Molly Weaver (Epic-Scott) won the Great Orme Road Race in North Wales in spectacular fashion last weekend, beating the second and third riders to finish by almost three minutes. Here’s how she did it, and what she thought about the race…
After a bright and early 5am wake up call, I was on the road to Llandudno for my last race of the season. The race took in three laps of a 6.5mile circuit. Although this was my shortest road race of the year, I knew that it definitely wouldn’t be my easiest. The course went straight up a massive hill running along the edge of the coast, undulating slightly over the top, before descending the other side of the headland and then running along a flatter bottom edge to complete the lap. This is easily one of the best courses I’ve ridden, and the fact that it was a closed road race made it even better! This is unfortunately a novelty in Britain for a women’s race.
The race started with a short neutralised section, with Eve Dixon attacking as soon as the flag was down and racing began, kicking hard from the front. This fractured the peleton and caused a small group of riders to split off the front. I could feel my legs were okay with this acceleration so I decided to get on the front and keep the pace high. I was hoping that only a few riders would stay with me; which would make it easier tactically the next time up the climb where I would try to break away. However, as I kicked up the last, steeper, section of the climb, I looked behind to see I had a small gap over the next rider. I took this opportunity and decided to go for it; kicking again as the road flattened over the top. I kept my head down and the hammer on through the undulating top section. Looking behind I could see I only had a gap of around 10 seconds, so knew I had to extend this on the descent and over the bottom section before I started the climb again.
Having driven the course, I knew that all the corners could be taken at full gas and that I wouldn’t need to brake on any of them. I knew this gave me an advantage as others hadn’t seen the course beforehand and some of the bends looked tighter than they were. I tucked in and got as aero as I could, pedalling flat out. For the rest of the race, I settled into a timetrial effort, keeping the pace as high as I could. I knew I had to put as much time between myself and the small chasing group behind.
I wasn’t getting any time checks, so I didn’t know how big a gap I had. With this in mind, I just kept going as hard as I could and hoped it was enough. Over the next two laps, the hill definitely seemed to get longer and my legs started to scream. But as I came over the top of the climb on the final lap I had a good view back down the road, and couldn’t see another rider. This was a relief, as I knew that with only the descent and flat section of the race left I would be able to stay away. The crowds were amazing around the course and it was great to be able to enjoy the atmosphere as I came into the finish.
I’m so glad this was the race which ended my season. It’s always great to finish on a high, but even without the win this was one of the best race I’ve done all year and I hope it keeps growing in the coming seasons. It’s rare to get such a tough and attritional course for a women’s race; let alone have a full road closure and amazing crowds cheering you round!
…not to mention the incredible prizes…
© Molly Weaver