Cowley Road Condors Womens Road Race (cat 2/3/4)

9th July 2017, Woodstock-Tackley course

This is a rolling 11km course with 2 short, sharp climbs and a couple of fast descents. It got feisty early on, which kept the commissaire busy because race-cars had to be repeatedly re-positioned in the convoy, often on single track, twisting road.

I started pretty well, keeping comfortably in the front half through the neutralised section and into the race. Towards the end of lap 1 the mood in the bunch changed, which seemed early for a serious attack, but I moved up anyway, knowing there were some very strong 2nd cats onboard.

It was a wise move. The first attacks came on a sharp climb, quickly followed by multiple counter-attacks on the drag that followed and as a result, the bunch splintered at the front and half of the field got spat out the back. I held on and held on, legs burning, then I gradually started to lose contact along with a determined group of three. As we battled on, a 2nd cat rider shouting encouragement, sprinted off the front of our group like a bat out of hell and none of us could match her pace. We soldiered on, still in sight of the front group but we couldn’t catch it, whilst she put in an enormous solo effort to rejoin them, which earned her the Combativity Prize and she eventually took 7th place in the race. Chapeau!

Through lap 2, my chase group swelled to about a dozen and by lap 3 we were working well together. I didn’t know at the time, but the front of the race was still in bits due to repeated attacks and for the bell (6th) lap there were 3 chasing groups on the road with various bridging riders in between!

The finish was no less dramatic. Rebecca Johnson (Aprire HSS) won. Other details are TBC, but the best information I have is that 2 minutes behind Johnson, 2 team-mates from Somerset couldn’t be separated by the finish line judge and agreed on a tie for 3rd. Then there was another 2 minute gap to the 5th (and/or 6th) placed rider and a group of 6 came in 2 minutes behind her, soon to be followed by a bunch sprint in my group.

Result: I placed 18th out of 36 riders, which doesn't earn me any points, just some very tired legs, a big grin and one or two new friends who happen to be thoroughly awesome women. What a great day on the bike!

- Jane Wilson