|2016 didn't go to plan|
Derby has hosted the first round of the National Trophy for the last three years and has had a new feature added each year, this time it was a 60 metre sandpit that was rotovated before the start of each race. Its not a course that suits me, Flat, smooth and wide open corners meaning the speed stays high all race and it groups up more than a typical cross race. It is more similar to a criterium than a cross race (And there is a difference as any coach will know). This year there was rain on Saturday meaning the course was muddy and slippy for the morning races but had dried out for the elite races meaning I was running intermediate tires like the Challenge Grifo.
I was gridded 20th so was on the third row and got a good position on the inside edge of the track. The start was fast but I made quick work of getting up into the top ten before we got to the sandpit, I went tight to the outside of the sand knowing the majority of the riders would steer towards the centre line, I managed to ride the whole length of the sand while others were forced to dismount, coming past the pits for the second time I was up into the top 5 riders and once over the full 40cm boards I was up to third heading back towards the bridge and finish-line. Onto the Tarmac and I moved to the back of the group of 10 riders leading the race, knowing that I was riding a bit faster than I could hold for the full race.
|First lap chaos on the sand|
Yorben Van Tichelt put in the first big attack on the second lap and left our group chasing hard, I dropped from the group as I was already too far into the red. For the next three laps I rode with three other riders as we worked to try to close to some of the first lap group who were starting to struggle after their initial effort. Early on the fifth lap I put in an attack on one of the off camber, muddy sections as I could see two riders about 20 seconds ahead and I felt I could ride across to them. Encouraged by a supporter who notified me that the riders ahead were 10th and 11th I momentarily lost focus and cross rutted on an easy part of the track, I got caught up in the tape and panicked as I tried to not lose too much time. Unfortunately my rush did not help and I was passed by the group of three I had attacked and two other riders as I lost around 25 seconds.
After 9 laps/1 hour and one minute of racing I ended up 15th in Elites and 4th U23. I was 3 minutes off the winner, Ian Field and 2 minutes off the U23 winner. I'm a big believer in Performance based success instead of Results based and this weekend was most definitely a success. While I didn't make the U23 Podium which is my goal for one of the first three rounds to qualify for the Irish team going to the 2018 Cyclo-Cross World Championships in Valkenburg, I definitely performed at my best and despite one little mistake the whole weekend was flawless so I'm very optimistic heading to round two in Abergavenny on the 29th of October.