2016 National Women’s Masters Championships
Lovelo-Cinelli, whose women’s road race last month turned out to be a massive success, have gained permission from British Cycling to organise this year’s National Women’s Masters Championships to take place on the 7th of August.
“I’m trying to get it to the standard of our last race at least if not exceed it but I don’t have long,” organiser Nick Clarke told us. “That’s how short notice this is – but it was either do something or there wouldn’t be a Champs.”
If you followed our coverage of Nick’s road race, you’ll know that he didn’t make a big thing of the fact that his women’s race was an equal length to the men’s, nor that the prizes were the same – as far as he’s concerned, this is simply how all races ought to be (and he’s right, of course). He may only have two-and-a-bit months, but Neutral Service predicts this may very well be the best Women’s Masters Champs to date.
The biggest news this week has of course been the Women’s Lincoln GP which took place on Sunday the 15th of May and included the National Junior Women’s Championship. It’s been six decades since Bob Eastwood of the Huddersfield Road Club won the first edition of the men’s race; following several years of calls for a women’s edition and the enormous popularity of last year’s National Road Race Championships on a similar circuit, the organisers finally agreed to go ahead – and did an absolutely splendid job sufficient to attract an amazing 142 riders, so chapeau to them.
The best race reports are usually written by the riders who were there. So here are reports from Team 22’s Rachel Crighton and Sunsport Velo, an absolutely brilliant video blog from WNT and more from VoxWomen. Huw Williams has his typically excellent selection of photographs here.
Georgie Panchaud joins Bikeshed-Bianchi
Bristol-based Georgie Panchaud, previously riding for the Morvelo Test Team, has joined the South-West’s Bikeshed-Bianchi.
“Georgie is an amazingly consistent rider, with a knack for positioning herself well in races,” team manager David Walters told Neutral Service. “But that’s not the reason why it’ll be so good; she simply seems like one of us. Her attitude, application and general demeanour fits with our set-up and the rest of the team so well, and that means more than anything.”
Matrix Tour Series kicks off
The first round of this year’s Matrix Tour Series took place in Motherwell on the 17th. The race was dominated by a four-strong break made up of Lares-Waowdeals’ Scottish star Eileen Roe, National Road Series Champion Nikki Juniper (Ford Ecoboost), Annasley Park of Team Breeze and Drops’ Alice Barnes, with Barnes positioning herself perfectly to take the top points at both intermediate sprints and gain the first green jersey of the Series.
The chase group remained competitive and provided plenty of thrills for the crowd despite the leaders never looking to be in any real danger of being caught, which also kept them out of harm’s way when an apparent touch of wheels caused a bad crash in the final laps. Sadly Team Breeze’s Mel Lowther, who celebrated her 20th birthday just two days earlier, hit the tarmac hard and was taken to hospital – she lost some teeth but, being the tough rider she is, was soon reassuring fans on Facebook that she’s OK.
With several race officials on the circuit dealing with the aftermath of the crash the final sprint didn’t take place in entirely ideal circumstances, the leading quartet finding themselves fighting for position in a suddenly constricted section of road once they’d rounded the final corner; however, despite this it was clear from their reactions afterwards that nobody felt Roe had not earned her victory fair and square.
With Barnes’ team mates Eleanor Dickinson and Annabel Simpson taking fifth and eight, Drops were the most successful team and finished up with 98 points. Team Breeze are second with 79 and Ford Ecoboost third with 78. Full results are here.
Round 2 takes place in Redditch on the 26th of May, followed by Round 3 at Stoke-on-Trent on the 2nd of June, Round 4 in Stevenage on the 6th, Round 5 in Croydon the following day and the sixth and final round in Portsmouth on the 9th.
New North Coast 500 record
The Adventure Syndicate – a team consisting of Starley Racing’s Gaby Leveridge, courier-turned author Emily Chappell (not read her book? Buy it now. It’s stupendously good), Commonwealth Games riders Anne Ewing and Lee Craigie, endurance and adventure specialists Jo Thom and Zara Mair and National 24-hr MTB Champ Rickie Cotter – set out from Inverness on Saturday morning to take on the North Coast 500, a route of a little over 500 miles passing through Applecross, Ullapool, Durness, John o’Groats and Dornoch before returning to Inverness.
The North Highlands is world famous for its landscapes, some of the most beautiful and dramatic in Europe, but the seven riders probably didn’t have quite as much time for photos as they might have liked* – the reason being that they completed the distance in 36 hours, returning to Inverness on Sunday evening to break the previous record set by round-the-world cyclist Mark Beaumont by almost two hours. Read more on Lee Craigie’s blog here.
*Fortunately, they had a film crew in tow. Follow the Syndicate on Facebook to find out when the footage is available.
Heather Bamforth wins WST GameChanger Ambassador award
The annual Women’s Sport Trust #BeAGameChanger Ambassador of Women’s Sport seeks to reward a “game-changing decision maker / influencer who has achieved real, significant and lasting change for women’s sport. This is an inspiring individual who has improved the way in which women’s sport works.”
That’s about as spot-on a description of Heather Bamforth as anyone could wish for, but the founder of the Racing Chance Foundation was up against some stiff competition with former England cricketer Ebony Rainford-Brent (who has done more than anyone else to bring women’s cricket up to the status it currently enjoys) and Scottish Women in Sport founder Maureen McGonigle both selected by the judges from the candidates nominated by the public.
All three finalists have done an enormous amount for women’s sport, but the judges decided that Heather’s tireless devotion and success rate in improving women’s cycling in this country meant that she deserved to win. Anyone who has followed her work with the Racing Chance Foundation and the progress of the riders who have been associated with it will agree. Well done, Heather – cycling’s a better place thanks to you!
The Sigma Sport women’s team has a shiny new website, with details on the team’s aims and info on the riders. Find it here.
Neutral Service is always interested in women’s cycling news and road, crit, cyclocross and time trial race reports from any women’s/girls’ race in the United Kingdom (or abroad in the case of overseas events with significant British interest), whether written by riders, race organisers or fans. Fancy helping out? Find us for a chat on Twitter and Facebook. Organisers – send your results to us via the same links