Jon, Hayden and Ryan lined up for the East Lancashire spring road race on the Bashall Eaves long course. The 55 miles race would take in 5 laps of the rolling course that contained one notable climb and numerous fast flowing sections, some hampered by poor road surface. The team assembled for a roll out to the course only to realise the race briefing was 10 minutes earlier than they thought, meaning the warm up was far from ideal but had to suffice. The team discussed tactics for the day, with Hayden eager to work to gain a result for Ryan and Jon. The field of 51 riders rolled out neturalised for a mile from Edisford Primary school until the flag was brought in. Initially, the team were spread out in the pack with Ryan up the front, Jon in the middle and Hayden sitting last wheel.
From the flag drop, the Manchester based Crimson performance team drove the pace on hard on the first lap. Seeing the danger Hayden moved himself from the back to the front 10 riders on the first climb, an ascent that would see the race split in half. After being caught on the wrong side of the early split, Jon found himself in a small group of around 10 riders that formed the chase and were hoping to regain contact (by some miracle – punctures or farm traffic would have been ideal). The pace was kept high at the front by Crimson, but their three riders was quickly dropped to two. Seeing the front of the race suffering, Hayden attacked half way into the first lap going clear by himself, his sights set on the first of four primes on offer. Hayden claimed the prime and pushed on solo, forcing other teams such as Crimson and Chronomaster to chase.
Hayden was reeled in close to the end of the second lap, only to immediately jump off the front, again forcing Crimson to chase. He narrowly missed out on the second prime to a rider from the host club. However following this second lap sprint, Junior rider James Noonan decided to press on with the bunch slightly distanced. Hayden jumped on his wheel but only to get a free ride, not wanting a break to stay away for the race. Despite multiple plees, Hayden refused to pull a turn with Ryan getting a free ride in the pursuing peleton. The duo stayed out to cross the line for the third time with Hayden taking the prime, and despite a gap of 48 seconds at one point, the two riders were brought back by the bunch. Without hesitation, Hayden launched again with 3 riders joining him, although they were not willing to work as Hayden refused to pull a turn. Feeling better throughout the race and particularly good on the short steeper inclines, Jon decided to continue with the group and set a new goal of finishing first of the chase group.
Following a discussion with Ryan, the plan was for Hayden to keep the pace high on the front to bring it to a sprint. However, Hayden won the sprint for the 4th prime, a sprint with 2 others that had caused yet another split in the group. Hayden was temporarily caught in no mans land. A Crimson performance rider, second in the sprint for prime 4 pressed on with the bunch now some 50 metres behind. A couple of looks behind from Hayden, and Ryan yelled him to ride for a result. With that Hayden caught the front rider and was joined by another. The Crimson ride was keen to push on and happy to do most of the work, before he dropped his chain on the climb. Immediately after the commissaires gave the duo the time gap, Hayden attacked to lead the race by himself. He held a strong tempo to the line to claim his 4th victory of the season. Coming out of the final corner, Ryan positioned himself well with others seemingly offering to lead the group out. After a comfortable ride round in the main field for the entirety of the race, Ryan had the energy to execute the perfect sprint to win the bunch gallop. A 1st and 2nd for the THRE datawolves. For Jon, the final lap of the tough course meant only 5 riders remained. The pace was being driven hard and one final attack with around 3km to go saw Jon and one other rider go clear of the others in the group. The final 1km uphill drag proved a little too much for Jon and he finished second in the group. Overall, a good performance and a good lesson learnt for Jon.
Thank you too the East Lancs cycling club for putting on a great event.
Next weekend Hayden and Jon race the GA Bennett and GT Ellingworth road races on bank holiday Monday in grantham.
Photo credit Ellen Isherwood.