Essex Giro Report

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Heavy rain overnight and during the first laps of the circuit left some sections slightly damp.

With its numerous short but sometimes rather steep hills and gravel-strewn rural roads, the road race parcours at this year’s Essex Giro was always going to be one that required riders to race with their heads as well as their legs, and with its (unusual for a domestic race) length of 120km, it was a test of mental and physical stamina. Add in the driving rain that fell throughout the first couple of laps, the mud and flooded sections caused by the torrential rain that had fallen overnight and the scorching sunshine later on and the result was a race that had much to offer the spectator (unfortunately, there weren’t very many; only myself and a couple who’d found the race by mistake – and thought it was the Women’s Tour – on the Bartlow to Ashdon section!) and presented a real challenge to the riders.

Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International, home to Sarah Storey who started the race with an advantage of 2’23” after winning both the time trial and crit at Redbridge the day before, kept the pace high to discourage attacks and made sure that anyone who did try to get away was immediately stopped – Annabel Fisher and Mathilde Matthijsse (Bonito Squadra Corse) stopped them having it all their own way, giving Storey’s team a bit of a scare by managing to get as far off the front as 30″ before they were brought back. The combination of high speed and difficult conditions took its toll and several riders crashed – Fusion’s Elizabeth Malins, ninth in the time trial and second in the crit, was forced to abandon with an injured elbow. The first prime was not hotly contested and went to Kingston Wheelers’ Maryka Sennema with Helen Ralston (Les Filles) and Laura Massey (Epic-Scott) second and third; deciding that it was time to inject some action into proceedings, Ralston initiated an attack a little later on and, with the assistance of RST’s Abby-Mae Parkinson, built up an advantage of 20″ that gave her the second prime.

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Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International were never far from the front, keeping a tight rein on the race to protect Sarah Storey’s overall lead (image: Neutral Service CC BY-SA 3.0)

By the final 10km Pearl Izumi had done enough and were able to relax safe in the knowledge that it was now too late for Storey’s advantage to be put in peril, so when Gillian Taylor (Fusion) attacked with 8km to go they did not hunt her down as they had when Fisher and Matthijsse got away earlier. She was joined by Epic-Scott’s Laura Massey and the pair worked together for a while in order to keep the lead; however, on the last climb leading to the finish Massey it was immediately obvious that Massey was the stronger rider and she’d opened a sizable gap by the time she crossed the line. Nicola Juniper, leading a pack of nineteen, was just 2″ behind Taylor as she took third.

It was an excellent race with enough excitement and fine tactics to keep any fan happy. Easily reached by bike, car and public transport from much of the south-east including London, Cambridge and elsewhere, the parcours is in beautiful countryside with several attractive villages along the way and a choice of pubs offering good food, which makes it a great day out for any cycling fan and all the family – highly recommended and well worth a visit next year.

Stage 1 (ITT) Top Ten
1 Sarah Storey (Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International) 5’39”
2 Molly Weaver (Epic-Scott) +18″
3 Nicola Juniper (Echelon-Rotor) +21″
4 Mathilde Mathijsse (Bonito Squadra Corse) +23″
5 Hayley Simmonds (Velosport-Pasta Montegrappa) ST
6 Maryka Sennema (Kingston Wheelers) +25″
7 Melanie Spath (Wyndymilla-Reynolds) +26″

The pace stayed high throughout the race - which took its toll, with several crashes on the slippery roads (image: Neutral Service CC BY-SA 3.0)

The pace stayed high throughout the race – which took its toll, with several crashes on the slippery roads (image: Neutral Service CC BY-SA 3.0)

8 Gabriella Shaw (Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International) ST
9 Elizabeth Malins (Fusion-Gearclub Bike Science) +27″
10 Laura Massey (Epic-Scott) +31″

Stage 2 (Crit) Top Ten
1 Sarah Storey (Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International) 1h19’45”
2 Elizabeth Malins (Fusion-Gearclub Bike Science) +02’23”
3 Nicola Juniper (Echelon-Rotor) +02’32”
4 Lauryn Therin (Bonito Squadra Corse) ST
5 Bethany Hayward (Matrix-Vulpine) ST
6 Hannah Walker (Epic-Scott) ST
7 Keira McVitty (WyndyMilla-Reynolds) ST
8 Lucy Shaw (Solihull CC) ST
9 Melanie Spath (Wyndymilla-Reynolds) ST
10 Cassie McGoldrick (WyndyMilla-Reynolds) ST

Stage 3 (Road Race) Top Ten
1 Laura Massey (Epic-Scott) 3h18’01”
2 Gillian Taylor (Fusion-Gearclub Bike Science) +10″
3 Nicola Juniper (Echelon-Rotor) +12″
4 Rebecca Nixon (Dundee Thistle) ST

When the rain stopped and the sun came out, conditions became hot (image: Neutral Service CC BY-SA 3.0)

When the rain stopped and the sun came out, conditions became hot (image: Neutral Service CC BY-SA 3.0)

5 Lauren Creamer (Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International) ST
6 Molly Weaver (Epic-Scott) ST
7 Lauryn Therin (Bonito Squadra Corse) ST
8 Bethany Hayward (Matrix-Vulpine) ST
9 Gabriella Shaw (Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International) ST
10 Cassie McGoldrick (WyndyMilla-Reynolds) ST

Overall General Classification
1 Sarah Storey (Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International) 4h43’32”
2 Laura Massey (Epic-Scott) +02’24”
3 Nicola Juniper (Echelon-Rotor) +02’39”
4 Molly Weaver (Epic-Scott) +02’50”
5 Gillian Taylor (Fusion-Gearclub Bike Science) +02’55”
6 Maryka Sennema (Kingston Wheelers) +02’57”
7 Melanie Spath (Wyndymilla-Reynolds) +03’01”
8 Gabriella Shaw (Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International) +03’03”
9 Bethany Hayward (Matrix-Vulpine) 03’08”
10 Rebecca Rimmington (Merlin Cycles) 03’09”

 

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