Raleigh GAC's Russell Hampton and Node4 Giordana's Lucy Garner were victors at the 2012 Hillingdon GP. However the meeting was marred by a horrific crash in the category 3/4 event, which took out 10 riders and caused the Elite Men's race to be cut short.
Hillingdon Women's GP
Above images by Ed Rollason. More images from Maurice Joyce here.
Lucy Garner won the 2012 edition of the Hillingdon Women's Grand Prix after sprinting away from a group of six who had led the race for much of the 40 laps.
With the initial pace of the race high enough to keep the bunch mostly together, the Junior Road World Champion attacked repeatedly but was always chased down; the distinctive coloured bands of the world championship jersey acting like a magnet for the bunch.
However, with a third of the race gone a strong escape group formed. Initially Louise Mahe (Mulebar Girl) and Amy Roberts (Scott Contessa Epic) got clear, but were chased down by Nicola Juniper (Eagle RC), and the group soon swelled to six with Adel Tyson-Bloor (VC St Raphael/Hewitt Cycles), Garner and Elinor Barker (Scott Contessa Epic) also bridging the gap.
Working well together the six riders quickly extended their lead to over a minute as the bunch looked at one another, no-one willing to take on the responsibility for chasing. The bunch slowed to such as extent that at one point the commisaires were fearful of the six leaders taking a lap.
However, their situation finally dawned on them and attacks began to lift the pace of the main bunch. Hannah Barnes (Ibis Cycles) was forced to pull out with five laps to go, still feeling the effects of the collar bone break that brought her back from racing in Europe.
As the leading riders entered the final lap, a game of cat and mouse began. Several riders went early on the finishing straight but it was not be as the explosive power of the World Champion took her past her breakaway companions and onto the top step of the podium.
British Cycling spoke to Lucy Garner after her win.
"The plan was to sit in for the first half of the race and and then go for it in the second. But every time I attacked the bunch just seemed to come back together. Then 3 riders got away and me and Elinor managed to get across to them. Once we were there we worked really well together"
Top 3 Riders:
1st Lucy Garner (Node 4 Giordana Womens Race Team)
2nd Elinor Barker (Scott Contessa Epic)
3rd Louise Mahe (Mulebar Girl)
Hillingdon Men's GP
In the men's race a strong turnout from Team Raleigh GAC with eight riders made them the favourites for the win. The record length event was cut short and the start delayed following a horrific crash in the preceding Cat 3/4 event; racing was delayed while an ambulance attended the scene.
On the wide and rolling circuit the pace was very high and despite some early attacks gaining small advantages no proper break was able to get away. Team Raleigh was very active in controlling the bunch and marshalling any attack that attempted to get away.
With about 15 laps gone six riders gained 25 seconds. There was strong representation from Raleigh and Cycle Premier, the race's two strongest teams. Without an organised chase from the bunch, the group was able to extend its lead to 40 seconds. Jamie Sparling attempted to bridge across but the bunch was still rolling along and he was eventually forced to fall back.
With five laps to go the gap was up over a minute and the bunch had largely given up in the face of the well disciplined escapees. As the laps counted down the six became four as Allan Ridler (Pedal Heaven RT) mounted an attack.
The four contested a long sprint with Russell Hampton (Team Raleigh GAC) taking the win from Blair Windsor (Cycle Premier) and Allan Ridler, finally having to settle for third.
British Cycling caught up with Russell after he came off the podium:
"I'm not a fan of the circuit, not been here for years, because it's always so nervy in the bunch. I have really big goals in a couple of weeks and I wanted top keep out of trouble so the break was ideal. We kept a really good tempo and made a great race out it."
1st Russell Hampton (Team Raleigh GAC)
2nd Blair Windsor (Cycle Premier)
3rd Allan Ridler (Pedal Heaven RT)
Category 3/4 Event
One of the warm-up races before the big elite finale, the Category 3/4 race was well attended with over 50 riders taking the start line. With little or no wind to break the bunch up it was an uneventful race with only a few breaks making any impression as the bunch rolled round. With five laps to go a break of three managed to go away up the road. Although several chase groups formed, attempted to bridge over, and where swallowed up again the main bunch failed to organise an effective chase.
With the lead stretched out to 35 seconds the three leaders were safe to fight it out between themselves. Peter Cole (Hand Sling) sprinting away to take the win from James Walker (High Wycombe CC) in second and Gerald Moser (Rapha Condor) in third. Two other escapees made up the top 5 with Nick Yarwood (Echelon Rotor) and Sean Taylow (Rollapuluzza) in fourth and fifth.
As the bunch wound itself up for a sprint for the minor placings there was a touch of wheels, or bars or shoulders, no-one was really sure, and, to the horror of the watching spectators, 10 riders went down in the middle of the group. It was a hard smash and left several riders on the ground, one with serious facial injuries. Although one required the attentions of an ambulance none were seriously injured.
British Cycling would like to thank the organising team, officials and everyone else who helped promote this event. Our sport could not exist without the hundreds of people, many of them unpaid volunteers, who put in many hours of hard work running events, activities and clubs.