Event: 10 September 2011
Report: Marcus Smith
Pictures: A.G.Thompson and Dave Morton
Richard Meadows (Velo 29) showed a clean pair of wheels to all but elite mountain biker Hamish Batchelor (unattached) to win the second round of the Blackhawkbikes.com Prissick Autumn Cup.
Richard Meadows taking the flowers over Hamish Batchelor and Tom Barras
Gloves were off from the start, with green jersey points leader Will Brown (Fietsen Tempo) and Taylor Cardus (Velo 29), third in the general classification, attacking from the gun, both in the mood for taking no prisoners. The fast, smooth and technically demanding 1km circuit lends itself to the brave spirited aggressive rider: blink twice, sit on the wrong wheel, and you'll soon be in danger of being unceremoniously lapped. And so it was, the tempo was set - the pack of cycling gladiators standing on the start line was, within a matter of seconds, transformed into one long line of seething pain.
Unfortunately for the plucky Cardus, as is often with youthful exuberance, his unbridled aggression was a little too unbridled, and within two laps, the battling duo had been brought to heel, and within another two laps, capitulating Cardus was no longer in a position to be fighting for the win. Dangling precariously at the wrong end of the line of misery, hanging on the wrong wheel, his big legs were of no further help, and he was never again to see the front of the race. Brown was faring better, forging his way into further breaks, picking up more points towards his green jersey and finally finishing in eighth place taking a five point lead in the Points competition.
The class act on a racing bike requires not only physical aggression, but also the tactical nous of a crafty fox. The tempered controlled attacks; the testing probes; the knowing moment when to soft pedal - all are as important as knowing when to ride like a charging bull, and the young Meadows is becoming a Master. The newly crowned National 8 km Grass Track Champion played it canny for the most of the race, keeping a low profile towards the front of the peloton, keeping his precious powder dry, and after a long lasting break containing team mate and TLI National Master 1 Criterium Champion Dan Smith, Sebastian Batchelor (unattached) and the brave battling Brown, was negated, due in main to sterling work by Tom Barras (Cycle Premier), Meadows unleashed a number of playful, probing attacks.
When talented junior rider and yellow jersey wearer Harry Tanfield (Team Wallis Cycles) sped across, it looked like a race winning move, but Meadows was still thinking smart, and, perhaps not fancying his chances against the fast legs of Tanfield, or maybe mindful of the yellow jersey competition, he decided against contributing to the work. Thus the merry jaunt came to nought and the two were soon back in line, but then Meadows immediately attacked again, this time being joined by the ever present Hamish Batchelor.
The two looked at each other, nodded in agreement, and in that moment was formed the unwritten and unspoken contract of hard graft, and the rest was history. Meadows, not known for having any sort of sprint in his heavy tool box of talent, proved the doubting Thomases on the finish line wrong. He came off his man's wheel exiting the final bend, stuck his head down on his handlebars, wrestled the bike to the line, and had at least a bike length to spare to celebrate his well calculated victory.
Barras, travelling up from Yorkshire, made light work in the sprint for the last podium spot, taking the gallop from sprint surprise Smith, who pulled out perhaps his best ever result in a dash for the line, beating the fast legs of Tanfield in the process.
A relieved Tanfield held onto his Yellow Jersey, taking a full five points in the prologue and a further six points in the criterium. Meadows meanwhile, was catapulted right up to second, on the same tally as Brown, and only 16 points adrift.
Alex Clayton (Durham University) once again handed out a 45 minute lecture in bike racing craft. He also threw in a free seminar on humility to the large field of 3rd and 4th category riders. On only the third lap, Clayton was bored with his class, and gave his competitors some time on their own for reflection on last week's lesson. He cleared off up the road, took all three primes, and was never seen again until he was stood aloft the top step of the podium. It was such a confident, cool display of riding that when it looked like the efforts of Bradley Naughton (Stockton Wheelers) would see them join forces after just 10 laps, the crowd assumed that Clayton would ease back and allow the work to be shared. But Clayton had other ideas: he put his head down, stretched out low on the top tube, and put poor Naughton meanly on the rack.
The inexperienced Naughton gamely struggled on, the circuit-lined bloodthirsty spectators willing him on to catch his prey... but it was not enough. Clayton had happily handed Naughton the spade with which to dig his own grave. Within a few laps more, Naughton ground to a halt, spade in hand, and promptly fell into his freshly dug grave - a pitiful sight to behold, but one clearly enjoyed by the crowd, and he received ample applause for his over zealous heroics.
The fight for second place looked like it would be snatched by last week's second placed fast man Martin Hopkinson (Fietsen Tempo). He countered the aggressive move by World Fire Services competitor Richie Burnicle (Blackhawkbiks.com), and was many a man's favourite for the second placed podium. But this was not accounting for the speed and panache of yesteryear's 1998 Divisional Road Champion Rob Adlard (Team Guru). Being conspicuous with his absence all race, Adlard was off the radar, hiding amongst the wheels, sneaking along in the belly of the peloton, but then somewhere along the final lap, he'd slipped the net, put his legs to the task, and cruised to the line only 10 seconds behind Clayton and 10 seconds ahead of a fast finishing Hopkinson. His last lap was so swift and sneaky, that many hadn't realised he'd ambushed the bunch. Indeed, if he'd taken a flyer a lap previous, he may well have been trading his runner's up spot for the flowers on the top step.
At the halfway point in the series, Clayton has a commanding lead from Hopkinson, but with the news that Clayton is now due to move to Southampton to read the improbably entitled Ph.D. ‘Investigating the effects of physical and mental humiliation in bike racing', it's unlikely that he'll consider the 600 mile round trip to defend his jersey a worthwhile trip.
In the Youth races, Alice Grieve (Stockton Wheelers) triumphant in the Youth A Girls category, again showed huge spirit and determination in the A/B/C race, attacking for fun, and stringing out the line of boys in her wake. Lady luck was again riding with her as she took second place in the Super Sweepstake earning herself an easy £7.
Alistair McMaster took victory in the Youth A Boys, and with the absence of last week's winner Will Staveley (Clifton CC), is now joint first overall in his group. Jake Dobson (Newcastle Phoenix) once more took maximum points in the Boys B and has a healthy lead over Ben Honeysett (Cleveland Wheelers).
In the closely fought Boys Under 12 category, Richie Allen (Newcastle Phoenix) leads by a scant one point over Aaron Preston and Toby Tanfield (both Cleveland Wheelers). In the Boys Under 10, Joe Wilson showed his strength again by taking full points in the prologue and the road race and leads Joe Mckenna (unattached) from Patrick Lally (One Life Racing). Lauren Kilcullen leads the way in the Girls Under 10, whilst brother Patrick Kilcullen does likewise in the Boys Under 8 and young Roisin Lally is top of the table in the Girls Under 8 group.
Round three of the Blackhawkbikes.com Prissick Autumn Cup returns on the September 24 with the final round on October 1. There is no meeting on September 17.