I went into the second to last National series of the year with high hopes of a good result. After missing a few of the mid season rounds due to races with GB and posting a mediocre top ten at the Tom Simpson, my first race back from Track Euros, it was time to pull my finger out!
The Bath course didn't seem to be particularly challenging, however its rolling nature became a wearing down process, sapping the legs and requiring you to press on almost all the time. The only real climb, still relatively small, came up to the finish line, ensuring anyone whose legs where hurting would get a real kicking in the finish sprint.
The race stayed together early on, with the usual early break failing to establish, however not without numerous attempts. After about two of the twenty kilometer laps, I broke away from with bunch in a five man move. It quickly established itself over the faster part of the course, building up a forty five second lead into the tougher rolling section of the lap. Just as I was settling in for the long hual, a motorbike official came up to tell us the gap had shrunk to twenty five seconds. We were on a long drag and as I looked over my shoulder I could see the rampaging bunch coming up to make the catch.
In the first move of the day.
With the gap down to twenty seconds I decided I didn't fancy having to try and escape the bunch again. I went solo, building up a steady advantage of forty seconds, however not pressing on too much. With about sixty kilometers left to race I kept it steady, riding in the hope a counter attack behind would sweep me up. However this didn't really materealise and after about 8 kilometers I was caught by the bunch.
At this point in the race I started to worry I had been a little to keen, taking it on too much and wasting good legs, however after a lap recovering in the bunch I was sharking to get in another move.
With just under two laps to go the bunch started to splinter, with a group of four riding clear. I knew this could be a good launch pad from which to launch a winning move and attacked hard up a really grippy slight drag. The bunch chased but I started to establish a lead and after a minute or so Alex Peters jumped across. We really started to press on, soon coming in sight of the break. A few big turns later and we joined up with the front four, sitting on at first to recover a little, before contributing to the effort to stay away.
The last lap came pretty quickly and with it some heavy legs. I was sure everyone was feeling the same and was wary to try and get in a move. With a set of team mates in the break I knew my best bet would be with one of them and so when Hugh Carthy attacked with 10km to go I jumped hard and got across, we hovered just off the front with a small lead, before pulling out a much larger one on a long exposed road as the group started to watch eachother.
Into the last five km and I was on the verge of cramping all up the calves, party due to the big day on the front and mostly I think due to this being my first road race in a few weeks. Hugh and I came into the climb, watching eachother a little with a fifteen seconds gap now in the bag, however I took the sprint, winning my second National series round of the year, hopefully the start of some good legs!
Next up is the European Road Selection camp, and then hopefully the race itself on the 11th of August!