Race report – The Watford Velo Sport Cycleopedia Road Race

Today saw the inaugural Watford Velo Sport road race on the Toddington road race circuit. WVS team for the race was: Kevin Chandler, Daryll Green, James Kingsley, Dan Pells & Jamie Wimbourne. 
The race started off with a long neutralised section from the race HQ in Chalgrave down to Toddington and on to the course at Long Lane where it was duly kicked off heading in to the first climb after the tight descent of Long Lane. Straight away WVS sought to take control with Kevin & Dan showing their faces at the head of the pack with Lovelo Cinelli RT vying for position at the front. A strong attack came from the off by Adam Strudwick representing Team Milton Keynes, but a pack with fresh legs reeled him relatively quickly after his solo dig.
Heading in to the finish section hill for the first time saw the pack come alive as Josh Curtis of Lovelo put in a hard effort and pulled a gap on the bunch. He was able to maintain this gap for nearly 5 miles and it was a concerted effort from WVS’s Dan, Kevin, Will Macalpine from the Bike Loft and the 700CC to pull him back. This caused a lot of damage to the pack as gaps were forming with Josh being pulled back on the climb up Long Lane.
This then saw a well timed attack from Adam Sturdwick & Chris Tabrett from 700CC breaking away on the second lap. They were able to pull a good 20 second gap and again the pack had to react to bring them back in, in doing so this saw a lot of damage being done to the pack and a few more riders were being dropped on each descent of Long Lane and the subsequent climb and undulating nature of the course. 
Heading in to the third lap which was the prime saw another hard dig over the climb and a big fracturing of the pack with the strongest 10 to 15 riders creating gaps from the front to the rear and more riders getting shelled from the group, with Dan & Kevin at the front of the pack it was looking good for WVS as a strong group started to go clear.
Unfortunately heading through the fastest section of the course exiting Milton Bryan the leaders were reaching speeds of 50kmh and the race was neutralised due to horses being on the course, the sudden drop in speed from the front riders to the chasing riders saw a crash happen and as a result the hard work that the leaders consisting of WVS, Lovelo, Bike Loft, MK & 700CC was for nothing as the dropped riders were able to get a reprieve and get back in the race.
The race remained neutralised until the first climb on Park Lane and then resumed at a little more of a sedate pace with the main protagonists marshalling it. Pace increased in to the finish drag with Lovelo’s Will Holland and Dan Pells fighting for the prime over the steepest part of the climb, Dan just managed to pip Will to take the prestige of winning the prime.
At the end of the fourth lap saw another strong showing from Rob Fryer and Adam Sturdwick go clear and open up a 25 second gap. They were able to hold this gap for nearly the entire lap and the pack were struggling to bring them back with little cohesion. It was not until James Kinglsey come to the front and gave a hard dig down Long Lane and was able to chip off 5 seconds on the gap, with Dan, Kevin and a strong looking Will Macalpine working to take more time from the 2 man break. 
Entering the final few miles up to the finish the pack started to relent their chase as no one else come to the front to help out the tiring legs of the aforementioned 3 riders and being happy to settle for a fight for 3rd place. With a km to go Kevin kindly asked Will Macalpine to make a gap on his left for him to come through and try to entice the pack to chase his wheel and catch the break who was sitting ahead with around an 8 second gap. 
Kevin put a hard turn in and in doing so the pack could not hold his wheel but it had the desired effect and he closed down on the tiring Sturdwick & Fryer and latched on their back wheels, in doing so this took the fight from them and the pack finally reacted to the realisation that they were now fighting for a first place position. 
The strong hill finishers were already present at the front of the bunch and they swept up the two man break & an empty Kevin and diced it out for a hill sprint finish with Josh Curtis storming over and taking the lead on the steep section and holding it on the short flat part to the finish line with a good 3 bike lead. With Jack Steel-Jessop CC Luton coming in second, Will Holland for third and Dan Pells taking a fourth and in the process giving him the points to go up to Cat 2. 
Sadly Jamie Wimbourne was dicing with the front end but cramped going up the hill and saw him drop out of contention on the sprint. Daryll Green kept with the front end claiming an eleventh spot and a couple of points in the process with a solid performance.
The WVS Race Team would like to thank all those involved today. Thomas and Damien for organising the event which was absolutely perfect in doing their first road race. Also all those helped marshall, drive vehicles and make tea. None of this is possible without you guys volunteering your time and make us proud to race for such a fantastic club. Finally to the NEG escort and today’s commissarie’s from BC.
Last but not least the WVS jersey’s around the course and cheering us on is greatly appreciated and always helps to generates a few more watts in the legs!

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