By Pan Pan Fan
Forty-two riders representing approximately eighteen local teams were greeted with warm weather and sunshine for the opening race of the London Women’s Cycle League at Hog Hill this past Saturday, March 24th. The winds near the flat stretches of the one-mile circuit were heavy, ambitious to tire out the legs and lungs of potential break-away riders.
As the race began, the pack eased into a steady pace for the first few laps, keeping everyone together. An attack from the start by Lisa Gunn of Team Wynda Milla UK Youth shed a few riders as she soloed ahead, only to be disappointed by a puncture and crash soon after. Luckily, her speed and quick-thinking got her safely out of the way of the nearing riders. Undeterred, Gunn took a lap out and returned to the race. Charlotte Easton of Look Mum No Hands RT (“LMNH”) also put in an attack on the hill and stayed off the front for over half a lap before Nicola Juniper of Corvida Allpress RT bridged the group to her.
Approximately twenty minutes through the hour-long circuit and after the first prime won by Francesca Morgan Sadler of Lee Valley Youth CC, Juniper put in an aggressive attack on the windy flat stretch of the course, immediately putting time between her and the peloton. Jo McRae of LMNH RT immediately spotted Juniper’s speed and jumped with her, with Astrid Wingler of London Phoenix CC courageously bridging the gap to join them. The three break-away riders flew away from the main group, working efficiently with one another. The pack struggled with organisation as teammates of Juniper and Boylan were controlling the pace while a few riders were ambitious on catching the break, whose gap was diminishing slowly.
Exhausted from the efforts of the break, McRae felt herself losing the other two as the peloton neared them on the hill. It was stroke of strategic brilliance that saved LMNH. As McRae lost Juniper’s wheel in front of her, Lydia Boylan of LMNH (last year’s LWCR’s leader), surged to catch the break of Juniper and Wingler, swapping places with McRae. With fresh legs from conserving strategically prior, Boylan helped Juniper and Wingler increase the time gap from the closely chasing pack from ten seconds, to twenty, to well over thirty. However, the early break-away efforts and windy back-stretch had taken a toll on Juniper and Wingler. With each lap, Boylan led the pace up the hill, surging just enough to force Juniper and Wingler into the red zone. Five laps to go, Boylan took a risky move and attacked on the hill, knowing that she was fresher than the other two and that her team mates would be controlling the chase of the bunch. Despite a lap of valiant chasing, first by Wingler and then by Juniper, Boylan increased her lead to a solo flier off the front. The peloton, meanwhile, resigned to letting the break-away stick, several teams frustrated with their chasing efforts.
In the end, neither Wingler nor Juniper were able to catch Boylan, who soloed off to a first place finish. Their sprint, however, was closely contested, with Wingler edging out Juniper by a tyre width. The pack finished with Jane McInnes of London Dynamo Prologue winning the field sprint for 4th place, Anna Grundy of LMNH RT coming in close second for 5th place, and Emily Barnes of Corvida Allpress RT next in an overall 6th place. Special congratulations go to Siobhan McNamara of Inverse RT for coming in as the 1st cat3/4 and an overall 8th place finish.
It was an exciting day for women’s racing, as the league saw a large number of starters and a dynamic race. We were all happy to leave with sore legs, participant badges, and a nice sun-tan for March.
1 Lydia Boylan Look Mum No Hands
2 Astrid Wingler London Phoenix
3 Nicola Juniper Corvida Allpress
4 Jane McInnes London Dynamo
5 Anna Grundy Look Mum No Hands
6 Emily Barnes Corvida Allpress
7 Bethany Hayward Welwyn Whlrs Youth A
8 Siobhan McNamara Inverse RT
9 Coralie Glaunes Pearson Cycles
10 Louise Fellingham London Dynamo
11 Jo McRae Look Mum No Hands
18 Elise Sherwell Look Mum No Hands
19 Helen McKay Look Mum No Hands
22 Charlotte Easton Look Mum No Hands
Many thanks to Eagle RC for organising the race and John M for the photos and video coverage.