Location: Cowbridge, Vale of Glamorgan
Event: 20-21 July 2013
Report: Richard Hopkins/Snowdon Sports
Veteran Vincent Thomas (Forza Cycles RT) ended the first day of the Dawnus L’Etape De La Defonce in yellow after an emphatic victory in the 52-mile second leg of the opening day of action based on Cowbridge, in the Vale of Glamorgan.
The Bridgend 41-year-old took a cushion of 55 seconds over team-mate Lewys Hobbs into the second day with a further ten seconds to Anthony Richardson (RAF CC) in third place.
The day began with a 7.5-mile team time trial on an out and back course along the A48 from Cowbridge to Brocastle.
A strict ban on TT-specific equipment kept the field closely bunched, although with a high-speed descent and subsequent climb of Crack Hill, road bikes were probably most suited to the course anyway.
Early starters Nathan Hareward, Jim Ley, Colin Gunn and Ed Francis of Kingston Wheelers led the field for over half the race with a time of 17-20, eventually being knocked off top spot by Ryan Perry, Chris Mattocks and Rob Jones (Army Cycling Union) with 17-07.
High Wycombe CC’s Tom Crouch, Steve James and Philip Wall thundered across the line soon afterwards to record the fastest time of 17-01 which put Crouch in the yellow jersey of overall leader.
Stage 1A took in two 24-mile laps of a course looping round the coast to Southerndown, making wind management a factor especially with a headwind coming off the English Channel on the most exposed sections.
The first prime at 2.2 miles saw Luke Churchus and Simon Cox of Climb on Bikes CC slipping of the front of the bunch with Ley taking third place and the rest of the bunch showing little interest a few seconds behind.
The remainder of the first lap saw some skirmishes, but no major breaks.
The race started to hot up on the second lap and a small crash about a kilometre from the second prime caused confusion with former elite rider Matt Beckett (Cardiff JIF -Cyclopaedia) taking full advantage. Perry and Beckett's team mate Steve Bennett took the remains of a hotly-contested sprint.
The decisive move came at 32 miles in the village of Wick, where some determined attacking into the wind saw six riders - Ley, Hobbs, Thomas, Richardson, Christian Regis (Swansea Wheelers) and Mark Westrup (Strada-Sport) break away.
The break worked to establish a small lead, with Regis taking the final prime before Thomas powered up Crack Hill, splitting the group and maintaining his effort on the strength-sapping 1.5-kilometre rise up the Cowbridge Bypass to the finish to score a decisive win and a healthy advantage going into the final stage, a 44-mile road race heading inland into the Ogmore Valley.
Team Time Trial
1 High Wycombe CC 17-01
2 Army CU 17-07
3 Cardiff JIF 17-16
4 Cwmcarn Paragon RC 17-27
5 Kingston Wheelers 17-28
6 Climb On Bikes CC 17-35
1 Vincent Thomas (Forza Cycles RT) 2-11-18
2 Lewys Hobbs (Forza Cycles RT) at 55 sec
3 Christian Regis (Swansea Wheelers) at 56 sec
4 Anthony Richardson (RAF CC) at 57 sec
5 Jim Ley (Kingston Wheelers) at 1-31
6 Mark Westrup (Strada-Sport) at 1-58
7 Matthew Beckett (Cardiff JIF) at 2-08
8 Andrew Butcher (Cwmcarn Paragon RC) same time
9 Graham South (Paramount CRT) at 2-13
10 Thomas Gillingwater (Strada-Sport) same time
1 Vincent Thomas 2-28-57
2 Lewys Hobbs at 55 sec
3 Anthony Richardson at 1-05
4 Jim Ley at 1-20
5 Matthew Beckett at 1-25
6 Tom Crouch 1-38
1 Christian Regis 13
2 Vincent Thomas 13
3 Matthew Beckett 9
4 Lewys Hobbs 9
1 Forza Cycles RT 6-57-02
2 Royal Air Force CC at 41 sec
3 Cardiff JIF at 46 sec
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