For the second time in less than a month, Pembrey Country Park’s closed road circuit was host to another prestigious event: the British Para Cycling Road Race Championships.
The two-day event got off to a fantastic start as riders from across the UK battled it out across the various classifications for the National title – with some individuals also looking to defend their titles.
Amongst these, a number of Paralympic hopefuls looked to make their mark with the Tokyo Paralympic Games just over a year away. It was also a successful day for many Welsh riders who delivered a showcase of talent on home-ground.
With a slight breeze, but very favourable conditions, the Hand cycles race kicked off proceedings. A very competitive and close race which made for an exciting start to the event for spectators. Both Alex Brooker-Turner H4-5 (Dulwich Paragon CC) and Welsh rider Luke Jones H3 were able to defend their National crowns after giving it their all on the circuit.
Within the Mixed H4-5, Brooke-Turner comfortably crossed the line first, with a well-earned jubilant celebration, closely followed by Matthew Faucher (Caerphilly Cycling Club) in second place and Steven Arnold in third. When reflecting on the race, Faucher said: “This closed circuit is the best course I’ve ridden.”
Jones took the honours, by a margin of five seconds, in the Men’s H2-3, saying “it was extra special” to defend his title in Wales – with Dan Hopwood taking the silver medal and Chris Madden taking the bronze.
The second race of the afternoon was the WC1-3, MC2+WC5 and the MC3. This made for a very tactical race. Within the MC3, strategies and game plans were employed by the leading three throughout the hour’s race, which saw the winning position change hands on several occasions between the three riders and from two laps out, they really put their foot on the gas. Finlay Graham clinched the win, with Benjamin Watson (Glossop Kinder Velo CC) in second place and Colin Wallace (Deeside Thistle CC) in third place.
Competition was also very high within the Mixed MC2 and WC5, but eventually Matthew Robertson (Woolwich CC) claimed victory and was able to retain his jersey. Ryan Taylor claimed the silver medal and Morgan Newberry (Sheffield Hallam CC) closely followed in bronze position. Amelia Cass (Loughborough Students CC) left nothing on the circuit and took gold in the two-way battle of the Women’s C1-3, with Polly Hill following closely in silver position.
Commenting on the course, Amelia Cass said: “It’s probably the best closed circuit I’ve ever raced on, it’s so smooth and I really liked the hill because it suited me well”.
After clinching the gold, Cass reflected on the race, saying that: “I was on my own for about half of the race but once I got myself into a nice group we were working really well and I just felt really strong on the day and I’m pleased it all paid off.”
Another hour of racing commenced as the riders took to the circuit for the third race of the afternoon with the MC4-5. After a very exciting and competitive race, SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling’s William Bjergfelt pipped the post within the Men’s C5 and crossed the finishing line first, to claim victory, resulting in him defending his title. David Murphy (Liverpool Mercury (Dolan) CC) could not quite catch Bjergfelt on the home-stretch and took a very close second place, with Karl Allen-Dobson (WyndyMilla) in third. Within the Men’s C4, the riders battled right till the final moment and it was Krispin Gardiner (PDQ Cycle Coaching) who deservedly secured the win. Wayne Harrod of Flatlandria CC, in second, and Nicholas Fairfield of (City RC Hull), in third, also claiming their position on the podium.
The first day of the British Paracycling Road Race Championships came to a conclusion with the B1-2 and T2 race. The circuit was electrified as the tandems powered down the straights, but tactics proved crucial to the final result of the race – every rider gave it their all as they battled for the title of National Champion, making for an excellent finish to an excellent day. Within the B1-2, the final gold medal of the day was handed to Chris McDonald who was piloted by Neil Poulton of (PDQ Cycling Coaching). The silver medal was awarded to Carmarthenshire’s own Simon Thomas, who was racing on home-ground, and was piloted by Matt Blue of (Towy Riders). The bronze medal was claimed by Paralympic pursuit champions Lora Fachie MBE who was piloted by Corrine Hall MBE of (Black Line).
Undoubtedly it was a very successful, and enjoyable, first day of racing for many of the riders at Pembrey Country Park’s Closed Road Circuit – with many of the riders going on to undertake the second part of the championships the following day: the time-trial.
Image credit - SWPix