A massive thankyou too John Mullineaux at LondonCycleSport for the brilliant photos.
Second race of the season and a change of scene riding at Hillingdon, contrary to the name it is a very flat course, renown for strong turn outs, bunch sprints and unfortunately crashes. I rode to Hackney Central and got the train out to Acton before riding half an hour through Ealing Broadway and Southall too Hillingdon. The overground was pretty packed, first with Arsenal fans going the Emirates and then with England Rugby fans going to see the six nations, with England giving Italy a stuffing at Twickenham. I arrived with good time to the circuit, hoping to get a little time on the course, as I had not ridden it since last year. I was also pleased too be able to put my number on and change in the dry and warmth, Hillingdon has just had a new club house built and it is a great addition to the circuit.
I warmed up with Jake Martin, recently signed to the Premier Calendar/Tour Series team Le Col Pendragon. It was great too see him on a big team, he is a London based rider and will hopefully be doing some really big races this year. The race kicked off a little late as unfortunately a rider in the previous third category race had crashed badly and required hospital treatment with a suspected punctured lung. It was a stark reminder of how quickly things can get ugly and not a nice thing to happen to anyone.
Lined up at the start I had chosen to wear shorts and arm warmers with a light base layer on underneath my jersey, it was definitely the right decision as although it had started to hail in warm up the sun came out for a while during the race and I definitely would have been too warm. I had chosen to race at Hillingdon after the win at Hog Hill the previous week as the races are always fast and it replicated the track slightly more than racing at Hog Hill.
I attacked a lot during the race, especially at the start going away solo and covering the eventual winner Lewis Atkins attacks. After one attack I made the mistake of dropping my positioning ever so slightly and as I did a break went, it contained four very strong riders (Jake, Lewis Atkins of the Twenty3C Orbea team and two riders from the Sigma Sport team). They where all senior on bigger gears but I was still livid with myself for not making the break.
I spent the rest of the race attacking and getting in some very good training, my legs however where not feeling great after the strenuous testing the previous day so I was finding it a little hard to get away. However with three laps to go a break formed and I lead out the sprint for 5th place. A good start after not racing the circuit for a while, but I am after a win in an E12 at Hillingdon this year! (Big talk...)
P.s. Look at that beautiful bike!