With Redditch being the penultimate round of the 2014 Matrix Tour Series, Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours set out to put pressure on Series leader Eileen Roe and her Starley-Primal squad in preparation for the final showdown at Woking next week – they looked to have the Team trophy in the bag already with a 19-point advantage over Matrix-Vulpine (140 to 121) after Edinburgh, thanks to Katie Archibald’s two victories and a splendid performance by the rest of the team, but with Charline Joiner and Archibald only ten and fifteen points respectively behind Roe, clever tactics could still deliver them an overall Individual win too.
Hence Joiner, Storey and Horne’s efforts to make sure they kept a tight rein on the race, with a view to propelling Joiner into first place. With all three of them joining three others from different teams in a six-rider break that stayed well in front of Roe, it looked like their plans were working, though they’d have been well aware that they faced a serious challenge from Matrix-Vulpine’s Helen Wyman, wearing the green-and-white Sprint Leader jersey: one of the most experienced riders in the Series, Wyman’s explosive attacking power is well-known and well-respected – she frequently blasts into an early lead during her cyclo cross races, and has been European Champion twice and British Champion eight times as a result. Riding in treacherous mud has also given her supreme bike-handling skills: slippery tarmac holds fewer fears for a rider who has honed her expertise on the rain-soaked fields of Flanders.
Coming into the final corner, the race was Joiner and Wyman’s to win and as the pair exited the corner it looked very much as though Wyman had the power to take the lead. However, with roads left slippery by heavy rain, Joiner’s front wheel slid out and she crashed hard into the barriers – given a little more room to manoeuvre, Wyman might have avoided it, but being so close to Joiner as she prepared to try to slingshot past to the finish line she was unable to get by and also went down. Once the riders had helped one another up, Joiner ran with her bike to the line and was fifth; Wyman spent a second or two checking her machine to see if she could ride the remaining distance but, finding her chain dangling and chances of a podium finish already lost, walked into sixth place as Amy Roberts (Wiggle-Honda), Lydia Boylan (Velosport-Pasta Montegrappa), Storey and Horne shot past for the top four positions.
Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International, with four riders in the top ten, were declared the winning team for the fourth time in the Series – with their overall lead now at 51 points, they’d have to suffer a disaster at the final round to lose the top spot. Meanwhile, Roberts’ victory makes little difference to the overall Individual standings; she’s in tenth place with a disadavantage of 32 points to leader Roe, while Joiner is second with 61 and Wyman third with 50. Wyman leads the Sprint standings with 22 points to Archibald’s 20 and Louise Mahe of MulebarGirl-Sigma Sport’s 12. There is still plenty to play for; Woking is going to be an interesting race.
1 Amy Roberts (Wiggle-Honda)
2 Lydia Boylan (Velosport-Pasta Montegrappa)
3 Sarah Storey (Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International)
4 Ciara Horne (Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International)
5 Charline Joiner (Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International)
6 Helen Wyman (Matrix-Vulpine)
7 Annasley Park (RST)
8 Gabriella Shaw (Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International)
9 Tamiko Butler (WyndyMilla-Reynolds)
10 Katie Curtis (Starley-Primal)