Claire Galloway (Breast Cancer Care) took the overall win today at the Three Days of Bedford women’s race by a mere two seconds from Amy Hill in the latest round of the Women’s Team Series.
But it could have easily slipped from her grasp on the penultimate lap of the weekend when a slipped chain on the long Millbrook climb saw the 25-year-old from Cambridge get left behind on the road.
Her team worked tirelessly to get Galloway back to the head of the race in time for the bunch gallop which was won by Scott Contessa's Emily Kay who just held off Hannah Walker (Team Matrix) and Amy Hill.
Heavy rain and gale force winds greeted the riders on day one of the race making the 55-kilometre Great Barford circuit almost unrideable at times.
Multiple crashes, broken bikes and abandoned riders was the order of the day, but Hannah Barnes took the stage from a group sprint after crashing early in the race. However, she managed to work her way back to the bunch after losing team mate Rohan Battison in a heavy fall.
Controversy followed after officials deemed the win was helped by riders taking a draft from a car in the convoy and the rider was given a time penalty which saw the MG-Maxifuel rider hand over the yellow jersey back.
A short Team Time Trial opened up day two, 10 kilometres of a flat twisty circuit from Ravensden to Keysoe saw Breast Cancer Care post the best time of 9:14, six seconds to the good of Matrix Fitness and eleven seconds to Scott Contessa.
Amy Hill took the victory in the 80-kilometre Keysoe road race, four laps of a relatively flat course saw the bunch split on the early laps, the previous stages starting to tell on a few legs.
A break by Hannah Barnes and Eileen Roe lasted around 20 kilometres but the bunch wasn't going to allow the attack to last the course and was gradually reeled back in.
A break of ten went away on the third lap and with no obvious threat in the group the bunch allowed it to go away and it stayed away to the line, Amy Hill attacking on the short climb to the line and taking the victory by one second from Zappi's Anna Reid, Alexie Shaw(Les Filles RT) took a well-deserved third.
Day three saw the race head out to Milbrook testing ground,home of James Bond car chases and Top Gear testing - and two stages of the Bedford tour.
An individual time trial stretched the legs on stage four, two laps of the four-kilometre speed bowl saw Claire Galloway post the quickest time of 9:17 and take the overall lead of the tour, while Emma Grant (Matrix Fitness) was second quickest at two seconds and Hannah Barnes third fastest, four seconds back.
Stage five could really have been anywhere in Europe - blazing sunshine, thick forests, steep climbs and fast descents and it was all to play for to take the overall.
Galloway wearing yellow, Amy Hill, who knows how to win important races and Scott's Amy Gornall split by nine seconds and the nature of the testing circuit the result could go any way.
A fast opening lap saw the race split, a group of 20 shot out of the back on the first climb, Galloway sitting right on the back of the bunch but looking comfortable.
As the early laps progressed the struggling riders started to abandon, but a small chase group were hovering around two minutes. With the race some 40 minutes old around a third of the field were finding the going tough and were getting shelled out of the back.
Hannah Barnes was still determined to make good the stage one decision and went on the attack with Louise Mahe (Mule bar), the two girls working well together putting a useful ten seconds to the fast chasing bunch and getting almost 20 seconds to the good of the bunch.
But Barnes put the hammer down on the long climb and Mahe couldn't stay with the pace and cut her losses and waited for the main bunch. Barnes continued on her lone break but it was a long attack to keep to the finish.
Hannah Walker jumped off the front and tried to get the gap across but Barnes was on a do-or-die mission and increased the lead to almost 30 seconds. But the lone lead was too much and with three laps to go the bunch was back together now with the yellow jersey sitting towards the front.
The race was now under the control of the Breast Cancer Care team but on the penultimate lap the race leader slipped her chain at the top of the climb and by her own admission she could see her race disappearing down the road.
But the team rode hard and got Galloway back to the group for the weekend to come down to one final sprint won by Emily Kay and with Galloway sitting safely in the bunch the overall was safe.
What they said
Overall race winner Claire Galloway said: “My chain came off right at the top of the climb on the second to last lap, but thankfully my team mates were there to help me get it back on and helped chase me back on to the group again. I panicked a bit, but I knew with their help – especially Molly Weaver – we would get back on.
“The team plan was to stop anything going away and hang on to the yellow jersey. Ciara Horne did manage to get away at one point but unfortunately had a mechanical, so it was a bit of an eventful race for the team.
“In the time trial we knew which riders we had to look out for and who was in contention for the yellow jersey, so it’s a great result for the team.”
1 Claire Galloway (Breast Cancer Care) 6:08:54
2 Amy Hill (Abergavenny RC) @ 2sec
3 Amy Gornall (Scott Contessa Epic) @ 9sec
4 Molly Weaver (Breast Cancer Care) @ 13sec
5 Mathilde Matthijsse (Bonito Squadra Corse) @ same time
6 Gemma Neill (Bonito Squadra Corse) @ 19sec
7 Alexie Shaw (Les Filles RT) @ 20sec
8 Emily Kay (Scott Contessa Epic) @ 32sec
9 Laura Wasley (Scott Contessa Epic) @ 34sec
10 Anna Reid (Zappi’s Ladies Team) @ 35sec
1 Emily Kay (Scott Contessa Epic) 2:04:14
2 Hannah Walker (Matrix Fitness)
3 Amy Hill (Abergavenny RC)
4 Emma Grant (Matrix Fitness)
5 Karla Boddy (MG Maxifuel)
6 Claire Galloway (Breast Cancer Care)
Stage Four (Individual Time Trial):
1 Claire Galloway (Breast Cancer Care) 9:17
2 Emma Grant (Matrix Fitness) @ 2sec
3 Hannah Barnes (MG Maxifuel) @ 4sec
=4 Laura Massey (Abergavenny RC) @ 7sec
=4 Maryka Sennema (Surrey League) @ 7sec
6 Melissa Brand (MG Maxifuel) @ 11sec
1 Amy Hill (Abergavenny RC) 2:06:06
2 Anna Reid (Zappi’s Ladies Team) @ 1sec
3 Alexie Shaw (Les Filles RT) @ 3sec
4 Maryka Sennema (Surrey League) @ 4sec
5 Gemma Neill (Bonito Squadra Corse) @ 6sec
6 Charline Joiner (MG Maxifuel) @ same time
Stage Two (Team Time Trial):
1 Breast Cancer Care 9:14
2 Matrix Fitness Racing Academy @ 6sec
3 Scott Contessa Epic @ 11sec
1 Emily Kay (Scott Contessa Epic) 1:39:10
2 Hannah Walker (Matrix Fitness)
3 Lydia Boylan (Team CTC)
4 Claire Galloway (Breast Cancer Care)
5 Anna Christian (Scott Contessa Epic)
6 Alice Barnes (Scott Contessa Epic) all @ same time
1 Breast Cancer Care 326 pts
2 Scott Contessa Epic 287
3 Abergavenny RC 233
4 Bonito Squadra Corse 172
5 Matrix Fitness 136
6 Zappi’s Ladies Team 112
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