East Midlands Regional Road Race Championships
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Sunday, May 23rd | by Andy Whitehouse
With temperatures in the high 20's, the undulating heavy roads for the East Midlands Regional Road Race were always going to make the championship event a race of attrition. And so it proved with it being a tough day for all but the fittest with over half the field retiring well before the final lap.
The 135 kilometre, 8 lap race wound a path around the old Binbrook Airfield, a Lancaster base in the war and up until the 1980’s when the RAF pulled out, it was a base for Lightning aeroplanes. The field rolled out at just a little after 10am from the quiet Lincolnshire village of Binbrook and the temperature was already getting the riders reaching for their bidons.
The neutralized first climb out of the village kept the riders together until the official start which took the riders up towards Thorganby by which time Neil Beasley(Beeston RC) had attacked from the front and had pulled out a small gap. The main field though kept the rider in their sights and by the end of the first lap, the group was back together.
With temperatures rapidly rising, riders were beginning to feel the effects of the course and the sun on their backs and by the second pass of Binbrook village, the headquarters car park had begun to empty with riders abandoning. The first serious attempt of the race saw Rob Orr (www.cyclebargins.com) pull 30 seconds on what was left of the bunch and although looking strong, the attack always looked like it would be reeled in.
Controlling things, eventual race winner Dave Clarke (Pendragon) was sitting on the front of the bunch looking to retain his title for the third time and the elite rider looked determined to bring the lone attacker back to the fold.
By the halfway point, Clarke made his own break for freedom taking Rob Sharman (www.bassobikes.co.uk) and Gareth Hewitt (Frezza Pasta Montegrappa) with him. It was an attack which would pretty much decide the race. With the three elite riders working together, they quickly pulled a two minute gap on the peloton over the next two laps with the relentless pace of the chase seeing riders being shelled out the back of the bunch.
Gareth Hewitt driving the break along
By lap six, Jim Bryan (www,zepnat.com) and Gavin Evans (team Sportscover) had worked well to break away from the main group and gained 20 seconds by Binbrook village. They were later joined by Oliver Davies (Dinnington RC) but the gap to the three leaders was proving too much to bridge.
Frezza Pasta's Gunner Gronlund quietly broke away for a lone chase to the two breakaway groups but it was always going to prove a jump too far to the leading three riders. Going into the final lap, Clarke made his final attack and shelled out Sharman and Hewitt who were left to fight it out for silver and bronze.
At the finish, having pulled out a five minute gap on his former breakaway companions, the Pendragon rider had all the time in the world to celebrate his well deserved victory. In the fight for second, Rob Sharman took was too strong for Gareth Hewitt. The second group of Gronlund, Bryan, Evans and Davies fought it out to the line with Gronlund taking fourth behind team mate Hewitt.
Afterwards, Dave Clarke explained :"I didn't realise I had such a big gap otherwise I may have taken things a little bit easier but it was a good day. I think we worked pretty well the first few laps then I went on the climb on the back..They (Sharman and Hewitt) were on the little rings going up so I thought I'm not going to get a better opportunity than this”.
“I was on 53 x 15, so I had a bit of a dig, got 20 seconds and kept my head down and enjoyed the sun. I thought it may have come down to the three of us at the end but I was feeling confident as it was an uphill finish. But, I thought I'd reduce the odds. It would have been good to drop one of them but dropping two of them worked out well in the end. I've won it three times in a row, 2007, 2008 and today. There wasn't a race last year... I wonder if they'll let me keep the trophy."
Andy Whitehouse thanks Gareth Williams (race organiser) for taking him round the course in style with the air conditioning at full blast!
1 Dave Clarke Pendragon 3.01.11 E
2 Rob Sharman www.Bassobikes.co.uk 3.06.30 E
3 Gareth Hewitt Frezza Pasta Montegrappa @st E
4 Gunnar Gronlund Frezza Pasta Montegrappa 3.09.57 E
5 Jim Bryan www.zepnat.com @st 3
6 Gavin Evans Team Sportscover 3.10.00 2
7 Oliver Davies Dinnington RC @st 2
8 Neil Beasley Beeston RC 3.10.10 2
9 Matthew Fostun Langdale Lightweights RT @st 2
10 Duncan Putman Team Nemesis GB 3.10.24 1
11 Daniel Whittaker Private Member 3.10.39 2
12 Julian Gromett Cottingham Coureurs 3.11.14 3
13 Rob Orr www.cyclebargains.com 3.12.13 1
14 Mark Botteley Bourne Wheelers @st 3
15 Gareth Whittall Private Member @st 3
16 Michael Westwell RAF CC 3.12.17 3
17 Paul Fostun Langdale Lightweights RT 3.12.42 2/J
18 Tom Lowe Raleigh Avanti RT @st 2/U23
19 Stuart Pryce Nottingham Clarion 3.12.42 2
20 Gavin Daley VC Lincoln @st 2
21 Stuart Murfin Ashfield Road Club 3.12.51 2
22 Andrew Young www.Bassobikes.co.uk 3.13.10 2
23 Oliver Thistlethwayte Newark Castle CC @1 Lap 4
24 Julian Judge VC Lincoln @1 Lap 3/V
25 Michael Perrin Ashfield Road Club @1 Lap 3/V
26 Tom Neale Inverse Racing / Bikefood @1 Lap 3/J
The second group on the road on lap 7.
Robin Sharman, Dave Clarke and Gareth Hewitt
Bunch racing through Binbrook village