On Sunday the 15th of April a high-calibre field gathered at Virginia Water in Surrey to honour the memory of the late Dave Peck – and also seized the opportunity to take the first points of this year’s Womens Team Series in a race where the main tactics employed were ‘Attack! Attack! Attack!’
After rolling out to the circuit proper and avoiding the early neutral zone crashes of the previous year, the flag dropped and the peloton set off on the first of the ten laps that made up the full race distance of 85km (53 miles). With riders from Cycle Team OnForm, Les Filles and hosts Twickenham CC leading the way at the head of the bunch the early break attempts on the first few laps were quickly reeled in. Fusion RT were the main protagonists, with two riders getting a lead of a few seconds before being caught; this was then followed by team mate Jenny Holden’s solo effort which saw her gain a forty second gap that allowed her to race back towards the chasing peloton on the Chobham Road. Once Holden was finally caught, another team mate was primed to make her bid for freedom, with Corrine Hall attacking and getting a gap of around 60 seconds – but, as had been the case with Holden, a lap later after the ascent of Staple Hill she’d pulled back to the bunch.
Following a relatively quiet lap, the race entered its latter stages and, on the penultimate lap, Charlotte Redden (OnForm) and Kerry Middleton (Sigma Sport Threo) were joined by Nicole Oh (Les Filles). Once they pushed the lead to 50 seconds as they took the bell, the break looked like it might have the legs to get to the finish. Having initially worked well together, the break started to falter on the final lap and with the peloton finally getting into gear the three leaders were caught and passed on the climb to the finish just four hundred metres from the chequered flag.
As the bunch came over the brow of the hill the podium places were effectively decided as soon as the sprint got under way with Anna Henderson (Cycle Team OnForm) holding a two-bike-length advantage over Laura Massey (Torrelli-Brother; guesting for Twickenham CC) with Abbi Dentus (Breeze; also guesting forTwickenham CC) a further two lengths back.
With the race completed, Neutral Service spoke to the Henderson about her win. “The team worked really well and I luckily managed to have it in a bunch sprint,” she told us. “It was the first time out as a team with a few new riders, we were working out what each other’s strengths were, playing it cool and seeing what everyone else’s tactics were and try and react… for a team series it was such hard racing, there was never a lull in the racing.”
Only days before, Henderson had been racing in the Brabantse Pijl where she got into a breakaway with a certain Marianne Vos – so of course we had to ask about that, too. “It was completely surreal. I was trying so hard not to ‘fan girl’ too much! It was so nice to be a part of the race instead of just hanging on,” she said. “I thought, I’m going to die, but I’m going to die in style next to Vos!”
1 Anna Henderson (OnForm; Cat. 1) 30pts
2 Laura Massey (Torelli-Brother; Cat. 1) 25pts
3 Abigail Dentus (Team Breeze; Cat. 1) 21pts
4 Jennifer Holden (Fusion-Veloperformance; Cat. 1) 17pts
5 Karla Boddy (Les Filles; Cat. 2) 14pts
6 Elizabeth Bennett (Jadan Weldtite-Vive le Velo; Cat. 2) 12pts
7 Elizabeth Hughes (CC London; Cat. 1) 10pts
8 Alicia Speake (OnForm; Elite) 8pts
9 Emma Lewis (Fusion-Veloperformance; Cat. 2) 7pts
10 Gabriella Nordin (TW1 Racing; Cat. 2) 6pts
11 Kerry Middleton (Sigma Sports x Threo; Cat. 2) 5pts
12 Bethany Taylor (Bianchi Dama; Cat. 2) 4pts
13 Leah Dixon (OnForm; Cat. 2) 3pts
14 Lucy Davies (Arctic Tacx RT; Cat. 2) 2pts
15 Anneleen Bosma (Rapha CC; Cat. 2) 1pt
16 Chloe Fraser (Racing Chance Foundation; Cat. 3), 17 Ione Johnson (OnForm), 18 Francesca Cutts (CC London; Cat. 2), 19 Olivia Bentley (Vision Innovative Leisure; Cat. 2), 20 Rosamund Bradbury (Sigma Sport; Cat. 2), 21 Bethan Stubbs (Bianchi Dama; Cat. 3), 22 Tamara Davenne (Vision Innovative Leisure; Cat. 1), 23 Melissa Brand (OnForm; Cat. 2), 24 Jennifer Hudson (Fusion-Veloperformance; Cat. 2), 25 Sarah Walker (Boompods-EDCO-NRG; Cat. 2), 26 Leah Ball (Successcycling.co.uk; Cat. 2), 27 Lauren Humphreys (Boompods-EDCO-NRG; Cat. 2), 28 Molly Patch (Fusion-Veloperformance; Cat. 2), 29 Catherine Coley (VC Londres; Cat. 1), 30 Victoria Lovett (YRDP; Cat. 1), 31 Nicole Oh(Les Filles; Cat. 2), 32 Yasmin Marks (Beeston CC; Cat. 2), 33 Danielle Shrosbree (CC London; Cat. 3), 34 Charlotte Redden (OnForm; Cat. 2), 35 Corrine Hall (Fusion-Veloperformance; Cat. 2), 36 Tina Hartwright (Dulwich Paragon; Cat. 2), 37 Melissa Baker (Empella Cyclo-Cross.com; Cat. 3), 38 Xan Crees (Empella Cyclo-Cross.Com; Cat. 2), 39 Georgina Panchaud (Bianchi Dama; Cat. 1), 40 Jessica Duffy (Bianchi Dama; Cat. 3), 41 Louise Moriarty (Les Filles; Cat. 2), 42 Victoria Strila (TW1 Racing; Cat. 2), 43 Claire Hammond (TW1 Racing; Cat. 1), 44 Rebecca Waters (Vision Innovative Leisure; Cat. 2), 45 Madeline Howden (Vision Innovative Leisure; Cat. 2), 46 Sarah Hickman (IRIS RT; Cat. 3), 47 Annie Mcbain (Spokes BPC; Cat. 3), 48 Jayne Paine (Les Filles; Cat. 2), 49 Hannah Nicklin (Les Filles; Cat. 2), 50 Emma Pickering (Dulwich Paragon; Cat. 3), 51 Danielle Forshaw (WyndyMilla; Cat. 3), 52 Chloe Weller (In Gear Quickvit CC; Cat. 2),
DNF Lizzy Campbell (IRIS RT; Cat. 2), Tracy Corbett (Les Filles; Cat. 2), Gabrielle Duckworth (Veloschils-Interbike; Cat. 2), Maddie Gammons (NJC-Biemme-Echelon; Cat. 1), Emily Meakin (Fusion-Veloperformance; Cat. 1), Natasha Reddy (Vision Innovative Leisure; Cat. 2), Vivienne Tomlin (CC London; Cat. 2), Agata Woznicka (Sunday Echappée; Cat. 3)