Sunday the fourteenth of May saw the Team MK women’s road race. Taking place on the 16.4km Astwood circuit, the riders set out from the HQ in Cranfield and headed for first of four full laps of the course proper giving a total race distance of around 68km.
With the riders on the undulating eastern end of the course, Alice Lethbridge (Lovelo Squadra Donne) led the way towards the finish line for the first time with Tina Hartwright (RT Fusion Fierlan) following her wheel, the diminutive Elspeth Grace (Kinetic Cycles / Welwyn Racing) on the inside and the remaining bunch all within twenty bike lengths.
Passing the start for the second time and heading towards Bourn End Fiona Redding (Radeon-Bike Science RT) raised the pace managing to get a three length lead over Lethbridge, who in turn had three lengths over the remnants of a bunch that was now stretched and fragmented in to smaller groups of riders trying to stay in touch. After passing the finish line with three laps to go, the race headed through Astwood and on to the A422 where the wind helped those still in touch with the leaders to consolidate into a much smaller lead group.
Heading towards the finish line and on towards Astwood for the penultimate lap Sophie-Jo Wylie-Morris (Team Backstedt/Hotchillee) attacked, the ever present Lethbridge responded, and the remaining bunch of around sixteen riders again became detached and stretched over some distance, but as on the previous lap the section along the A422 allowed the riders to re-group.
With the peloton heading up the finish hill towards the bell Redding and Wylie-Morris again applied the pressure moving a few lengths clear of Lethbridge and Hartwright and the rest of the lead group, but as on previous laps they were unable to get a decisive break and the group consolidated and set up for the uphill bunch sprint.
Descending the hill with a about 2km to the finish, the peloton remained together but then as the climb to the finish started Wylie-Morris, Redding and Lethbridge came to the fore with Hartwright and Grace amongst a second wave of riders attacking the final hill.
With fifty metres to go Redding and Wylie-Morris were level, Lethbridge had faded slightly in third and Hartwright was a couple of metres off the pace, then with thirty metres to the line Wylie-Morris had a clear lead over Redding and Hartwright. Finally Hartwright unleashed the full power of her sprint and with twenty metres remaining burst in to decisive lead over Wylie-Morris; at five metres the expressions on the riders’ faces gave away the fact the race was over. Crossing the line Hartwright had time for an emphatic one-arm celebration.
After the race NS spoke to Hartwright. “That was really good… it was very windy and unfortunately nobody could get away. Every single hill there was a push, but the bunch kept coming back together and I just managed to be in the right place for the sprint.”
Hartwright went on to explain a change of strategy that led to her first (non-closed circuit) road race win: “I was planning to attack with half a lap to go, but I could see from all the attacks going on all the way through that nothing was going to stick.”
A special mention must also be given to Jennifer Amy Lake of Lovelo Squadra Donne, and to independent rider Katie Ward. Jennifer’s rear gear cable snapped at the start, so she essentially rode the remaining 68km (including hills) on a fixie, yet still finished in 14th place. Katie was still on the circuit as the other riders headed back to the race HQ, but was smiling throughout the race and kept plugging away until she finished, just like she does in every race. A huge chapeau to both!
This was Michelle Arthurs-Brennan’s first road race – here’s her report
1 Tina Hartwright (Fusion RT/Fierlan; Cat. 2) 15pts
2 Sophie-Jo Wylie-Morris (Backstedt/Hotchillee; Cat. 3) 12pts
3 Fiona Redding (Radeon-Bike Science; Cat. 2) 10pts
4 Alice Lethbridge (Lovelo Squadra Donne; Cat. 2) 8pts
5 Michelle Arthurs-Brennan (Norwood Paragon; Cat. 2) 6pts
6 Jennifer Allum (PMR@Toachim House; Cat. 2) 5pts
7 Ingrid Matthews (Hitchin Nomads CC; Cat. 3) 4pts
8 Jennie Tillott (GB Cycles.co.uk; Cat. 2) 3pts
9 Hannah Graveney (Liv-AWOL; Cat. 3) 2pts
10 Danielle Forshaw (WyndyMilla; Cat. 3) 1pt
11 Elspeth Grace (Kinetic-Welwyn; Cat. 3), 12 Lisa Rogers (Team Milton Keynes; Cat. 2), 13 Julia Chatterton (Team Milton Keynes; Cat. 4), 14 Jennifer Lake (Lovelo Squadra Donne; Cat. 2), 15 Elizabeth Shirley (Team Milton Keynes; Cat. 2), 16 Elizabeth McKie (Verulam-reallymoving.com; Cat. 4), 17 Linda Dewhurst (Team Milton Keynes; Cat. 3), 18 Samantha Fawcett (Lovelo Squadra Donne; Cat. 2), 19 Charlotte Verrinder (Lovelo Squadra Donne; Cat. 2), 20 Amy Louden (Lovelo Squadra Donne; Cat. 3), 21 Olivia Bentley (Didcot Phoenix CC; Cat. 3), 22 Naomi Griffin (700CC; Cat. 4), 23 Gemma Hayes (East Grinstead CC; Cat. 2), 24 Catherine Jones (Hitchin Nomads CC; Cat. 4), 25 Zoe Allsop (Lovelo Squadra Donne; Cat. 3), 26 Caroline Dickens (Team Milton Keynes; Cat. 4), 27 Helen Bridgman (Kingston Wheelers; Cat. 4), 28 Nichola Turpin (Team Milton Keynes; Cat. 4), 29 Katie Ward (Cat. 4)
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