Defending champion, Gerry Bowditch of Mapledown Racing, raced to win at the Welsh Veteran Road Race Championships, after rain narrowed the race down to a final decisive sprint.
It was a contest met with an impressive show of grit and determination, as riders fought their way along a rain-lashed A40 near Usk in unforgivingly wet and bleary conditions.
Rain fell hard in the neutralised zone and refused to let off throughout the race, which comprised four laps of the traditional Hardwick course, making up a flat 15-mile circuit.
Heads were down as riders exited the first turn but still no breaks built up enough of a lead to shake off the bunch, which remained huddled together against the rain even with only half a lap to go.
Excitement stirred and resolve was tested at the final turn into the Hardwick roundabout, as it transpired the outcome would have to be decided by a sprint finish along the dual carriageway and four riders bravely led the first and only breakaway of the race.
It included Bowditch, who took the breakaway right to the finish, winning the sprint to claim the race win and his second victorious Welsh Vets title.
He was closely followed by John Shephard (Urban Cyclery) and Ieaun Davies (Ystwyth CC), completing the race podium and deciding the outcome of the V40-49 category.
A steely wind challenged the leaders on the final climb at the end of the circuit, but some tactical judgement from Cardiff JIF’s Paul Bennett, saw him finish 7th, enough to clinch the championship jersey among the V50-59 contenders.
Cwmcarn Paragon’s Andy Howell, 10th overall, clinched silver meanwhile, as JIF’s Dave Bright completed the V50-59 podium with a bronze place.
With injuries plaguing several female riders this season unfortunately there was no women’s championship this year.
However, credit must go to Lowri Bunn of Abergavenny RC, who took the opportunity to test herself in dismal conditions with every inch of enthusiasm as the rest of the field, finishing sixth overall.
A steely performance also came from Austin Heath, the only male 60+ rider.
The final top ten race finishers in order: Gerry Bowditch (Mapledown Racing), John Shepard (Urban Cyclery), Ieaun Davies (Ystwyth CC), John Aspell (Forza Cycles), John Holt (Team Tredz), Lowri Bunn (Abergavenny RC), Paul Bennett (Cardiff JIF), Chris Matthews (Forza Cycles), Ian Sutcliffe (Abergavenny RC) and Andy Howell (Cwmcarn Paragon RC).
Special thanks goes to Steve Edwards of Cardiff JIF for organising the event following a date change to enable the race to go ahead.
Credit must also go to the volunteers who were suitably soaked-through on return to race HQ but without whom the championship could not have taken place including commissaires, Steve Thomas, Stuart Meek and the NEG Wales marshals.
- Gerry Bowditch (Mapledown Racing)
- Jon Shepherd (Urban Cyclery)
- Ieuan Davies (Ystwyth CC)
- Paul Bennett (Cardiff Jif)
- Andy Howell (Cwmcarn Paragon)
- Dave Bright (Cardiff Jif)
For full race results, please visit the Cardiff JIF website.