Location: Fairthorne Manor, Southampton
Event: 5 January 2014
Report: Graham Robins
Matt Macdonald (Hargroves Cycles) overcame a last lap scare when with over half a lap to go his rear mech let go making him run to the pits for a spare bike. He had nearly a two minute lead when the mechanical happened and won the race by 16 seconds on the line to a hard charging Joe Hickerton.
The final round of the Wessex League was promoted by Fareham Wheelers CC and held in the superb setting of Fairthorne Manor just east of Southampton. The venue is normally used as a teaching venue for children to learn about the country side and is part of the YMCA.
Early morning frost gave way to very slushy parkland and lots of muddy technical wooded sections which cut up throughout the day. In order to use as much of the venue as possible the club even constructed a bridge across the river on the lead up to the race. While heavy rain was forecast along with strong winds we race only had a light shower throughout the day.
At the start of the senior race it was James Cotty (i-ride.co.uk) who was making the early running as the course wound its way around the venue and onto the river crossing before entering the woods for the first time.
A longish lap in soggy conditions soon split the bunch and by the end of the opening lap Macdonald had gained the lead and was clear by nearly 30 seconds. Chasing Matt was Joe Hickerton, Richard Lewis (CC Basingstoke), James Brett (Wightlink Offshore) and Karl Norfolk (Pedalon.co.uk).
Matt was making the best of the conditions and increasing his lead, and by the second lap he was over a minute clear of Hickerton and Cotty with Lewis another 20 seconds back. The remaining laps didn’t see any changes of position but Matt increased his lead to over two minutes.
Then on the bell lap disaster struck the Hargroves rider as on the second climb into the wooded section the rear mech let go forcing him to shoulder the bike to the pits. He now had Hickerton breathing down his neck as his large lead slipped away. Once on the spare bike Matt picked up the speed again and managed to hold on for the win by 16 seconds on the line. Joe Hickerton managed to break away from James Cotty finishing 20 seconds clear.
The combined vet/junior/women’s race was also not without its share of last lap problems as winner Sean Williams (Wightlink Offshore) lost all his front brakes forcing him to finish the race on his spare mountain bike. At the start of the race Sean was the quickest away along with Keith Sheridan (Cotswold Veldrijden), Tim Hyde (GS Henley), Robin Wilmott (Cotswold Veldrijden) and junior rider Joseph Andrews (Fareham Wheelers). Claire Smith (Cotswold Veldrijden) was the leading women on the opening laps.
On the second lap Williams led by 12secs from Sheridan with Tim Hyde, Graham Rogerson (Army CC) and Stuart Pickering (Cyclologic) with all riders fairly close together. It then started to rain and gaps started to appear once the course cut up and William lead increased to 30secs with Sheridan ahead of Rogerson by another 30 seconds.
Wilmott was getting the better of the conditions to get past Pickering. The remainder of the top ten included junior rider Andrews, Hyde and a charging Tim Costello (Southdown Velo) who was picking off places as he climbed into the top places.
At the bell Williams led by 47 seconds from Sheridan with Pickering another minute down but he had Wilmott on his wheel closely followed by Rogerson. Sean had the time to take the spare bike and complete the race even managing to extend his lead over Sheridan. Wilmott got the better of Pickering to take third with Rogerson, Hyde, Andrews and Costello closing out the leader board. Claire Smith won the women’s race with Zoe Sheehan (Cotswold Veldrijden) the first junior girl.
Edward Gronbech (Oxford City RC) continued his good run of form by winning the youth race in a commanding pace as he set off quickly opening up a lead on the first lap of over a minute and a half over Charlie Cooper (Chapel Tri-Stars). Angus Hawkins (PPV) was third and in turn he had a lead of over a minute from Erin Baker (Southdown Velo). The young ladies race was led by Abbie Manley (Chapel Tri-Stars) from Alderney Baker (Southdown Velo) although the gap on the early laps was only a handful of seconds.
While Edward increased his lead at the front the minor places didn’t change just the time gaps increased, and at the finish he won by 2:44 from Cooper. Abbie had a strong last lap and increased her lead over Alderney to 20secs and she finished sixth overall.
There was another large entry from the under twelve’s and they enjoyed splashing around in the mud and they all went hope happy with their ‘goody bags’ vowing to come back again.
1 Matt Macdonald Hargroves Cycles
2 Joe Hickerton Private Member @16secs
3 James Cotty i-ride.co.uk @37secs
4 Richard Lewis CC Basingstoke @1min 52secs
5 James Brett Wightlink Offshore @3mins 08secs
6 Karl Norfolk Pedalon.co.uk @3mins 30secs
1 Sean Williams Wightlink Offshore
2 Keith Sheridan Cotswold Veldrijden @54secs
3 Robin Wilmott Cotswold Veldrijden @1min 50secs
4 Stuart Pickering Cyclologic
5 Graham Rogerson Army CC @2mins 06secs
6 Tim Hyde GS Henley @2mins 42secs
7 Joseph Andrews Fareham Wheelers @3mins 16secs And first junior
8 Tim Costello Southdown Velo @3mins 30secs
9 Gary Barlow Reading CC @3mins 50secs
10 Chris Hutchings VC Venta @4mins 02secs
Claire Smith Cotswold Veldrijden
1 Edward Gronbech Oxford City RC
2 Charlie Cooper Chapel Tri-Stars @2mins 44secs
3 Angus Hawkins PPV @3mins 19secs
4 Erin Baker Southdown Velo @4mins 35secs
5 Ieuan Woods Charlotteville @8mins 34secs
6 Abbie Manley Chapel Tri-Stars @8mins 49secs and first girl
7 Alderney Baker Southdown Velo @9mins 11secs
8 Jay Allen PPV @10mins 20secs
Youth Girls under 14:
1 Abbie Manley Chapel Tri-Stars
2 Alderney Baker Southdown Velo
3 Rachael Thompson PPV
Youth Girls under 16:
1 Rebecca Hurst Poole Wheelers
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British Cycling would like to thank the organising team, officials and everyone else who helped promote this event. Our sport could not exist without the hundreds of people, many of them unpaid volunteers, who put in many hours of hard work running events, activities and clubs.