Saturday marked the 2nd of the BUCS Cycling Championships, this one over a much longer distance of
25 miles. Although a similar style of event, 25 miles is a markedly different distance to race over than 10, requiring a much greater degree of self control and pacing, and having much more chance of things going wrong. It also incorporated the 70th edition of the Varsity match with Oxford.
Up for the honours were 12 men- 5 were returning from last year (Including all 3 of the Half Blues), and of the 7 new riders, 5 were freshers. With the fastest three from Cambridge earning Half Blues (and the opportunity to try for the discretionary Full at the National Championships later in the year), competition was almost more fierce between the Cambridge riders than with the other Universities! Although we were feeling pretty strong and were definitely the favourites after a dominant performance in the shorter 10 Mile Championships, a lot can go wrong in 25 miles.
Fresher Luke Fisher (Tit Hall) was the first to start in the whole competition- a somewhat unknown quantity having been absent from Cuppers, but he came through to take nearly 10 minutes off his PB, a very impressive feat. This laid down a good marker, so much so that it ended up being good enough for 12th, just 14 seconds outside of the top 10. Whilst Luke was riding, former CUCC President and BUCS Champion Ed Bradbury dropped by to support his brother, and later on the old Senior Treasurer of the club came along too to cheer us on!
The freshers times fell fairly close amongst each other- Ali Golby (1st year Jesus) slipped just oustide this mark by half a minute. Rob Walker (1st Year Pembroke) had shown huge promise, coming 2nd in Cuppers, winning the Freshers Race in freshers week and the (somewhat less prestigious) post formal town bike race up Castle Hill. His time of 55:28 later turned out to just about get him inside the top 10- a huge achievement in his first year of BUCS competition for the club and the best result by a Cambridge first year for 3 years! However, at the time, with the majority of the field still to ride we didn’t know that, and so this was just seen as a dangerously quick time to beat!
However, John Grenfell Shaw managed to find something special and put the freshers in their place. Belying his 5th place in Cuppers, and 22nd place in the 10 Champs, he managed to leapfrog the freshers and take 18 seconds off Robs time to maintain honour. Oliver Mytton, in his 4th Varsity for the Cycling Club, had experience on his side and it showed- he ended up doing 54:35 for the whole course to set the fastest time in the Competition to that point. He came through on the first lap that the man from Loughborough taking lap splits came over to ask who he was! By this point it was becoming apparent that the status as favourites was not misplaced, as the times of the freshers were still well up there-and no one was posting lap splits to beat them.
Oliver’s time was eventually beaten, and in a repeat of the fortnight earlier it fell to Harold Bradbury of Jesus, who put out exactly 54 minutes- the qualifying time for a Discretionary Blue. It soon became clear, turning attention back to the other Universities, that they didn’t particularly want a repeat of the fortnight before. Perhaps being better at the longer distance and tougher course a few of the familiar rivals turned out to be on just as good form. Jack O’Neill (Warwick- Silver in 2016) and Tom Ward (Loughborough, Bronze in 2014)- both came through faster than Bradbury. James Hayden (Brunel) , joint third for the 10, was faster still.
Cambridge Men’s Captain John Mulvey then took the start. Having had a bit of a hectic preparation
(puncturing his rear wheel twice warming up and having to borrow someone elses) he managed to put Cambridge back on top with a very impressive 52:31, and with not many people left to ride, he looked sure to be in the counting First team and indeed win.
Club President Seb Dickson was one of the last to start and came through the first lap a massive 30s faster than anyone else had been, however that turned out to more down to idiotic pacing- he slowed down drastically over the second lap and lost all of this time and more; he finished at a crawl but managed to just about beat James Hayden by 4s, settling for 2nd behind John Mulvey. Despite this, they couldn’t be happier with medals!
Back at the HQ it became clear just how much we had dominated proceedings.
John Mulvey – 1st
Seb Dickson – 2nd
Hal Bradbury -6th,
Oliver Mytton -7th,
John’ Grenfell-Shaw – 9th
Rob Walker -, 10th
Luke Fisher – 12th
Ali Golby – 14th
Chris Revell 18th
Jali Packer – 36th
Sean Irving – 73rd
Commiserations to Nick Grogan who punctured round the course so didn’t finish.
When the Overall team times were added up (based on fastest three times ), John, Seb and Hal counted
for the first team, and after their individual performances added the Team Gold.
However, with 6 inside the top 10, and no other University getting one we ended up with the cracking result that the Second Team were second. In fact, it was only the Once mighty Loughborough (who conquered all before them in 2016) who were capable of beating even our third team! No university has ever managed to do this well, ever, and we are slightly baffled by it ourselves!
With Oxford a creditable 6th overall (and their fastest rider in 15th), this meant that we had steamrollered them for Varsity, with all three of the mens teams coming in faster than their first team.
This meant that we won Varsity by 12 minutes, and the second team won their Trophy by virtue of beating everyone apart from our first team. Unfortunately, only the counting First Team of three get Half Blues, and this turned out to be the exact same trio as 2016- John Mulvey, Seb Dickson and Harold Bradbury, having all considerably upped their game from the year before, holding off the new intake. It might or might not be true that the stated aim for at least two of them was simply to go fast enough to stop a fresher getting a HB.
Oliver Mytton, rather guttingly, was the 4th man for Cambridge, made all the more worse by the realisation that he had been the 4th man for Cambridge in every single one of the 4 Varsity Matches he has competed in. With the way the quality of the team has increased, his placing in BUCS (7th) would have placed him 2nd in the Cambridge team the year before.
Its just unfortunate that the people in the second team had the bad luck of being at the same university as the people in the first team, as they are all performing at the top level!
With all but two riders staying around in next year, Cambridge’s dominance looks set to continue well into the future.
After their unexpected success at the BUCS 10 in Oxford, the Cambridge women were hopeful going into the 25, however they knew the Varsity match against Oxford was going to be tight. Of the five Cambridge women taking to the line, only Lottie (9th in 2016) and Emilie had any Varsity experience. After taking 6th place in Oxford, Jess panic-entered a 25 mile TT near home to get some sort of practice in before BUCS 25, which would be her second attempt at the distance. Hannah and Holly are both newcomers to the sport, with Cuppers back in March as their only race experience, so it was hard to predict how they would do over a much longer distance on a tough course. Emilie was first off and so had no-one to chase, but she gave it beans despite dislocating her shoulder only four weeks ago. Four minutes later, Jess set off and had passed her 2-minute-woman within 15 minutes. At number 18 was Holly, followed by Lottie at 25 and finally Hannah at 38. On their second laps, Jess and Lottie passed Emilie and Holly respectively, each shouting encouragement at each other to dig in for the final 20 minutes! The times came in live from Toby (who was camped out at the finish line for well over two hours!), and quick calculations were done to work out that the Varsity title was hanging on the last Oxford rider who had not yet finished. The final times and overall positions for the Cambridge and Oxford women were:
4th – Tamara Davenne, 1.01.47 (Ox)
5th – Jess Atkinson, 1.03.04
6th – Renee Haver, 1.04.01 (Ox)
10th – Lottie Mallin-Martin, 1.04.45
19th – Emilie Lostis, 1.08.00
21st – Hannah Evans, 1.08.30
25th – Lauren Kedar, 1.09.42 (Ox)
33rd – Holly Knox, 1.20.37
Back at the HQ, the Varsity time was calculated (on the combined time of the first three women) and it
was extremely gutting to lose by only 16 seconds over a combined time of 3hrs15. Despite this, spirits were high and we were very proud of how well everyone did considering the inexperience of the team and the rather last-minute assemblance of said team. Stand out ride of the day goes to Hannah Evans, who not only laid down a cracking time on a road bike with normal wheels and no skin-suit, but beat the third Oxford woman who had beaten Hannah in the boat race a few years back – revenge secured!
The full results sheet can be found here: BUCS 25 mile TT Results Sheet