My report of the race is focused upon the final 1497 metres, i.e. the last lap, as otherwise it was a usual Hillingdon 4th cat race with all break attempts being chased down fairly rapidly leading to a bunch finish.
With Will achieving his 3rd cat status last week, the duty of representing TCC fell to Vince and me. Our strategy was, once again, to stay in the top third of the field and to avoid trouble. The bunch was quite twitchy throughout the race which I think was due to the south south westerly wind that was particularly troublesome in the back and home straights. This meant that making progress down the side of the group on the straights was tricky and so riders were attempting to make up places through hairpins.
So back to the final 1497 metres – Vince was well placed in the top 10 as we commenced the final lap. I had lost ground during the previous lap and was stuck in the back third of the bunch. I had made a silly mistake of finding myself at the very front of the group, had slowed and then failed to hold a good position as the group came through. I was determined to find a route back through to the head of the field. I first tried to make up places on the inside of the right hand hairpin and force my was down the outside through the left hand rise. This tactic failed as I became swamped in a mass of riders trying the same move. So down the back straight I took up a position tight on the left hand kerb, out of the wind and probably sitting in 20th place, praying for a gap to open ahead of me. There was a strong acceleration through the left sweep into the final section to the finish and as the bunch shifted right through the first curve I sprinted into the gap ahead of me that was left in its wake. The inevitable happen; a touch of wheels, a snatch of brakes and two riders crumpled to the ground in the middle of the sprinting pack. The swerving bunch lurched left and I took to the grass, still on the drops, sprinting for all I was worth. Somehow I stayed upright, rejoined the tarmac and crossed the finish line in 9th place. Vince’s finish was affected by the crash. Fortunately he managed to avoid the mêlée directly ahead of him but this impeded his final sprint so he safely rolled across the line in 12th spot.
A note about the crash – Two riders were still down and receiving first aid when I completed the warm down lap and an ambulance soon arrived. On leaving it looked like a case of a damaged shoulder / collar bone for one rider and road rash for the other. I wish them a speedy recovery.