum No Hands) with Claire Smith (SRC) second and Hazel Jowett third. League challenger Sarah Woods was left on the start line when her rear wheel moved in the frame forcing her off the bike to fix it and then running last rider in the race. She soon made it around to the pits and set about catching the other women who were now well away.
Once the race settled down both Matt Hargroves and Matt Woods were together with Sea Williams now 9secs behind and 5secs clear of Mike Groves. The next three riders David Phillips (SRC), Malcolm Cross (Hargroves Cycles) and Will Girvan (NHRC) were now just short of a minute down riding line a stern of each other.
The first rider to have trouble was Mike Groves who broke his rear mech as he entered the wooded section and was forced to shoulder his bike the rest of the lap until he could get to the pits for a change of bike. Once out of the pits Mike had to chase hard to get back to the leading vet group.
With a lap to go Matt Hargroves was 1 minutes 8 seconds clear of Matt Woods, the next rider was Mike Groves who had managed to catch the leading group of vets and then got past Sean and had pulled out a 10sec lead with Dave McMullen 20 seconds behind him.
The last lap saw Mike Groves puncture while in a leading position over Sean, but with the tyre running flat Sean got by to take the spoils in the vet race behind the two younger Hargroves riders. The ride of the race must go to Sarah Woods who came from last place to claim third women behind Joanne and Claire.
1st Matt Hargroves Hargroves Cycles 43mins 37secs
2nd Matt Woods Hargroves Cycles @1min.08secs
3rd Sean Williams Wight Mountain @1min 39secs and 1st Vet
4th Mike Groves Stevens UK @1min 58secs
5th Dave McMullen GWR Team @2min 08secs
1st Joanne McRae Look Mum No Hands
2nd Claire Smith Swindon RC
3rd Sarah Woods Wight Mountain
The senior race only had sixteen riders but all the big riders were there with just a couple of weeks away from the Nationals. The field was headed by Wessex League champion elect Mike Cotty (Wheelbase/Cannondale). Michael had retained his championship in style winning five rounds this season but looked like he was soon in the mood to make it six for the season.
As the race weaved its way around the sports centre Michael was on the front closely followed by Steve James (Hargroves Cycles), Matt Macdonald (Stevens UK) with Stuart Bowers (Hargroves Cycles) next. Over the next couple of laps Michael and Steve pulled away and they had opened a gap of 8 seconds over Matt and 14 seconds over Stuart. Next rider up was James Cotty (Wheelbase/Cannondale) and then last week’s winner Mike Simpson (GS Henley) who was both 20 seconds down.
At third race distance Michael put in a big attack and dropped Steve, who was collected by Matt and Stuart with Mike Simpson trying to get on their wheel, a couple of times it looked like he had done it but each time he caught them he slipped back.
With Michael now clear and building a strong lead, Stuart now dropped Steve who in turn got away from Matt. With a lap to go Michael was nearly two minutes clear of Stuart who in turn was over 30 seconds in front of Steve.
On the finish line it was Michael Cotty who took his sixth race win this season to confirm his championship status with one race still to go. Second was Stuart and Steve James third.
1st Michael Cotty Wheelbase/ Cannondale
2nd Stuart Bowers Hargroves Cycles @1min 41secs
3rd Steve James Hargroves Cycles @2min 24secs
4th Matt Macdonald Stevens UK @2min 45secs
5th Mike Simpson GS Henley @3min 35secs