The Women’s Race
The women’s race started at 10am, so Jess and Lottie chose to drive up to York on the Friday night rather than have a 5am start and 3 hour drive pre-race on the Saturday. A course recce on the Saturday morning was rather eye-opening as it had a series of short, steep climbs ramping up to 18% at points. This was to be Lottie’s second ever road race (the first being BUCS RR in 2015), but Jess has a lot of road race experience spanning seven years and this was one of the hardest courses she’d seen. The plan was to stick in the bunch as long as possible and make a call at the end if they were still at the head of the race.
On the first lap (of four), the three strongest riders broke away on one of the climbs and were never to be see again. It was then a matter of survival as the bunch gradually whittled down over the next few laps. Jess wasn’t feeling on top form throughout the race, however Lottie was riding extremely well – the short steep climbs were rather similar to what she is used to at home in Cornwall. They were both in the chasing bunch of 13 women as they came into the final, and were looking to be two of the strongest left. Jess was really well positioned going into the final 500m, which headed up a 5-6% ramp into the village of Terrington. Like the Renshaw-Cavendish days of old, Lottie was in prime position on Jess’ wheel when she hit the front with about 200m to go. Lottie came flying over the top with about 100m to go and took the bunch sprint by over three bike lengths! Jess just got pipped on the line by a rider from Bristol, which meant Lottie finished 4th and Jess 6th overall. This was a truly fantastic result for them both, and especially for Lottie considering her inexperience, so it made the journey all the way up to York well worth it!
We’d like to say thank you to TRIBE for fuelling us for the BUCS Road Race this year #fuelledbytribe
The Men’s Race
After a drive and a train ride to York, a quick drive around the second half of the course showed our Fenland perspective had lead us to underestimate the difficulty of the course from the Strava profile, with a particularly viscous ~90 second effort up the 20% Bulmer Bank likely to prove the decisive feature. Add to that the fact that it was the first ever road race for Hal Bradbury (in at the deep end with a Nat B!) and first mass start race of the season for both John Mulvey and John Grenfell-Shaw meant we had to revise our expectations downwards from the recent TT success. The mixed ability nature of the field showed with a few crashes in the first few laps, which were also rather slow since with only 2 riders per institution (John G-S having got a place as a reserve) nobody was willing to set the pace on the front. Nevertheless, the bunch was whittled down on the climbs each lap as riders got spat off the back when the pace was on in a highly attractional race in which only about 20 riders finished from a field of 80. John G-S was dropped after 50km, and Hal was looking very comfortable until losing contact on the second last lap: a steep learning experience for a race of this length on a course that didn’t suit him. John Mulvey was last Cambridge rider standing, rolling in with what was left of the bunch after not having had the legs to go with the decisive move over the climb on the last lap.