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Sep 27

Selby CC Road Race – Danny’s Revenge

After the near miss of last week, the HTRC Racing Team packed their bags and bikes and headed out to race for the final time in 2014 at Selby CC’s Road Race on September 20th in Riccall, just outside of Selby, in a bid to make amends.

 

The team consisted of Mark Walker, Will Thomas, Danny Posnett and Shaun Nicholson – who’s wasn’t sure how he’d go having not ridden too many BC events, but was fired up nonetheless.

Hard and fast racing

The race itself wasn’t long in distance at all, at a mere 35 miles (8 laps), and due to the flat nature of the course, it didn’t seem to be the hardest race on paper. Sometimes though the easier the course the harder and faster the racing.

 

The weather was once again overcast, but unlike last week were it stayed dry throughout, there was the odd spot of rain in the air.

 

Will was on road captain duty and supplied the tactics for the day. He wasn’t up for a sprint this time around and simply suggested that we attack, attack, attack. It would prove to be an inspired idea.

Neutralised, but 25mph

All fired up and ready to roll, we headed away from the HQ in Riccall to the course under neutralised conditions. It was a fast neutralised section with the pack strung out at a speed of around 25-26mph.

 

Once on the course I took a moment to gain my bearings having not ridden the route before. Will was still up the front with me and Danny towards the back of the bunch with Shaun. I took longer than usual to move up, around a lap and a half, but in the meantime Will was sticking to his plan by launching the first attack. With the bunch so fresh it was hard to get away at this stage and he was inevitably brought back.

Surged away from the bunch

I was next to go, as we approached the start and finish line for the second time. I was moving from the back to the front in the process but found the overspeed so fast that I just carried on and surged away from the bunch. A rider from Huddersfield Wheelers tried following, so I eased up realising it would make more sense to let him on my wheel and work as a pair, rather than going solo. We had a healthy gap too but not big enough for the pack to let us go completely.

 

We lasted over a lap together before a group of 5 riders caught up to us trying to break the stranglehold of the bunch. Unfortunately they just brought the bunch up to us, so that was the end of that attack.

Danny’s turn to attack

After a series of attacks from the persistent Craig Gath (York Cycleworks), it was Danny’s turn to attack, but he did so without anyone following him. I suggested to Joshua Ruddiman (Ingear Biemme) to join him, knowing his skill in breakaways from earlier races in the season. I was hoping that he would work with Danny and time trial away, as the pack were becoming more and more reluctant to chase breaks down. Unfortunately he didn’t attack and Danny was left solo.

 

I then thought to myself that I should attack & see if I can bridge to Danny and work as a HTRC 2up TTT pairing. If it didn’t work the pack would hopefully ease up further having had their legs stretched once more, so I thought it was a no brainer at the time. It worked to a certain extent, but Danny couldn’t get the gap he needed and was pulled in by the bunch.

Bunch split

After yet more attacks from Gath, the race became rather calm. I had another dig but was soon pulled back. However, at the halfway point on the course, at it’s most exposed, a number of riders pressed hard and gaps started to appear. The wind had picked up a little and the rain was coming down heavier allowing the bunch to split into 3 groups. I made it past Danny to join group two and then past Will to group one. I thought it was a clever move but the firepower wasn’t quite there and the pack soon grouped back together.

Timing crucial

Coming up to the line for the 6th time I attacked once more but I seemed to be marked by a number of riders as I didn’t get much of a gap. In doing so I’d pulled back a solo attack from a Cystic Fibrosis rider but it wasn’t enough to see me free of the bunch. I duly eased up only for then to see a counter-attack from Danny. It wasn’t necessarily a super-quick attack but the timing of it was crucial. He went away with the pack finally unwilling to chase. It had seemed we’d cracked them, at least mentally if not physically. Craig Gath tried to chase but his attacks were getting weaker and weaker and he got nowhere near Danny.

Ride of the year

It was amazing how much of a lead he got in such a short time. The bunch had seemingly given up. The only problem was Danny had 2 laps to go, or just shy of 10 miles, and he was solo. If it came off it would be the ride of the year from a HTRC rider, in my opinion.

 

Danger started to appear when the pack got organised and started to chase. Danny’s lead was visibly smaller as a result, around 20 seconds, and the pack looked set to catch him. Had this being the last lap I’d have said it was possible for him to stay away, just. As it wasn’t, I thought there was no chance.

Immense credit to Will

However winning races is a team effort, and Will, to his immense credit, kept tabs on everybody by staying second wheel. I then got myself involved in the chase by placing myself in the line of riders that was moving forward to take a turn at the head of the bunch. I got about 6 riders from the tip of the bunch and just freewheeled. The rider ahead of me took his turn and then turned to see who was next to come through. The answer was no one, and that bit of organisation the pack had gathered, had gone in a flash. Riders were now looking at each other to come through and as a result the pace slowed, the bunch grouped up, and Danny’s lead extended.

 

The pack got going again to a certain extent when we came through the start and finish for the final time, but no one had the legs to keep it going and the pace eased up once more.

Danny was now flying

Danny was now flying at this point. He later claimed he was in bits, as you’d expect, but his pace was still intact and he got so far ahead that we couldn’t see him with half a lap to go.

Pack weren’t keen

I’d being swamped by this point with a few near misses with other riders wheels earlier on in the lap, and was at the back with Shaun, who was still going strong. However, I’d learnt my lesson from last week and wasn’t willing to let anything go to chance, even if Danny was now virtually certain of the victory. I put in a big effort to move from the rear of the bunch right to the front to assist Will, who was still doing a great job in second wheel. I then followed a hard attack from Josh Ruddiman. I got onto his wheel and for a minute we had a gap. I thought it would have been the cherry on the cake if I came 2nd or 3rd with Danny winning. However the pack weren’t keen on letting us have our own way completely and pulled me back once more.

Time to celebrate

Danny was still way ahead and came onto the straight/finish line to take a marvellous solo win, the first by a HTRC rider in an open road race in years. He was so far ahead that he had time to celebrate, turn round and then watch the sprint for second. Not keen on falling off at the end of the season, I backed out of the sprint having seen a few pieces of dangerous riding by riders in front of me.

 

I was in jubilant mood, however, when I saw Danny at the side lines with his arms in the air. It had felt like I’d won the race myself as I came across to congratulate him. Will and Shaun had finished close to me at the rear of the bunch and soon got involved in the celebrations. Shaun in particular had impressed himself by staying in the group so easily.

Danny’s day

But it was Danny’s day, and after seeing the man crumble at last weeks loss, it was so pleasing to see him win. It was nice to see other riders congratulate him and acknowledge our performance as a team. It was also extremely satisfying that our tactics worked for once, and credit for that should go to Will.

 

It was a fitting end to the season which has seen so many high’s and lows, most of which seem to stem around Danny for some reason. It also meant that we’d moved our BC ranking to around 20th place for the Yorkshire rankings with 70 points, around 65 more than last year. And despite not picking up as many points as I’d hoped, I have to say this year was by far the most enjoyable of all my cycling seasons.

We can improve yet further

For now though, its a case of unwinding completely throughout the next few weeks. I’m looking towards 2015 though, confident that with a years experience of riding together and some exciting additions to the team, we can improve yet further on our score for this year.

 

Danny even got to share the same Yorkshire Post news article as Sir Bradley! Read more…

 

Race results from VeloUK.net

 

Mark Walker
HTRC Road Race Secretary