The three final rounds of the 8 round Tour Series, took place in the space of 9 days and the team created a team camp and Time Trial opportunity within this time frame too. It was a superb opportunity to spend some additional time together and the results speak for themselves.
Following race victory in Croydon in round 5, EJay Harris was ably backed by the team to claim the Eisberg Sprints jersey with maximum points on the night in Bath, this was followed by a 2nd and 3rd place at the end of the race for herself and Neah Evans, on a night where the technical circuit took it’s toll.
Following this race the team relocated themselves to the Lake District for a week in which they could minimise travel, maximise what turned out to be heatwave weather and also take in a couple of additional time trial events alongside the Motherwell round of the Tour Series.
Motherwell was first on the agenda and with Jen George still suffering the after effects of the crash in Croydon, the team lined up with EJay, Neah, Monica, Beth and Chanel. It was a testing round on a non-technical circuit, which started with Neah Evans being wiped out by two riders of the same team colliding as they accelerated in to the first corner and realised too late they needed to brake. The fast nature of the circuit meant that by the time she’d picked herself up the race was already halfway round the first lap. Monica Dew waited to bring her team mate back to the front, but despite making significant ground, Neah was struggling to shake off the effects of the crash and decided to call it a night.
EJay Harris stormed to another 4 points in the first sprint of the night but then was caught by a gap opening and struggled to regain her position due to the effort of the sprint and the heavy training load she’d been undertaking. Fortunately team mate Chanel Mason was able to jump out of the chase group behind and tow EJay back in to where Beth Crumpton was waiting to ensure she stayed in contention to score the team points on the finish line.
With the sprints jersey safe the riders returned to the Lake District to take stock and prepare for the final round 6 days on. During the Lake District camp it was a superb opportunity to begin preparations for the National Time Trial Championships and the team took in two Time Trial events hosted by Border City Wheelers.
The first was the club 10 on a simple out and back course, but the undulating nature of the route gave everyone the opportunity to test position, power protocol and pace judgement with the support of the team staff.
After a few days of amazing riding in the superb lanes by the accommodation, the team then tackled the penultimate round of the National Time Trial Series on a lumpy 14 mile course based out of the village of Greystoke to the west of Penrith.
The women’s field was stacked with talent, including Olympic Champion Katie Archibald and 2-time National Time Trial Champion, Hayley Simmonds. With Chanel Mason being the rider to sit out due to a heavy cold, the team consisted of Monica Dew, Beth Crumpton, Jen George, Neah Evans and EJay Harris. All five riders finished in the top 10 with EJay rounding out the podium for 3rd place behind Archibald and Simmonds who were 1st and 2nd respectively.
The final leg of the journey was to head down to Stevenage to tackle the 8th round of the Tour Series which also included a Team Time Trial event ahead of the circuit race. The team were motivated to finish the series on a high and rode a superb Team Time Trial despite losing Monica to an untimely puncture when she caught her wheel on debris on the circuit in the final corner of the race. Claiming 3rd spot behind the WNT and Breeze teams, everyone was delighted to have produced a strong and technically well constructed ride.
This result provided the perfect springboard for the final race, where EJay Harris needed two further points from the intermediate sprints in order to claim the Eisberg Sprints Jersey outright for the series.
The bowl shaped circuit of Stevenage meant the riders were lapping at around 75 seconds per lap and weaker riders were again shelled quickly and some lapped multiple times. It created testing circumstances for the peloton which was around 30 riders strong and it was ever more important to remain vigilant at the front so as not to get caught out by lapped riders trying to jump in to the group as they got caught. With OnForm, Breeze, Drops and Storey Racing all having a full team of five riders in the front group, it was unsurprising to see these four team dominating proceedings at the head of the race, with the WNT pair of Archibald and Gaby Shaw trying to dislodge Breeze for second spot on the team classification.
The intermediate sprints were the crucial focus for the Storey Racing and EJay was well placed throughout the race, moving in to position for the claxton which signified there would be a sprint the following time across the line. Comfortably winning the first sprint, which secured 5 points and therefore ensuring the jersey was secure, EJay went on to claim the second sprint for good measure making it 3 rounds of 8 where she has scored the maximum 10 points on the night. With the final standings showing 41 points for her win, to Drops Rebecca Durrell in 2nd with 22 points, it was a convincing victory over some very fast finishing riders.
By the finish the peloton were sprinting for team and individual glory and nothing was going to stop the Drops team from claiming victory after their disappointment 12 months ago at being beaten in the final round. WNT weren’t able to muscle the Team Breeze train out and had to settle for 3rd spot, with Storey Racing claiming 4th as the first team of non-professional riders.
With the circuit race season complete, attention now turns fully to the road and the next round of the National Road Series which heads to Melton Mowbray and the Cicle Classic on Sunday 4th June.