Location: Cranfield, Bedfordshire
Event: 22 June 2013
Report and Photos: Gordon Wiseman
The ever-strong Cranfield wind again played a major part in the proceedings in Saturday’s 50-mile Virgin Active Road Race, but it was Reading 19-year-old Ben Sumner (Beeline Bicycles RT) who picked up the race win after putting in one of the most active rides of the day.
Based on the short “tricky triangle” circuit that runs alongside the local airfield, the strong wind blew the riders up the testing climb before blowing the field apart on the exposed roads where riders can normally take a breath – and the wind was key to breaking the 70-strong field into small groups from the very early stages of the 22-lap race.
In the opening laps there were efforts to force the pace and Sumner showed his face at the front of the race from the early stages, including taking the first King of the Mountains points on lap four.
But on lap six the first real significant move of the day pulled away as around six riders – including Sumner – broke away at the top of the climb. Their move was assisted by a crash at the bottom of the circuit on the next lap that saw one rider being taken away by ambulance with a suspected broken collar bone.
Sumner continued to attack and he was joined by Jamie Scott (MG-Maxifuel) – fresh from his exploits racing in the Tour Series – with that pairing then dangling off the front of the race for a number of laps before they were pulled back into the chasing group.
The race had now completely blown apart with small groups scattered over the circuit and some riders being lapped. Up at the front the leaders were now nearly a dozen strong with Sumner still there, but many saw the danger man as Simon Gaywood (Team Corley Cycles) who was making his racing debut for the year.
With just five laps to the finish the leading riders were joined by the chasing pack of around 20 other competitors to form the main peloton left in the race, but even then that larger grouping kept splintering and reforming until the final lap when Sumner – who’d been hiding in the bunch to recover from his earlier efforts – broke away with AW Cycles Ken Buckley.
“To be quite honest, after being away for around 40 or 50 minutes I spent a few laps tucked in the bunch, just chilling, trying to recover,” explained a breathless Sumner just minutes after crossing the finishing line, arms aloft in victory.
“As we started the final lap two of us were away and I thought I’d tuck in behind the other guy [Ken Buckley] as he’s much bigger than me. I worked a little bit but I knew that if he pulled me along for a bit on the flats where he was stronger I’d have a chance as I was hoping he wouldn’t be able to stick with me on the hill where we were being push along by the tailwind.
“I caned it last time up the hill because I knew if it came down to a sprint he’d beat me so I had to give it everything I could. I’ve been injured for a good part of the season and have mainly been doing crits trying to build up my speed. I recently won a crit at Hog Hill but this is my first proper road win this year so I’m really happy. I’m hoping to get my 1st cat license this year so this win will really help towards that.”
1 Ben Sumner (Beeline Bicycles RT)
2 Ken Buckley (AW Cycles)
3 Jozef Metelka (Beeline Bicycles RT)
4 Ben Homa (Beeline Bicycles RT)
5 Luke Souter (Banbury Star CC)
6 Jez Honour (www.twenty3c.co.uk)
7 Lubomir Belak (St Ives CC)
8 Gray Turnock (Finsbury Park CC)
9 Andy Marriott (Spirit Racing)
10 Lee Desborough (St Ives CC)
King of the Mountains: Chris Palfreeman (45 Road Club)
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