Damp conditions didn’t put the dampener on anyone’s spirit at the Lovelo-Cinelli Road Race on the 8th of April: following the cancellation of several early-season events due to the snow in March, the smiles on the start line proved that many riders were just happy to race, even in the rain – and even when the organisers were forced to postpone the start by thirty minutes due to the late running of the men’s race earlier in the day, something that tends not to go down too well with athletes who have just carefully warmed up on the turbos and rollers, there were no complaints.
Women’s race organisation improves every year, but one thing riders have been asking for for many years is longer races. This one, at 97km, is one of the longest, which encouraged several attempts at early breaks as riders riding to support team leaders tested rival teams and those riding purely for themselves took the opportunity to have a little fun before the main contenders started exerting their authority. However, with the race halted in the first lap for the commissaires to give a little reminder about the rules regarding crossing the central white lines, the pack was soon brought back together. Meanwhile, thanks to a combination of wet roads, run-off from the fields and, in places, some very poor road surfaces and deep potholes, punctures started to cause several names who could otherwise have challenged for victory to lose serious time and drop far back from the lead – one rider had no fewer than eight, and slippery corners also took their toll with at least one rider crashing twice; fortunately, there were no serious injuries. Some later breaks stayed away for longer, with an especially notable example by Victoria Strila being one of the highlights of the race: the TW1 Racing rider was off the front for long enough to get the group behind her worried, and although she eventually ran out of energy and couldn’t remain in contention for the win her efforts greatly enlivened what had already been a fascinating race.
The long, straight and mostly flat approach to the finish was ideal for those sprinters who can spin a big ring and turn out massive wattages, so it was no surprise as the final half-lap drew near to a close to see Karla Boddy and Abigail Dentus take their positions at the front of the lead group and then, still some way off the line, light the blue touchpaper. Karla, a very powerful sprinter who looks to be in even better form than she has for the last few seasons and excels on finishes such as this, had been a prominent feature at the front of the race for the entirety and, thanks to the support of her Les Filles team mates which continued even after the squad lost a couple of key riders, on paper at least looked a very likely winner – but this time it was not to be and, thanks to a mistiming of probably only the merest fraction of a second, she was not able to overtake her rival – the Team Breeze rider was first over the line with a tiny but comfortable lead.
Right there with Karla and Abbie was a less familiar face belonging to a rider in a Fareham Wheelers jersey, and the sheer effort she put in for third was extremely impressive. Her name is Kirsty McSeveney, and after the race she informed Neutral Service that she’s “still pretty new” to the sport and has only taken part in a couple of road races so far, having picked up the majority of her 2nd Cat. points on the closed circuit at Goodwood, but wants to do more – so we reckon she’s going to be rider to watch this year. Also deserving of a mention are the juniors that completed the race: Georgia Bullard (Jadan Weldtite-Vive le Velo) and Lydia Watts (Team 22) both finished top 20, while Jessica Woodworth (OnForm) was also in the lead group at the finish.
1 Abigail Dentus (Breeze; Cat. 2) 15pts
2 Karla Boddy (Les Filles; Cat. 2) 12pts
3 Kirsty McSeveney (Fareham Wheelers; Cat. 2) 10pts
4 Eeva Sarlin (Velociposse; Cat. 3) 8pts
5 Danielle Shrosbree (CC London; Cat. 3) 6pts
6 Emma Wood (Performance Cycles; Cat. 2) 5pts
7 Jessica Finney (OnForm; Cat. 2) 4pts
8 Georgia Bullard First Junior (Jadan Weldtite-Vive le Velo; Cat. 2) 3pts
9 Olivia Bentley (Vision Innovative Leisure; Cat. 2) 2pts
10 Michelle Arthurs-Brennan (Norwood Paragon; Cat. 2) 1pt
11 Anneleen Bosma (Rapha CC; Cat. 2), 12 Illi Gardner (Veloflow CC; Cat. 2), 13 Mary Wilkinson (Yorkshire RC; Cat. 3), 14 Rebecca Steens (Velo Sport Jersey; Cat. 4), 15 Lucy Davies (Arctic Tacx; Cat. 2), 16 Agata Woznicka (Sunday Echappée; Cat. 3), 17 Lydia Watts (Team 22; Cat. 2), 18 Hannah Nicklin (Les Filles; Cat. 2), 19 Melinda Atkinson (Lovelo Squadra Donne; Cat. 3), 20 Jennie Tillott (GBCycles.co.uk; Cat. 2), 21 Jessica Woodworth (OnForm; Cat. 2), 22 Alison Lilley (Fenland Clarion; Cat. 2), 23 Emma Pickering (Dulwich Paragon; Cat. 3), 24 Karen Tostee (Hub Velo; Cat. 3), 25 Josie Griffin (OnForm; Cat. 2), 26 Maxine Filby (Cannondale Girls; Cat. 2), 27 Susan Freeburn (Les Filles; Cat. 2), 28 Charlotte Heywood-Mahé (Les Filles; Cat. 3), 29 Vivienne Tomlin (CC London; Cat. 2), 30 Jennifer Lake (Lovelo Squadra Donne; Cat. 2), 31 Francesca Cutts (CC London; Cat. 2), 32 Elizabeth McKie (Verulam-Reallymoving.com; Cat. 2), 33 Sam Fawcett (Lovelo Squadra Donne; Cat. 2), 34 Hannah Larbalestier (Boompods-EDCO-NRG; Cat. 2), 35 Victoria Strila (TW1 Racing; Cat. 2), 36 Helen Sharp (TwickenhamCC; Cat. 3), 37 Kate MacLeod (Twickenham CC; Cat. 3), 38 Annie McBain (Spokes BPC; Cat. 3), 39 Millie Citton (VC Londres; Cat.4)
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