Remember a couple of years ago when British Cycling tried to get the women’s race at the Smithfield Nocturne cancelled so that the riders wouldn’t be too tired to attend another race the next day? Well, some of the riders on Britain’s domestic racing circuit proved on Tuesday just how good they are (and that British Cycling’s concerns were unnecessary) when they met in Stoke-on-Trent to race the first round of the Matrix Fitness Grand Prix Series just 48 hours after finishing the Women’s Tour, a major five-day tour in which they covered nearly 500km. “I felt alright after about one minute,” Helen Wyman (45th overall at the Women’s Tour) told Neutral Service after the race.
The first laps passed relatively uneventfully, with various riders trying but failing to get off the front in an attempt to be in pole position for the first intermediate sprint at the end of the fifth lap as Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International team mates Katie Archibald (41st at the Women’s Tour) and Sarah Storey selected a high gear. It was Archibald that won the sprint; then she cranked the race up another notch, putting a gap between herself and a group of around half the 53 starters able to stay with her. It wasn’t long before some of those riders found the Scotswoman’s pace too much and the group split up as a result – within 20 minutes, the leaders had begun lapping the slower riders at the back, and by the time she won the second sprint solo with a decent lead over Louise Mahe (Mule Bar Girl-Sigma Sport) it was clear she’d be the winner.
Women’s cycling is a highly competitive sport, however, and Archibald’s rivals weren’t going to roll over and let her have everything her own way: Eileen Roe of Starley-Primal ProCycling and Jessie Walker of Matrix-Vulpine (54th at the Women’s Tour) teamed up to give chase, with Storey going with them to keep an eye on proceedings and chase second place. Archibald is a phenomenal rider, even without taking into consideration the facts that she’s still only 20 years old and has been cycling for less than three years (which raises the question – what’s she going to be like in seven or eight years?); although Roe and Walker are both very talented riders (Walker proved herself able to cut it with the best in the world when she came 18th on the first stage at the Women’s Tour, recording the same time as Emma Johansson and Marianne Vos), Archibald simply could not be stopped – indeed, by the time she finished, she was so far ahead that she was close to lapping them too. Roe and Storey followed Walker into the final corner before whipping out from behind and accelerating to grab second and third.
Round 2 takes place in Peterborough on the 20th of May. Round 3 is in Edinburgh on the 29th of May; Round 4 moves to Redditch for the 3rd of June and Round 5 completes the series in Woking on the 10th of June. More details here.
Matrix GP Series Round 1 Top Ten
1 Katie Archibald (Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International)
2 Eileen Roe (Starley-Primal)
3 Sarah Storey (Pearl Izumi-Sports Tour International)
4 Natalie Creswick (MuleBar Girl-Sigma Sport)
5 Helen Wyman (Matrix-Vulpine)
6 Jessie Walker (Matrix-Vulpine)
7 Katie Curtis (Starley-Primal)
8 Charline Joiner (Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International
9 Louise Mahe (MuleBar Girl-Sigma Sport)
10 Amy Roberts (Wiggle-Honda)