Cycling

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FOR a change the two big races last weekend didn’t necessitate local riders travelling huge distances.

Road race fans were content with the latest round of the CDNW road race league right on their doorstep with the Capernwray Road Race resulting in lots of local interest in both the 56 mile 3rd/4th category event and in the 75 mile elite/1st/2nd/3rd category event.

In the former the Lune RCC, Lancaster CC and the Biketreks Racing Team were all well represented. The hard Capernwray circuit starts on the Kirkby Lonsdale road near the Redwell and goes as far as Arkholme where a left turn by the pub takes the riders on an undulating lane which eventually reaches the Borwick Road at the foot of the main climb up past Capernwray Hall to Lord’s Lot Woods and back to the Kirkby Lonsdale Road.

With a climb like this each lap it is little wonder that races on this course seldom have large pelotons for very long with riders being shelled out from the back of the bunch leaving a small lead group and numerous small groups chasing, splitting and reforming.

On Sunday there was somewhat mixed fortunes for the local riders. From Biketreks John Dodgin and Nic Bertrand rode strongly with the leaders for the first couple of laps before joining the majority of the field chasing in small groups trying to rejoin an ever reducing main bunch.

On the third lap Nic had the misfortune to clip the rear wheel of another rider and ended up on the deck. A nasty case of road rash on his left hip ensued but thankfully his brand new Specialised team bike was unscathed apart from scuffed handlebar tape. He gamely remounted and chased for another few laps before finally calling it a day.

Dodgin meanwhile continued in a small group which gradually grew as they reeled in other riders dropped from the pack. Riding strongly up the main climb in the closing laps he was happy to finish in 17th place.

The sizeable team from the Lune RCC showed strength in numbers with five riders finishing in the top 20 – Sandy Lockett in sixth and Gary Vose ninth being their highest placed riders.

From Lancaster CC Graham Atkinson found the going tough and struggled to keep up with younger, lighter riders on the main climb but the revelation was Lancaster CC’s current hill climb champion Mike Wong who romped up the climb each lap to finish in an excellent seventh place, the race being won by John Hopkinson from the Ayre Valley RT.

The elite/1st/2nd/3rd category event attracted a quality field including a squad from Team Herbalife/Wheelbase, riders from Team Wallis CHH and many of the areas other sponsored riders.

An off colour Ashley Finn had to be content with 25th place but had the consolation of his Cycleprimier.com/Metaltek team-mate, Tom Barras, getting fourth place. Andrew Hawdon was the highest placed Herbalife/Wheelbase rider backed up by Dillon Byrne in 10th.

From Team Wallis, James Gullen and Callum Nicholson, who have both had a string of high places in SpoCo time trials already this year, were far from disgraced in their foray into bunch racing finishing in 15th and 16th place respectively.

It was Matt Cronshaw, riding in the colours of Team Raleigh but with no team-mates for support, who took the honours cresting the climb to Lord’s Lot Woods alone and crossing the finish line arms aloft.

Time trial riders had to travel slightly further for the big time trial of the weekend, possibly one of the most well known time trials in the UK, the Nelson Wheelers CC Circuit of the Dales on Sunday morning.

Starting just past 8.30am on the A65 just past Ingleton the early riders had to contend with the worst of the downpour which typically started just before they did.

The Lune’s Adrian Dalgleish, off at number 71 (9.41am), reports he “rode up to the finish outside White Scar Caves as a warm up and on the way back it didn’t seem too windy” but the heavy rain passed overhead sped by an increasingly strong breeze making a headwind back from Hawes.

With, in places, assistance from the breeze the riders found the early miles through Burton-in-Lonsdale to Greta Bridge and on to Kirkby Lonsdale quite fast and Adrian caught his minute man in about five miles.

Starting half an hour in front of Dalgleish, Lancaster’s Phil Shaw also felt he was going well as the first hard sections up the Lune Valley towards Sedbergh started to bite but Phil’s progress came to an abrupt halt just past Casterton when he fell victim to a puncture.

No such problems for Dalgleish who was still going strong at the top of the long climb out of Sedberg, covering the first 23.5 miles in 58 minutes – only four minutes slower than the winner. Next local riders to pass that point was Kent Valley’s Tim Bennett in 66 minutes and VannilaBikes.com’s Duncan Orme in 63 minutes.

The stretch from Sedberg to Hawes is always hard but it gets harder at the sharp right turn at Hawes, just over 36 miles, as the riders slowly climb to the highest point of the course at Newby Head six miles further on and over 600 feet higher.

Dalgleish reports: “I obviously know the roads fairly well, good local training roads, and I don’t think I’ve ever ridden that climb so slowly”. Once over the top the final seven miles are usually relatively easy but on Sunday riders soon found why the rain clouds had passed over so fast – the wind had built up significantly and they had to fight every mile to the finish.

The final result was Andy Wilkinson (Port Sunlight Whls) first with 2:05:00, nearly six minutes faster than second placed Simon Bridge (Leigh Premier RC). Adrian Dalgleish recorded 2:18:28 for 10th place in his first ever 50 mile TT. Duncan Orme was 19th with 2:24:26, seven minutes slower than last year, and Tim Bennett returned in 2:33:45.

The youth riders of Salt Ayre Cog Set, limited to racing on closed circuits, still had to travel for their busy weekend of competition starting on Saturday with the second round of the Dolan Series at Southport.

There was a smaller field than in week one for the under 16 category and in both the scratch race and the handicap Cog Set’s Matt Flynn and Fabio Close (Velocity 3-in-1) dominated the racing with Matt getting the better of Fabio in a two up sprint in the first race but having to cede to Fabio as he rode away to a solo win in the second event – Matt finishing a comfortable second.

The Cog Set had four riders in the 30 strong under 14s races and John Didsbury and Fabian Brennan were well placed coming into the final sprint. Fabian found his way through the pack, past track sprinter Tom Rotherham (Sport City), to win with John taking third place. Jonathon Wong and Caitlin Flynn again rode well with Jonathan taking 16th place, Caitlin 20th and third girl.

In the handicap race the first six riders from race one were started almost half a lap behind the rest of the field and with a few quick riders in the main bunch it proved too much of a task to reel them all in. Ryan Ellison (Eastlands Velo) took a solo win with team mate, Joel Partington, sprinting for second.

Fabian and John in the chasing group took sixth and seventh respectively while Jonny Wong maintained his consistent position finishing 17th with Caitlin improving to second girl, 24th overall.

Cog Set’s Adam Riley rode in the U12 races, his first year in this category, holding his position well among older more experienced riders to finish 11th and 12th in his two events. Finally in the U10 events Xavier Brennan finished a comfortable 11th in both races.

Sunday saw the Flynns and Brennans making the journey to Bristol for the first National race of the season. The younger riders enjoyed the best of the weather with Xavier Brennan finishing towards the back of a field of 18 in the U10 race.

The racing was delayed by a heavy rain shower which flooded the circuit for a while and left it damp and greasy, leading to a number of crashes.

Fabian Brennan qualified comfortably in fourth place in his heat in the U14 category. The final was shortened to 15 minutes plus three laps with a competitive bunch of 24 riders.

At the bell Fabian was around 15th in the bunch but found a gap taking him right up to the front. Losing ground in the back straight he finished in seventh place in the sprint which was won by Henry Dawson (Hillingdon Slipstreamers).

Caitlin Flynn rode well in her first national event, the U14 girls, maintaining her position comfortably in the middle of the pack she finished in 12th place, with Grace Garner (Leicester Road Club) taking the win.

Her older brother Matthew had a great start to his national race career qualifying in second place in his heat.

The final proved to be tougher, starting three hours late and only 30 minutes after the end of Matt’s heat; Matt was caught on the wrong side of a split after six laps, and having given everything he could coming into the final sprint, was just inside the top 20.

Next week sees the final round of the Dolan Series with a number of Cog Set riders well placed for prizes. The next national race will be another three weeks with a three stage race on the Isle of Man.