As the team builds ever closer to the National Road Championships in the Isle of Man, the racing continues to come thick and fast with last weekend being a prime example. City centre criterium racing didn’t quite end with the Tour Series and the London Nocturne on Saturday 10th June was the location for the final criterium of a busy criterium season.
The date also coincided with Beth Crumpton’s birthday and the team were determined to make it a race to remember and give Beth a birthday party with a difference!
Having raced aggressively through the Tour Series to secure the Eisberg Sprints jersey for EJay Harris, the team had another aggressive strategy to split the race on the fast circuit near St Paul’s Cathedral. The race was also the first outing for new recruit, Lizzy Banks and with 7 on the start the strength in numbers was a card the team were keen to play.
Neah Evans set the race alight after a blistering start in which the Drops team tried to create a small break, rounding the corner to the pits on lap 3 with significant daylight to the rest of the field which was already split considerably at the rear with many riders suffering the speed of the opening laps. Through the first intermediate sprint the gap to the chasing groups yoyo-ed at around 15-30 seconds, but that was always enough to ensure she wasn’t visible for any part of the circuit except up the home straight.
Evans pushed on alone, with the team in the chase group doing a superb job of marshalling the attempts to bridge across. In the end it was the UCI team riders of Park of Drops and then Guarischi from Canyon SRAM, who managed to break free and joined Evans to form a trio up front.
The Storey Racing riders weren’t prepared for Evans to remain alone in the front, after her early efforts, so pushed on to close the move down and bring the field back together. In the process though the chasers got caught lapping riders who didn’t give way sufficiently to let the race through. Lizzy Banks was the biggest victim of this and when a lapped rider changed their line in the corner after the pits, Lizzy was wiped out. The damage to her KASK Infinity was so significant and everyone was grateful she’d been wearing such a well designed helmet.
The trio up front had just over a lap together before the splintered field, split by the crash, shut the group down and swelled the numbers at the front to six riders at first and then nine, which made for an exciting finish with two laps to go.
As the bell sounded, Beth Crumpton made a superb move to create some daylight, with both Harris and Evans marshalling the front of the bunch, but the other riders spotted the danger and shut the move down to ensure it was a nine up sprint for the victory. In the end it was Lucy Shaw of Drops who edged out Evans and Harris, but with Crumpton securing 9th and Monica Dew fighting her way back after being held up behind the crash she rounded out the team result with a superb 10th.
There’s no doubt Lizzy Banks would have been in the mix had she not suffered the crash, another race incident which again calls for race organisers and officials to look at how they deal with the issue of lapped riders. Normal operation is they are pulled with three laps to go, but many leading riders feel this is far too late, especially when those groups are quite sizeable. On short circuits some riders will be lapped multiple times and it begs the question why riders lapped for a 2nd time aren’t pulled immediately. There could also be the option of installing a time gap as happens in road races, so that riders and more importantly large groups of riders that are showing no sign of getting back in the race are pulled out before they become a danger to the front of the race.
Whatever the solution the bottom line is that riders who are dropped need to show more awareness of the race and be respectful of the riders still racing for the win. Moving over and not trying to jump in on a faster wheel are all part of basic race etiquette.
The team’s success on the night was cheered on by multiple members of the Boot Out Breast Cancer Cycling Club who were in the crowd and some even competing in other events during the course of the evening. The cycling club is the sister team of the Storey Racing team, founded in 2016 to give everyday cyclists the chance to get closer to the action of an elite racing team and also as an added development arm for budding female cyclists. They, along with the team riders were rewarded with a champagne shower before a fast get away to ensure Storey Racing riders could get as much sleep as possible prior to the final round of the National Time Trial Series near Bedford the following day.
With seven riders on the start it was an exciting opportunity to put in a final big Time Trial effort at National level prior to the National Time Trial Championships which start on June 22nd at 1pm in Douglas, Isle of Man.
With strong winds the conditions were ideal for what the riders might face at Nationals and the bright sunshine a welcome change after what had been a relatively miserable week in training. Chanel Mason struck out first over the two laps and 20 miles and recorded a solid performance which shows she’s coming back to her best again after the chest infection that has still been lingering. It was EJay Harris who secured the podium spot with 3rd place behind TT specialists Hayley Simmonds and Alice Lethbridge. All the riders performed superbly given the efforts of the previous evening.
With the event being the final round of the series, the final points were calculated and the team efforts rewarded with 5 riders finishing in the top 10. EJay Harris 2nd to 2015 and 2016 National Time Trial Champion Hayley Simmonds, Lizzy Banks joint 3rd, Jen George 5th, last year’s Junior Women’s Champion Monica Dew in 7th and perhaps more known for her off-road prowess, Beth Crumpton showing her multi-talents with an 8th place finish overall.
The team compete at Curlew Cup next weekend before transferring to the Isle of Man for the National Road Championships.[huge thanks to Andy Gerrie of BOBC Cycling Club for the lead picture in this article]