Photo credits to Shawn Ryan (http://photographer.shawn-ryan.co.uk) & ‘Ciclissimo!’ unless otherwise stated.The race endlessly criss-crosses around and through the villages of Somerby and Owston, the pack crashing into view from any given direction like a crazed Chinese Dragon in what seems to be an attempt to out-manoeuvre race chasers and soigneurs. The overhanging, blossoming arbour of the previously sleepy rural scene only serves to amplify the tumult within the narrow dirt track sectors as the race absorbs it into its wrath
AP Sports Photography (@apsportsphoto)
The School of hard-knocks had one more lesson that day for Tanzou after the mid-point time cut had claimed him: Trying to find your way back to the team vehicles from a tiny village in the middle of fields in a country you don’t know and whose language is new to you. I tried to call Andrew, the team Soigneur, but there was no signal. Tanzou decided to set off in search of Oakham, tagging along with BRC’s Joe & Ed who’d left their car there at the start. I hear Tanzou made it back to the team eventually..AP Sports Photography (@apsportsphoto)
The rider’s faces were studies in intense, desperate concentration as they hurtled full gas through the sectors, necks straining and torsos contorting to gain a split second’s more knowledge of the shifting, spitting surface. The rocks and debris ricocheted around the charging pack, sounding like the crack of bullets against the deep section rims, peppering my shins and the team car side panels as last ditch chasers swarmed and fish-tailed through the destruction derby convoy. He who blinked first was lost to the race..
Madison -Genesis were dominant throughout, Tom Stewart seemingly floating as he forced the pace on his beloved dirt packed terrain..punctures saw them thwarted towards the end, however- like many. Ah well, at least they had Tom’s body weight in Prime Sprint prize beer to cushion the blow..
I took this right turn off the surfaced road here when I first arrived, seeing the advertising hoardings. I walked 20m further on and paused and nearly turned back, thinking I was merely heading into a race traffic parking area as they couldn’t possibly take a bike race along this scree field.. I was wrong.
The soigneurs spent the day engaged in a lottery game of check-mate with punctures, constantly grabbing clutches of wheels and darting off through the lanes and sectors to try and outwit the rocks, pinch-flats and flints that lay gleefully in wait everytime the race dove into the chaos of the ribinou. Finding the right road-side position was needle in haystack stuff.. At the finish I overheard one swanny relaying to one of his rubble encrusted charges how much easier than expected the day had been, with not one spare wheel being required from him- through gulped breaths the rider informed him that he himself had needed four. Joyce Jason Ghijs of CCT p/b Champion Systems;“..so far we punctured only once during road races this season. As of yesterday, it rose by 7….”
‘Ciclissimo!’ photographer, Shawn, and I missed the Money Shot by about 30 seconds, arriving at the finish line to find the riders slumped over bars and peeling off helmets from above filth covered, drained faces. Steele Von Hoff thought he had done likewise as he sprinted for what he believed was 5th place- until he was soon informed he had just taken the win..Photo; Ciclissimo!