NEAR perfect conditions greeted the 79 starters of the inaugural GS Henley Road Race for third and fourth category riders,
NEAR perfect conditions greeted the 79 starters of the inaugural GS Henley Road Race for third and fourth category riders, held on the 54-mile (87km) Drift Road circuit near Maidenhead.
The new fixture proved popular and was oversubscribed weeks before the race.
The first break happened within the first half lap and it seemed that an organised group of five riders might make something of it as they worked well to open a reasonable gap of 20 seconds. The fast flowing course didn’t allow them to get away though, and the peloton’s average speed of 25mph saw them reeled back in on the fast spin down to the Drift Road turn.
The pace remained high as the peloton shed riders out the back and attacks went off the front, the most audacious being a solo effort by Roger Prior of Zappi’s CC who looked like he was gradually pulling away, having opened a 28-second gap on his own. Having stayed out for around 20 minutes he gradually tired and was swallowed back into the bunch, which had woken up and had started to chase him down.
The peloton came together again and the pace lifted further for the run in to the finish line, a long straight into wind with a gradual incline. The sight of the finish flags proved irresistible for some and the sprint wound up from more than 500 metres out. In the end it was Riko Sibbe of London Dynamo who took the first spot, followed closely by Tom Baskaya (Finsbury Park) and Simon Cox (Climb on Bikes).
Top-placed GS Henley rider James Archibald was in the thick of the action, driving the pace at the front of the peloton and monitoring the breaks to ensure they didn’t get too far away. It proved to be a fruitless endeavour though as he finished in 29th place.
Elsewhere GS Henley rider Dave Olinski retired in the last lap having cramped badly after a huge pull on the front, and club-mate Matt Tolhurst battled round the course to finish his first ever race in the autobus, the group of back markers that forms in every race. In-form Hamish Floyd never got the chance to show his talent after a broken spoke forced him to abandon on lap one.