Ian and I arrived a good couple of hours early after, despite taking a couple of wrong turns... We took this opportunity of arriving early to take a look around the track. It wasn't quite as wide or large as the circuit at Castle Combe but it was certainly more technical and interesting.
Sign on was quick as we had pre-booked (I recommend doing it this way) and we got our race numbers; one to go on the back and another for the left hand side of our jerseys.
Soon after we got changed into our race gear and went for a little warm up, up and down the road outside the track. Back at the van whilst fetching some more water Matt rocked up fashionably late in his skin-suit and rushed off to sign on. We headed towards the track and saw people were getting some laps in before the race, we decided it was warm enough to go without leg or arm warmers so quickly ditched the extra clothing back at the van. This was the first time in the year I've had the guns on display so they were a bit bristly. We all then managed to get a few laps warm up before the start of the race.
The race was to run anti-clockwise, as it runs alternatively each week. This meant the finish had a shorter stretch than had it been running clockwise with a crosswind running into the finish. The race commissaire cleared up some confusion in my mind about the race format by informing us that it was to last 40 minutes plus 5 laps. I remembered to re-set my cycling computer this time to keep an eye on the time, but in the end I didn't pay much attention to it.
Having previously watched some fast and furious crit' racing on YouTube, a while back, I was a little concerned that it would be absolutely hectic with riders taking extreme risks bombing through corners and flying all over the place. The race went on without a hitch however with only the usual shouting when things got compact. Going around the switchbacks had to be the lowest I've ever cornered on a bike and it felt awesome! It amazed me how low I was able to go around the corners and especially how low you could go pedaling without the pedals making contact with the ground.
I stayed within the pack for most of the race avoiding hitting the front. I had no distinct race plan set, deciding to see how things un-folded and to go from there. 30 minutes in and Ian put a massive effort hitting the front on the uphill stretch and a few riders on the front upped the pace, whether they were trying to bring it back or bridge the gap was unclear. I jumped on making sure I wasn't dragging the peloton up to the break. Soon after and unfortunately for Ian the field was brought back together.
Matt was next to have a shot at attacking with 10 minutes to go. He put in a strong effort and stayed clear solo for a good many laps. I sat in the bunch making sure I didn't hit the front as not to chase my own team-mate down, but in a good position to ensure I could still stand a good chance in the sprint. 5 laps to go and I was next to convinced that Matt was going to make it to a close solo victory. A few riders from London Dynamo then hit the front and put in some hard turns on the front to close the gap. I jostled for position gearing up for an inevitable sprint finish. It’s so easy to get swamped so I was constantly battling to get onto the line that was moving up on the outside of the group.
The last corners before the finishing straight reduced the number of riders at the front slightly. I moved around a few more riders and onto the finishing straight. I saw to the left of me a rider sprinting into the headwind, I hesitated in taking shelter behind him but I am glad I did as it then seemed a long way to the finish. Coming towards the line I began my sprint and came around the rider just to edge myself to victory across the finish line.
Matt somehow managed to dig deep kicking again for the sprint after only recently being out in a solo break for a good many laps to take 3rd place - kudos for that effort. Ian came in very shortly after, finishing approximately in a top 10 position.
All in all a good day out and a great day’s racing for the team.