Last year’s Velo Club Norwich women’s road race was open to E/1/2/3/4 riders and was won by Harriet Owen of Matrix-Vulpine (now Matrix Pro Cycling) after several tough laps with Hayley Simmonds (Velosport-Pasta Montegrappa) driving a high pace around the Great Cressingham parcours, while Tanya Griffiths (Starley-Primal) and Ellie Cadzow (then Bonito Squadra Corse) took second and third.
This year, with the race falling two days after the National TT Champs (which Simmonds won, incidentally) and a day before the National RR Championships, it was decided to make the race open only to Cat. 2/3/4 riders – making it a valuable opportunity for them to grab valuable points. Knowing it was therefore going to be an event worth seeing, Neutral Service schlepped the cameras down from Lincolnshire after the TT before going back up to see the fun on Michaelgate.
Several riders, working together despite the different team names on their jerseys, tried to split the bunch in 2014 but were unsuccessful. Ellie Cadzow, now riding for PMR@Toachim House attempted to do the same this time around by hammering through the first lap but sadly succeeded only in dropping herself – the hot conditions took their toll and she was forced to give up, but waited at the finish to show her support for the surviving riders. Positions changed back and forth for the remaining laps with several riders taking their turn on the front while a few riders dropped off the back, but it was impossible to say with any certainty who was a likely winner.
Owen, well respected as a clever rider and with the experience to match, was careful to save enough in the tank for the final uphill approach to the finish line and, once the pack had left the circuit, powered past Simmonds and the rest. 2015 winner Laura Cameron, with some assistance from London Phoenix team mates Petra Dolejsova and Aoife Doherty, used the same tactics to cross the line with several bike-lengths’ advantage. Doherty followed her for second, while Aprire-HSS rider Lucy Harper was third.