Sunday's Surrey League Road Race was held on a course in North Hampshire just to the south of Basingstoke and the M3.
The morning's 3rd cat race was four laps of the 9.7 mile course of a rolling course with two climbs in it. The first climb was short and shallow but the big climb was three quarters of the lap as the riders entered the village of Farleigh Wallop it was steep but short...ish.
The morning was damp and the course was very slippery under the trees and there was a lot of gravel all over the road which was to cause many of the punctures and the high attrition rate. There were 34 starters and only 12 riders completing the whole four laps.
The first full lap after the short run out to the course proper saw a couple of attacks with first coming from South African rider Werner van der Nerwe (Marathon MTB.com). Werner soon found he was all alone and slipped back towards the bunch but an attack came from the London Dynamo team rider straight away which again was marked by Werner. This time Werner stayed away and the first to react was Richard Prebble (Motorpoint.co.uk) who noticed how strong the leader was and jumped across to give him a hand.
The two leaders now working hard together soon managed to open up a large gap of one minute thirty seconds, a lead they were to maintain till the finish. The bunch tried to attack with just over a lap go and managed to pull the gap back to 30 seconds but Werner and Richard decided to work to stay away and Richard did not try to race him as they approached the finish line as he knew that Werner was by far the stronger of the pair. The two leaders stayed away and the gap to the bunch at the finish was over three minutes.
The afternoon's race for the E12 riders was on the same course, and was contested over seven laps, but was held under totally different conditions. The morning dampness had been replaced by a dry course but it was now very windy.
Towards the end of the first lap and on the big climb the was an attack by the Corley Cycle team and first to show on the climb was Matthew Higgins, followed by team mate Richard Cartland and Chris Spence (Caesarean CC). The bunch were a further 18 seconds with Rob McCarthy (Cycle Kingdom on the front but he was soon to retire with a broken spoke.
On the second lap there were two distinct groups ahead of the bunch but the gaps were too small to record. And on lap three the race all came back together again. The bunch then stayed together for a couple of more laps with several riders attacking but no one making it stick. Then with two laps to go six riders got away and started to build a lead. The riders included four from Corley, Simon Gaywood, Roy Chamberlin, Ian Knight and Matt Higgins, Paul Pickup (Cycle Kingdom) and Colin Parry (Willier/ goselfdrive) and they now had a lead of just over one minute.
By time the race had entered its last lap there had been quite a shakeup on the back of the course as the group that took the bell first were being pulled back. One rider trying to get a problem was Simon Gaywood with a puncture, so could not offer any help to his team mates at the front.
As the five leaders approached the finish line it was Matt Higgins in front but beginning to tire as he started his sprint a little early, he looked back to see he was being chased down by Allan Ridler (Cycle Kingdom) before he managed to find a second wind to sprint again to win by a few meters.
3rd Cat Race
1. Werner van der Nerwe Marathon MTB.com
2. Richard Prebble Motorpoint.co.uk @st
3. Craig Peter VC Meudon @3min 14secs
4. Robert Cranstone Royal Navy and Royal Marine CA @st
5. Steven Richards Cycle Kingdom RT @st
6. Keith Lea Addiscombe CC @st
1. Matthew Higgins Team Corley Cycles
2. Alan Ridler Team Cycle Kingdom
3. Roy Chamberlin Team Corley Cycles
4. Ashley Cox Team Corley Cycles
5. Colin Parry Willier/goselfdrive
6. Paul Pickup Team Cycle Kingdom