Location: Ugley, Essex
Event: 11-12 August 2012
Report: Andy Whitehouse
For Viored RT's Sarah Storey claimed overall victory in the Essex Giro 2-Day Stage race and, with it, the National Women’s Series.
Already holding a 44-point series advantage over closest rival Rebbeca Heath (VC St Raphael), Storey all but made sure of the series title on the opening day in Essex by winning the morning’s eight-mile Henham time trial in 20-26 with team-mate Claire Galloway 34 seconds down in second and third-placed Tamina Oliver (Abergavenny RC) a further six seconds back.
Storey and Oliver then dominated the afternoon's road race over eight laps of the short, sharp five-mile Wendens Ambo circuit, dictating affairs from the second lap to finish well clear of the rest.
The opening lap saw the bunch roll round the narrow circuit together, riding well to avoid the numerous farm vehicles that were working on the course. By all accounts, one such vehicle played into the hands of Storey and Oliver on the second lap, allowing the pair to open a small gap on the field which they built to just over 30 seconds by the end of the lap and which wouldn't be brought back for the remainder of the race.
Jo McRae (Look Mum No Hands) jumped off the front of the chasing bunch on the following lap along with Esther Olthuis (Team Ibis Cycles) and, working well together, they soon had just over a minute on the main bunch who didn't seem too interested in the escapees.
Storey and Oliver were also riding well together at the head of the race and by midway were almost a minute to the good over the chasing pair, who in turn were still a minute up on the bunch.
Olthuis proved to be the stronger of the two chasers and managed to get a small gap on McRae on the fifth lap which increased for the remainder of the race.
The heat was a problem for a lot of the field and with no real feed stations, the Chapel Green Lane climb to the finish line saw riders going off the back of the field consistently so that with two laps to go, the race officials pulled out the backmarkers for the day.
Storey and Oliver were some two minutes ahead at the bell and rode to the line together with series leader Storey rolling in a wheel ahead. Olthius was an isolated third and, with McRae caught by the bunch on the last lap, High Wycombe CC’s Karla Boddy took fourth place.
It put Storey in a commanding position going into the final 73-mile stage on Sunday and with the For Viored and Ibis squads taking firm control, it ended in a bunch sprint which, won by Hannah Barnes (Team Ibis Cycles), meant no change in the final standings.
Aafke Eshuis (Team Ibis Cycles) opened up a lead of 15 seconds on the first of the six and three-quarter laps and, after being caught on the second lap, went away again on the penultimate lap to go through Rickling Green 50 seconds up.
But the bunch was back together at the bell with Storey at the front, and it stayed that way for Barnes to take her second win of a season interrupted by a broken collarbone ahead of the overall winner and Martina Thomasson (Team Ibis Cycles).
Hannah Barnes (stage 2 winner): "The race was good today, We (Team Ibis) knew Tamina wanted to hold on to 2nd overall so we talked to Sarah Storey and worked to get Esther (Olthuis) off the front then we would sit up and not do any work. The Dutch girls on the team found the race a bit slow going, they're use to just flying up the road. Aafke (Eshuis) got a decent gap early on but it was bought back. Someone attacked the bunch on the steep climb about 1km from the finish but it there was a lull so I just thought I'd have a go. It's only my second win this year."
Tamina Oliver (2nd overall race and 3rd in the series): "The race today was interesting for me: it's probably the most tactical race I've ever been in. I had the two strongest teams today working to ride me out of the race and take my second place. Everytime there was a break I had to go with it, then that came back and they'd attack again so it was hard work out there because I had to try and cover everything that went but they rode really well, and there was no way I could out-ride them but on reflection I'm happy with the way the race went. I stayed with them and managed to get fifth in the sprint and yesterday went well in the time trial because I don't ride time trial but the weekend went pretty well I'd say.
Sarah Storey (Overall race and series winner): I'm absolutely delighted with the weekend. The girls put on a great race today and we had a really good battle on the road and I came out top. I thought Abergavenny would go out to take the win today but seemed content with second, Team Ibis were getting frustrated in the race and they came up to me to ask about working together and having such a strong ally as team Ibis in the race seemed to be the best way for me. I had wrapped the series up yesterday so I had nothing to lose by working with them, it was good for me to spin my legs and they obviously wanted to climb up GC. I did try to break the race up on a few occasions but it all came back together and we ended up with a bunch sprint.
This weekend has been good for me to keep the legs spinning. I've been pretty consistent all year so there hasn't really been a peak in my fitness, as a road rider you have to keep that consistency all year, I think its gives you a lot of confidence when you race. I've got a time trial in Blenham Palace next weekend and then really that's it till the the holding camp in Newport ready for the games, I'm really excited about them, I've had good results all year so hopefully that will bode well for London.
1 Sarah Storey (For Viored RT) 20-26
2 Claire Galloway (For Viored RT) 21-00
3 Tamina Oliver (Abergavenny RC) 21-06
1 Sarah Storey 1-48-29
2 Tamina Oliver same time
3 Esther Olthius (Team Ibis Cycles) at 1-56
4 Karla Boddy (High Wycombe CC) at 7-35
5 Siobhan McNamara (Look Mum No Hands) at 7-36
6 Rebecca Heath (VC St Raphael) at 7-38
7 Penny Rowson (Matrix Fitness-Prendas) at 7-39
8 Laura Massey (Velocity 44 Stirling)
9 Jessie Walker (Matrix Fitness-Prendas RT) both same time
10 Claire Galloway at 7-40
1 Hannah Barnes (Team Ibis Cycles) 3-11-23
2 Sarah Storey
3 Martina Thomasson (Team Ibis Cycles)
4 Karla Boddy
5 Tamina Oliver
6 Penny Rowson (Matrix Fitness-Prendas RT)
7 Aafke Eshuis (Team Ibis Cycles)
8 Gabriella Shaw (For Viored RT)
9 Jessie Walker
10 Karen Poole (Squadra Donne) all same time
1 Sarah Storey 5-19-58
2 Tamina Oliver at 48 sec
3 Esther Olthius at 2-57
4 Claire Galloway at 8-34
5 Hannah Barnes at 9-30
6 Laura Massey at 9-47
7 Aafke Eshuis at 9-54
8 Rebecca Heath at 10-00
9 Molly Weaver (Scott Contessa Epic) at 10-14
10 Karla Boddy at 10-15
Women’s national Series
1 Sarah Storey
2 Rebecca Heath
3 Tamina Oliver
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.