Guest Blog: Alex Willey – Forza Season Opener

85WzIuHwAlex Willey rides for new Wales-based squad Onit Cycles, a team set up by her father Roger to provide a home for women coming into cycling from other sports or “who are too old to take part in the teenage orientated development programmes.” This is her report on the Forza Season Opener race which took place on the Llandow motor racing circuit on the 22nd of February.
Alex is on Twitter and Facebook. You can also follow the team.
After what felt like an age on Sunday morning, it was time to get kitted up. It wasn’t looking pretty outside what with the hail and rain but I was still looking forward to meeting team mate Helen Morris at the circuit. I’d also decided to leave my brand new, shiny team bike at home. My Focus Izalco Max 2.0 would just have to wait for a drier day!
Familiar with the local circuit I knew it would be a good first crit to do to find my legs and build up some confidence before the season gets into full swing.
Helen and I went for a short warm up to save our hands from turning to blocks of ice before the race started. Off we went and it was a steady start to the race. We had a cross wind and didn’t really benefit from the wind direction on the circuit. After about ten minutes I had warmed up and decided to test how everyone else was feeling by pushing the pace a little, everyone else was keen to keep close with Gaynor Hughes (County Cycles) and Janet Rees (Cardiff JIF) making their presence known.

Along the back straight and into the final corner I’d keep the pace up. Helen was doing well to stay with the group but was starting to feel them get away on this corner and up the slight incline for the last few laps. A couple of riders had been lapped by the peloton though so kudos to Helen for sticking with it for her first crit!

Thankfully and feeling like a drowned rat, the 3 laps to go sign popped up. I made sure I tucked in as much as possible and on the last lap pushed on the back straight looking back to see if I’d get any takers. I’d made a small gap but didn’t fully commit and slowly the group chased. I decided to fully rest up going into the last bend whilst trying to control the other riders. I wanted to have some energy left for the final sprint! I was disappointed that we would fight it out for the sprint as I knew Emily Haycox (Cardiff AJAX) would be the rider to beat.
Looking behind me to see whether anyone would attack, they didn’t. So I kicked down hard on the incline with about 100m to go. I looked back to see Janet and Emily reacting and out of their saddles so I continued pushing when Emily swooped past on my left. I knew I wouldn’t get on her wheel so continued to pedal hard. As if in slow motion, Janet was creeping up behind me from the right. She continued to gain speed and as our wheels were battling it out for what felt like forever, she beat me to the line by half a wheel!
So I took 3rd. I was happy enough with that but more so the fact that I’d tested out the other riders rather than sitting in for the duration. Now I can’t wait to enter some races with all of the ONIT WRT after they recover/return from training abroad to really have some fun!