2017’s Rapha CC men’s race inspired not one but two new races this year using the same Strethall circuit – CC London’s superb women’s RR earlier in the year and, building on last year’s success, the new Rapha CC Women’s RR on the 12th of August…
Women’s cycling has developed enormously in the last decade with more riders than ever competing in a growing number of races. Only a few years back, a common complaint was that far too many of those races were crits and, crits offer many advantages to organisers as they’re much easier to put together and are spectator-friendly, there really were far too many and the sport needed change. That’s happened – road races are common now with at least one (and sometimes more) taking place almost every weekend throughout the season, which is great except… many are just too short, and riders aren’t going to bother traveling a couple of hundred kilometres there and back for a 50km race which is going to be over in less than a couple of hours. This one, at 97km, is a welcome change – and a challenging circuit with several reasonably tough climbs and descents as well as some beautiful countryside ensured it was never going to have any trouble attracting a decent field of riders.
As the race got under way and the peloton made its first ascent of the climb leading to the first crossing of the finish line, Les Filles team mates Nicole Oh, Helen McKay and Hannah Nicklin were prominent at the front, making NS wonder if the London-based team was going after a repeat of Oh’s spectacular (and first ever road race) victory at the VC Norwich race a few weeks back – sadly, mechanical problems for Nicklin saw her abandon relatively early. Sigma x Threo, who were on paper the strongest team in the race with four strong riders (Helen Ralston, Kerry Middleton, Mathilde Pauls and Liz Hughes) were next to go with Pauls going off the front for a superb solo breakaway which looked fantastic on camera (several pics of that in the gallery below!) and, when her advantage extended, must have begun to worry the chasing group. All three of her team mates are capable of winning a race such as this and the plan may well have been for Pauls to give their rivals a good hammering before another Sigma rider swooped in for a win, but this time it was not to be – and that was largely because locally-based Laura Massey (Torelli-Brother) and Aneleen Bosma (of organising club Rapha CC) were both out to win and had started their own race at the front of the peloton, which caused the average speed to creep ever upwards.
Massey, of course, has been one of the top roders on the UK women’s cycling scene for several years and has won several of the most prestigious events around including the Ryedale GP, the Banbury Star RR and the Curlew Cup as well as stages at the Tour of the Reservoir and the 3 Days of Bedford, and has experience racing against the very best riders in the world overseas. Bosma, meanwhile, seemed to appear like Athene full bedecked in battle armour towards the end of the 2017 season, then immediately marked herself out as one to watch with several superb performances in cyclocross over the winter. They are, in other words, two of the strongest riders around, and in this race they went head-to-head and traded blows for most of the distance, testing each other’s strength and daring one another to try an attack. Although that never happened, the two riders continued the cat-and-mouse all the way to within a few metres of the finish where Massey just – and it was only just – got the upper hand. Given a few more metres, it might well have gone in Bosma’s favour: Massey’s greater experience won out this time, but Bosma is most definitely a new force to be reckoned with in British women’s cycling.
1 Laura Massey (Torelli-Brother; Cat. 1) 30pts
2 Anneleen Bosma (Rapha CC; Cat. 1) 25pts
3 Helen Ralston (Sigma Sports x Threo; Cat. 2) 21pts
4 Francesca Cutts (CC London; Cat. 2) 17pts
5 Sophie Edmondson (5th Floor CC; Cat. 2) 14pts
6 Alex Clay (Loughborough Students; Cat. 2) 12pts
7 Emma Bentley (CC London; Cat. 2) 10pts
8 Gemma Melton (Pedal Power Ipswich; Cat. 2) 8pts
9 Kerry Middleton (Sigma Sports x Threo; Cat. 2) 7pts
10 Charlotte Colclough (Bianchi Dama; Cat. 2) 6pts
11 Nicole Oh (Les Filles; Cat. 2) 5pts
12 Mathilde Pauls (Sigma Sports x Threo; Cat. 1) 4pts
13 Helen McKay (Les Filles; Cat. 2) 3pts
14 Elizabeth Hughes (Sigma Sports x Threo; Cat. 1) 2pts
15 Sarah King (Bianchi Dama; Cat. 3) 1pt
16 Alison Lilley (Fenland Clarion; Cat. 2), 17 Clover Murray (Liv-AWOL; Cat. 2), 18 Isabel Darvill (VeloSchils – Interbike; Cat. 2), 19 Megan Panton (Project 51; Cat. 2), 20 Christine Robson (VC Londres; Elite), 21 Vivienne Tomlin (Rapha CC; Cat. 2), 22 Hannah Graveney (Liv-AWOL; Cat. 2),
DNF: Jennifer Andrews (CC Ashwell; Cat. 2), Rosina Digne-Malcolm (Velociposse; Cat. 3), Karina Kaufmann (CC London; Cat. 3), Hannah Nicklin (Les Filles; Cat. 2), Meghan O’Malley (Rapha CC; Cat. 3), Hannah Schneider (Rapha CC; Cat. 4), Josie Shepherd (Project 51; Cat. 2), Katie Ward (Peterborough CC; Cat. 3), Jane Wilson (Hitchin Nomads CC; Cat. 3),
Want even more photos…?
Oh, go on then – there’s another hundred or so right here.