Round 1 of what will be an 8 round, 9 race Tour Series for women began in Redditch on Tuesday 9th May. With 13 teams of 5 riders taking to the start the series is more popular than ever and Storey Racing riders were up for getting stuck in and testing their legs on the challenging circuit in Redditch Town Centre. With glorious sunshine greeting the riders the scene was set for what was predicted to be a superb race and it didn’t disappoint.
Lining up in the red, white, blue and gold of the Storey colours were Jen George, Neah Evans, Monica Dew and Beth Crumpton along with guest rider for the series from Alex Dowsett’s Cyclism, Amber Joseph. A second year junior and strong in the track discipline, Amber is a bright talent and certainly slotted in to the team well with her fearless style of riding.
With 65 riders on the circuit it was a tricky first few laps and both Monica Dew and Beth Crumpton were impeded by crashing riders and those trying to squeeze through gaps that weren’t there. Monica spent much of the race chasing and never quite regained contact, whilst Beth subsequently had a bike change and ended up chasing as a result. With a new “no laps out” policy, any misfortune has to be taken on the chin.
Amber was initially part of the rider selection at the front of the race having made huge progress through struggling riders and she clung on to this fast pace for a number of laps before having to drop back to try and recover. It was a brilliant start for the 2nd year junior who gained great confidence from knowing she is more than capable of riding with the UK’s finest talent.
For Neah Evans and Jen George as the riders at the front of the race they were largely out numbered by the UCI professional teams of Drops and WNT who were able to use their numbers to an advantage. Alice Barnes of Drops used the first sprint lap as a springboard for a solo attack and this proved the be the race winning moved with the duo of Olympic Champions in Katie Archibald and Elinor Barker also attacking to try and close the gap but never getting the lone leader back in their sights.
Jen and Neah made some valiant attempts to bridge across to the chase group but were outnumbered and had to take their chance in what became a large bunch sprint after the peloton caught a group of lapped riders without about 200m to go to the finish.
Despite the bad luck the team were buoyant after the race, placing 6th in the team standings and knowing they had given their all and had safely navigated the first round. With plenty of things to change for the Stoke round on Thursday 11th May, the team are excited to get stuck in as the same quintet of riders.
Part of the excitement of the first round was also the opportunity to meet some of the crowdfunder supporters who had pledged generous amounts to help create additional opportunity for the riders during the year. Caroline Boulton of Holistic Life Sports Injury Clinic joined as a soigneur for the evening and will be back in the Stoke and Northwich rounds, whilst Ian Baggott of Community First Partnership was our photographer on the night. Additionally Red Kite Cycles, who have been of technical assistance during the first part of the year were on hand to give mechanical support and the family of team rider, Danni Khan, arrived with homemade curry for everyone to eat in the Camper after the race. Several members of the Boot Out Breast Cancer Cycling Club turned up to cheer loudly too, alongside parents and friends of riders.
It was a superb atmosphere around the circuit, added to by the support for the team and also having the opportunity to catch up with sponsors involved in the race or who have businesses close by to that location. Eisberg wine are sponsoring the sprints jersey, whilst Schwalbe and Boardman have their head office within easy reach of Redditch.
Stay tuned for updates from Round 2!