It’s been a month already since the start of the 2014 Matrix GP Series, which sadly means that the round taking place in Woking on the 10th of June is the final one of the year. It’ll be a good one, though: this is the sixth time Woking has hosted a round, and as one of the most technical circuits in the series with its four fast bends and one very tight hairpin, there’s plenty of opportunity for excitement.
What’s more, there’s just three points between overall leader Eileen Roe (Starley-Primal) and second-placed Charline Joiner, whose Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International squad have been declared winning team in every round so far – they’ll want to make it five out of five, and Roe and Joiner will be fighting hard for supremacy. Nothing has yet been decided in the Sprints competition, either: Helen Wyman, who won the Series in 2011, leads with 22 points; Katie Archibald, who won two rounds of the current Series in spectacular and dominant style, is on 20. Spectator information, results from previous rounds and overall standings can be found on the official website, and we’ll have a report as soon as possible after the race.
The circuit is mostly flat, with only around 10m of vertical gain spread across each lap – the largest climb is 6m and comes in the first 0.2km, giving an average gradient of merely 3%.
Having what should be a fast start on Victoria Way (A320), the riders pass under the railway. As is often the case in underpasses, oily rainwater tends to collect here; the road under the tracks is straight, but if it’s been raining they may need to take some care going into the first left-hand bend by Evans Cycles just beyond the underpass. As they reach the end of the bend, they turn sharply right at the vet’s surgery where a potentially slippery drain cover lies right in the middle of the optimum racing line around the turn to take Station Approach and a straight section of 100m. After it, a fast and slightly downhill bend sweeps right and back onto the A320 to once again pass under the railway.
Immediately after emerging back into daylight, the riders turn left onto Goldsworth Road; 90m from the turn, by the glass-fronted Jobcentre, the road narrows; riders on the left of the peloton may feel the squeeze. 185m from the turn, they arrive at a roundabout and turn sharply right – the turn is almost tight enough to be a hairpin, and there are several drain covers at the end of Goldsworth Road and some painted road marking at the beginning of Church St West to avoid if the parcours is wet. Churst St West continues straight for 150m, ending with a 90 degree left turn to rejoin the A320; though the turn is sharp, the road is wide and there’s plenty of room before and after it.
For the next 140m, the A320 bends slightly right until the race arrives at a yellow box junction marking the hairpin – in the later laps, this provides a chance for lone riders or small groups to grab a few more seconds advantage over the peloton which will not be able to negotiate the turn quite as quickly. Now continuing back along the A320, the riders follow the road as it bends slightly left and, by the grey multi-storey carpark on the left, enter the 150m straight leading to the finish line.