The Tarmac Tour of Hertfordshire has gone from strength to strength this year, attracting large numbers of riders (including some well-known ones) and as many as 12,000 spectators to the fourth round which took place at Welwyn Garden City – lending credence to the Series’ claim that it’s the biggest of its type in the UK.
The fifth and final round, in Hitchin on the 25th of August, also attracted a big crowd and, in the opinion of NS, was the best so far – a very technical circuit far removed from the all-too-common four-corner square seen at many crits with numerous tight corners (including some very difficult ones in a section running through parkland, sadly not accessible to the public) and the cobbles that gave the race its name. Rain early in the day left the circuit slippery and caused some crashes during the open course session and a nasty crash during the Men’s Masters race left organisers with no option other than to cancel the last two events of the day, but fortunatey the sun came out and dried the cobbles for the Junior and Women’s races earlier on.
Leicester Forest CC’s Megan Cherry was the winning girl in the mixed U8s, while Ipswich Velo sisters Abbey and Eva Thompson were close behind for second and third. Ella Ruggles, of host club Hitchin Nomads, took the U12s. In the U14s, Iona Moir (Barking and Dagenham CC) was first, followed by Abigail Old (Hillingdon Slipstreamers) and Hannah Brown (no club). Abigail Coles (Lee Valley Youth) was the winning U16.
In the Women’s Go Race, there was no real surprise as the super-strong Dagmar Pfeiffer (no club) took an early lead and began passing back-markers in the first few laps. North Road CC’s Ivana Prokopova is another very strong rider with an excellent cornering style, but even she couldn’t stay with Dagmar who won by a clear margin.
1. Dagmar Pfeiffer
2. Ivana Prokopova (North Road CC)
3. Jenny Probert (Walkern Revolution)
4. Allison Kaye
5. Sarah Burl
6. Francesca Wood
7. Tracey Stewart
The Women’s E/1/2/3/4 was a battle right from the start between Gemma Sargent (Aprire-HSS), Clover Murray (Ford Ecoboost) and Sam Fawcett (Lovelo-Cinelli). Gemma, who won silver at the National Criterium Championships in July, was the only one of the trio to benefit from the assistance of a team mate, Lucy Harper, who took a long turn on the front, it looked as though she was the most likely winner after spending much of the race in the lead – until disaster struck and she punctured and was left out of contention due to lost time (and a sizable chunk of her finger after grabbing the brakes hard to prevent a crash).
Clover’s a 2nd Category rider, one step above 3rd Cat. Sam, but for the rest of the race the Lovelo rider was virtually untouchable – taking her place at the front, she rode hard to keep her position before bringing the hammer down for a final sprint to the line and victory with a good three or four bike lengths between herself and her riva, who tool second. Jadan-Weldtite’s Sarah Burke got the better of Harper in the final stretch to take third, while Sargent finished just behind her team mate in fifth.
1. Sam Fawcett (Lovelo-Cinelli)
2. Clover Murray (Ford Ecoboost)
3. Sarah Burke (Jadan-Weldite)
4. Lucy Harper (Aprire-HSS)
5. Gemma Sargent (Aprire-HSS)
6. Harriette Machin
7. Claire Fiske (Welwyn Wheelers)
8. Ingrid Matthews (Hitchin Nomads)
9. Rachel Dunn (Welwyn Wheelers)
10. Deena Blacking (CC London)
The Hitchin Cobbled Classic saw a number of excellent perfomances, but the honours for the real stand-out ride of the day have to go to Hillingdon Slipstreamers’ Millie Coleman, winner of the U10 race. Millie literally owned her race from beginning to end, perfectly executing every corner and never looking in any danger of finishing anywhere other than first – which she did, safely ahead of her team mate Stanley Kent and Alfie Cullender of Barking & Dagenham CC.