After a recent bout of illness and sadly having to sit out Bedford 2day, I went into the Tour Series a bit apprehensive after not having raced since Cheshire Classic. Unsure how my legs would feel I hadn’t set myself any particular goals for the race and team plan was to make it hard and agressive, which suited me fine as I find it hard to ride any other way. On first sighting of the course I loved it! It probably helped that it was bone dry and the sun was most definately shining but the difficult corners really suited my riding style and gave me a boost of confidence.
The race started with 2 neutralised laps behind the motorbike for which I found myself dead last in the 45 rider peleton, 100% my fault but I really wanted to just stay safe until the race went up to full speed. I realised I had made it hard for myself as I worked my way up the bunch, but I could see the other Matrix Fitness- Prendas girls taking on the head of the race and knew there was no panic! First things first Little Penny launched a lone attack, the rest of us girls controlled the peleton seeing if the gap would rise but the other riders, particularly Scott Contessa were not letting any body away just yet and so it all came back together.
Next I launched an attack myself, unsure why really, but Im going to put it down to being a leg tester. In hindsight this was actually a good move as I found myself away for the first Sprint after a few other riders bridged across to me and came 2nd in that behind the young wippet that is Lucy Garner! Again this break wasn’t to succeed either and I found myself back in the peleton feeling pretty gassed after my lone effort, and straight away I was thinking ‘Nice one Simo, you’ve done too much already!’ But my amazing team mates launched into action, Literally! Penny and Sarah were attacking and counter attacking left, right and centre, whilst the me and the 2 Hannahs controlled and followed wheels. This really did allow me to get my breath back, as I sat in about 3rd wheel I could stay safe but also police any moves i deemed dangerous.
The girls kept this up perfectly and a small group with both Sarah and Penny in started to drift away, as I happily watched it go, I saw Corrine Hall (Node 4) out of the corner of my eye jump across and so i got on her wheel quickly thinking that 3 in this group would set us up perfectly for the team prize. But Corrine’s speed took us sailing past the group and all of a sudden we were away! A 5 strong break, with every girl initially pulling her weight, especially Look Mum No Hands rider Jo McRae, which was refreshing to see after some frustration I have had in other races where girls just don’t want to hurt themselves. The gap grew as we kept our heads down and the second sprint approached, and to find myself in another break coming into this was a dream scenario! I realised my potential to take the sprints jersey and thought I may as well give it ago. I was in a head to head battle with Jo Tindley it was a really leg burner, she was seriously fast but i dug deep taking another 2nd and hoped that would be enough to secure the sprints jersey.
The closing stages of the race came around so fast, I was aware that Helen Wyman and Lucy Garner were on a mission to bridge to gap between the peleton and us and so we really had to keep the pace on until the closing stages. Coming into the last lap I was a bit worried, having such talented riders in the break with me I knew I had to try play to my strengths and not take it down to a sprint, especially having seen Corrine’s impressive sprint at Cheshire Classic and having Hannah Barnes the National Crit Champ there. So that was settled then, I’d take a flyer and hope it stuck, an all or nothing move! So from the far corner of the course I just launched it head down along the back straight and into the last corner, just telling myself ‘Dont bin it, dont bin it!’ My legs were burning but one little glance over my shoulder I saw the gap was good and then it dawned on me for the first time that this race was mine! The arms went up, and the smile from ear to ear emerged…all the apprehension was for nothing, but i was still in shock!
Back in the bunch Sarah took bunch sprint and with Penny not far behind, that secured our team victory on the night! The girls had policed that peleton so well for my break to be allowed to go and for that I cant thank them enough, it’s nice to be able to have such confidence in your team, and they were perfect, could not have done it without them!! So Matrix Fitness- Prendas cleaned up!! Amazing Night!
Now my mind drifts to the next round in Peterborough where I will be wearing the Series Leaders Jersey and will be putting everything into defending it, and I cant wait!!