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Prince takes first road win after hard fought battle
Report: Peak RC Evening Road Race
Event: 28th June 2011
Report: Simon Owens
Just 29 riders lined up for the start on the tough Barlow Triangle circuit on 28th June for the first Peak RC Road Race.
This 2.2 mile Peak District course is renowned for the beating it takes from the wind, high on the moors above Sheffield, and the testing nature of the gradual climb covering two thirds of the course.
At 35 miles, 17 laps, the riders would have to kick out of no fewer than 51 corners. 29 riders meant nowhere to hide, and that proved to be the case very quickly. Just to spice things up, primes at laps four, eight and 12 contributed to a race long points competition. Points at three, two, one each prime (and cash), with points from first to sixth on the finish line would make for a hard fought race as the sun came out and warmed the riders on the start line.
By the third lap, seven riders had already been tailed off by the flurry of early attacks as the bunch strung out through each corner and prepared for the first prime. On the uphill finishing straight it was Sherwood Pines' Bruce Dalton who easily took the sprint from Phil Giles (RVO Racing), but the effort cost him a spoke in his back wheel, effectively ending his chances overall with the rim rubbing badly against the brakes.
Behind them, Steve Bell, Chris Jones, Adam Machan and Jon Cooper had formed a chase group. While they would never regain contact, they battled as a group for the rest of the race, only succumbing and being lapped on the final lap.
The brief lull after the prime was all the encouragement that local evergreen veteran Simon Keeton (Rutland CC) needed, jumping on the climb and quickly taking a 15 second lead. Ploughing alone through the wind, Keeton held on for the second prime, pocketing £10, with Nicholas Jepson (Beeston CC) and Phil Giles again up there for the sprint.
As the bunch eased back, three riders shot out and bridged across to provide Keeton with some much needed company. Veteran Steve Ellis (Out of the Saddle CC), Keeton's team mate, Nicholas Latimer, and cross border visitor Andy Prince (Staffordshire RC) immediately organised themselves and set about trying to establish a lead.
The bunch was having none of it. With the local Sheffrec CC boys missing the move, the pressure was on for them to bring the race back together. Their relentless pace saw the gap see-saw between five and 20 seconds for the next four laps until the final prime at 12 laps.
This time round Nick Latimer took the cash and the points from Steve Ellis, but with Keeton grabbing the last one on offer. No respite though, and with effort etched on their faces the break pressed as hard as they could to hold their lead over the 20 second mark. It looked to be over with three laps left as riders started trying to bridge across.
The attentive bunch snuffed out all counter attacks though as the break forged on, and as bunch finally capitulated at the bell, the four escapees broke the 30 second mark for the first time and guaranteed that they would fight out the tough uphill finish together.
With 1km to go, Steve Ellis finally broke the truce and launched himself down the descent to get a small gap. He was quickly reined back in by Prince and Keeton, but sent Latimer out of the back before they hit the final corner. Trading blows up the 350 metre straight it was Keeton pushing up the outside who looked to be making most progress, but it wasn't his night.
Andy Prince gradually nudged his wheel forward from the middle of the trio and fought all the way to the line to take his first road race victory by just a wheel length from Keeton and Ellis.
Ten seconds later Latimer held on for fourth, and 20 seconds further adrift, Sheffrec CC led in the charge for the rest of the placings, with Alex Mitchell snatching fifth place from team-mate Mike Hutton
Andy Prince's first win marked a return to form following a broken collar bone in 2010, and was just reward for a string of placings in the last couple of years for this hard working and always determined rider. Pocketing £40 and a handful of vouchers from race sponsor and local bike shop La Bicicleta, Prince also went home with the coveted ‘Peak RC Winner's Mug', a unique design from local ceramics specialist "Iownajem".
With second place, Simon Keeton stitched up a clear win in the points competition to pocket £20 and more La Bicicleta vouchers, as well as the £30 for second and the £10 prime...not a bad night!
With fourth place, Nick Latimer secured the combined prize for the riders competing in Peak RCs other promotion, the tough Circuit of Longstone Edge Hilly TT 2 weeks earlier.
Thanks to all the members and friends of Peak RC for their time on the night, and to Sheffrec CC, Rutland CC, Marc Etches, Dan Lowthorpe, Pete Dungworth and the North Mids Road Race League for providing help and kit for us to use on the night.
Thanks to race sponsors La Bicicleta, www.labicicleta.co.uk, and ionajem, www.iownajem.co.uk, and to the management and staff of the Fox and Goose Inn at Wigley for the generous use of their facilities and hospitality, www.thefoxandgooseinn.com.