Images: Chris Roebuck Rhos on Sea CC
Sunday March 17th saw the second round of the Race to the Sping series hosted by Rhos on Sea CC at Marsh Tracks. The dry but windy day attracted quality fields of riders including a great turn out for the venue's first ladies race of the season.
The day got off to a good start for local clubs with Ieuan Evans (Rhyl CC) and Huw Jones (Dwyfor) the respective U8s and U10s winners. Faye Williams and Nia Barnwell (both CBMDC) battled against the conditions to win the U8s and U10s categories respectively.
With most of the field having raced the previous day at the Cycling Development North West Youth League at Preston, tired legs was to be expected in the U12, 14 and 16 races, however the young riders showed remarkable fitness and determination in difficult conditions.
The race incorporated all three age groups and saw Tom Clarke (Red Rose Olympic) dominating the race by breaking from his U16 rivals and lapping the whole field to win comfortably. Carwyn Morris (Energy Cycles) and Jack Nash (Marsh Tracks Race Team) made the break from the remaining U16 riders and caught the U14 bunch. Morris attacked on the last lap to finish second in what was only his second ever race. The U14 race came down to a bunch sprint into the strong headwind and Sol Kerfoot-Robson (MTRT) crossed the finish line 1st followed by Craig Rogers (BNECC) 2nd and Kieran Morris (MSW) in 3rd place. Nicole Clarke (BNECC) rode strongly and stayed with the bunch to finish first girl and first U14 girl, with newcomer Gwenno Huhges (MTRT) also staying with the bunch to win the U16 girls category. Gareth Evans (Rhyl CC) and Niamh (Albones Liverpools Century) raced well in tough conditions to win the Youth C race.
A large field of 33 novice riders lined up for the category 4 race, and after Rhos on Sea's domination of the top 10 in the first round, Rhos riders were out in force once again in the hunt for more wins. The race got off to a fast start with Chris Barratt (Holywell Avengers) pushing the pace and forcing a break of 7 riders. It was David Parry (Clwb Rasio Mona) who inserted some organisation into the mixed breakaway group with a steady through-and-off to maintain the gap. By now the rest of the field had disentegrated with many riders working in small groups or on their own. As the breakaway group lapped the strewn riders, Marc Colclough (Rhos on Sea CC) pulled away taking Daniel Sampson (Chapeu The People's Bicycle Club) and Jamie Fletcher (Chester RC) with him. For the remaining 15 minutes, the 3 riders could not be caught and a sprint ensued which saw Sampson take the win from Fletcher (2nd) and Colclough (3rd).
Following the men's race, 15 ladies lined up for the series' first ladies race and after 2 good wins this month in the Cycling Development North West Road Race League, local rider Jen Edwards (Team 22) was looking for another win, this time on home soil. A steady pace was set for the first lap with the experienced ladies eventually cranking up the pace on the second lap resulting in many riders at the back struggling to hold on. Harriet Owen (Matrix Vulpine) and Edwards broke away from the group along with Ruth Metcalfe (Rhos on Sea) and Rebecca Rimmington (Merlin Cycles). The chasing riders failed to close the gap and so eventually the race came down to an exciting sprint finish into the strong headwind. Edwards made the first move and looked like a win was in the bag, but Owen was hot on her wheels and eventually outsprinted Edwards over the line. Rimmington finished 3rd with Metcalfe 4th. Next Sunday sees the return of the women's race in the last round of the series.
The last race of the day was the mens E/1/2/3 race which provided more great racing from a field of 38 riders. This included the likes of Alex Jones of Audlem Cycling Club (last years winner of the Great Orme Race), Simon Wilson of Wheelbase Altura MGD (winner of the Clayton Spring Classic), Gwyn Lovibond of Teamwallis CHH Racing Team, Marsh Tracks' own Dylan Kerfoot-Robson and Giles Drake (Leisure Lakes Bikes.com). Straight from the off the pace was high and by lap 3, Todd Hotchkiss (Audlem Cycling Club) had attacked off the front to gain a good lead. The bunch were chasing hard when Simon Wilson and Alex Jones jumped the gap to make it three up front until they were eventually pulled back in by the strong field. It was an ominous sign as to what was to come. With attacks now going every corner, the bunch started to thin and eventually split into two, with some riders being unlucky and getting caught behind in the second group. Most of the strongest riders were at the front however, with Kerfoot-Robson and Drake pushing the pace on.
With around 12 laps to go, Hotchkiss attacked into the head wind and gained a small margin. Just after the start of the lap 9, Wilson jumped across the gap again with Jones making it as well. Wilson and the two Audlem riders worked well together to increase the gap over the remaining field and the winner was to come form these three. With 5 laps left, Jones and Hotchkiss tried to shake off Wilson, knowing him to be a strong sprinter, but it all came down to a sprint in the end. Jones led it out with Hotchkiss and Wilson just behind as they entered the finishing straight. Wilson used his vast experience to take the win for Wheelbase Altura MGD, with Hotchkiss and Jones taking 2nd and 3rd for Audlem Cycling Club. The bunch raced home with them fighting it out for the remaining places. It was Gwyn Lovibond (Teamwallis CHH Racing Team) who won the kick, with Kerfoot-Robson (Marsh Tracks Race Team) finishing 5th.
The series continues next Sunday (23/4/14) with entries on the line accepted. Click here for more information.
Results can be seen here.