Alice at the Tour Series

[Here are my experiences of the JHTGP. The other girls could give you a very different account of the race, what with actually being at the front, taking sprints points and finishing in the top ten. You’ll have to ask Jo and Lydia what it’s like. Meanwhile, this is what it was like for me 🙂 ]

The over-ambitious fourth cat. strikes again! Race numbers 7 and 8

Johnson Health Tech Grand Prix Series

Round One – Tuesday 22nd May – Oxford
Round Two – Tuesday 29th May – Peterborough
Round Three – Thursday 7th June – Colchester
Round Four – Tuesday 12th June – Woking
Round Five – Thursday 14th June – Stoke-on-Trent


Rd. One OXFORD

Photo: Larry Hickmott (http://www.velouk.net/)British Circuit Race Champion Hannah Barnes, World Champion Lucy Garner and previous series winner Helen Wyman are presented to the crowd

So after a few weeks of no riding (focussing on getting my dissertation submitted and a couple of other essays sorted) it was time to have a go at this bike racing malarky again! Race number 7 = the first round of the Johnson Health Tech Series that is being run in conjunction with the men’s Halfords Tour Series.

The JHTGP series is a bit of a step up – high-speed, televised, inner-city crit. racing – the highlight of the year for most teams and a great opportunity to increase coverage for women’s cycling in Britain. I was very excited to be lining up at the start next to teams like Node4, Matrix Fitness-Prendas, ForViored, Scott Contessa (etc) and with competitors such as the world champion Lucy Garner, national champion Hannah Barnes and the previous series winner Helen Wyman. Even more importantly I got to meet some more of my team mates (I still havent met them all 😥 !). Lydia, Jo and Elise were in Oxford too and ready to show the the city (and the country) what we’re made of.

Photo: Larry Hickmott (http://www.velouk.net/)Myself, Elise and Jo looking keen to get the race under way

After a beautiful day wandering around Oxford with Tom it was eventually time to get lycra-d up and attend the pre-race briefing (during which I found I had stuck my transponder on the wrong fork of my bike duh!). The temperature was as high as 28 degrees so we werent keen on going over the top on our warm up and risking getting dehydrated before the fun and games even began, so after a few laps to check out the corners we were ready to start.

The course itself was very tight and technical, with four almost 360 degree turns which called for aggressive sprinting out of each corner. The race had a neutral start – the whole bunch followed the motorbike around the course for a sighting lap – and then everything got a lot faster. With such experienced riders in the peleton I was very unsure of my ability so I let myself slip back until things had settled down a bit and I knew where I stood. Of course this is never a good decision, and the concertina effect of the tight turns soon meant I was a long way away from the front of the race. The repetitive sprinting out of corners soon also took its toll on me and I was soon alone or with stragglers I’d either caught or who were catching me.

Photo: Larry Hickmott (http://www.velouk.net/)

Photo: Larry Hickmott (http://www.velouk.net/)

Because the Oxford course was so tight, wherever you were you could always hear the loudspeakers. This meant you could be entertained by the various musical choices of the organisers, but also you could get updates on the race as the commentators excitedly told the crowd when to bang on the boards for sprint primes and the like. I really enjoyed being able to know what was happening elsewhere in the race, because although I had by now been lapped it was still nice to feel involved and it was great to hear the names of my team mates being shouted through the tannoy as they sprinted for the primes and went of in the winning breakaway.

Photo: Mark Hopkins

Photo: Mark Hopkins

When it came to four laps to go and lapped riders were asked to pull off I felt a mixture of relief that it was over but also disappointment that I had to stop already. Tom was waiting in the pits having nabbed the team manager pit pass and sorted out a corner for me to die in whilst we waited for the main race to finish. I did jump up to watch the final sprint for the line and saw Annie Simpson of Matrix Fitness-Prendas take the win, closely followed by Jo McRae of Look Mum who took fifth! Along with Lydia’s finish at eleventh this secured our team position as third in the series so far.

Photo: Larry Hickmott (http://www.velouk.net/ )
Annie Simpson (Matrix Fitness-Prendas) wins Round One

Excitement post race

Round One Individual Result

1)    Annie Simpson, Matrix Fitness – Prendas
2)    Hanna Barnes, Team Ibis Cycles
3)    Jo Tindley, VC St Raphael
4)    Corrine Hall, Node4 – Giordana Racing
5)    Jo McRae, Look Mum No Hands!
6)    Lucy Garner, Node4 – Giordana Racing
7)    Helen Wyman, Kona Factory Racing
8)    Tamina Oliver, Abergavenny Road Club
9)    Natalie Creswick, Mule Bar Girls
10)    Sarah Reynolds, Matrix Fitness – Prendas
11)    Lydia Boylan, Look Mum No Hands!
12)    Adele Carter, Team Hope Factory Racing
13)    Penny Rowson, Matrix Fitness – Prendas
14)    Adel Tyson-Bloor, VC St Raphael
15)    Amy Roberts, Scott Contessa Epic
16)    Harriet Owen, Node4 – Giordana Racing
17)    Louise Mahe, Mule Bar Girls
18)    Rachel Stokes, Zappi’s Cycling Club
19)    Alice Barnes, Twenty3c.co.uk – Orbea
20)    Laura Massey, Vivelo Bikes / Inverse Cyclaim RT

Round One Team Result

1)    Matrix Fitness – Prendas, 39pts
2)    Node4 – Giordana Racing, 37pts
3)    Look Mum No Hands!, 26pts
4)    VC St Raphael, 25pts
5)    Mule Bar Girls, 16pts
6)    Team Hope Factory Racing, 9pts
7)    Scott Contessa Epic, 6pts
8)    Zappi’s Cycling Club, 3pts
9)    Vivelo Bikes / Inverse Cyclaim RT, 1pt

Overall Team Standings, post-Round One

1)    Matrix Fitness – Prendas, 39pts
2)    Node4 – Giordana Racing, 37pts
3)    Look Mum No Hands!, 26pts
4)    VC St Raphael, 25pts
5)    Mule Bar Girls, 16pts
6)    Team Hope Factory Racing, 9pts
7)    Scott Contessa Epic, 6pts
8)    Zappi’s Cycling Club, 3pts
9)    Vivelo Bikes / Inverse Cyclaim RT, 1pt

Here’s a full report of the race on VeloUK ‘Clean Sweep for Annie’

More photos of Round One from Larry Hickmott

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Rd. Two PETERBOROUGH

A week later and its time for round two of the series. This time in Peterborough. Again the weather was lovely and warm and the slightly overcast sky cleared up in time for the race. After using the Peterborough Rugby club as changing facilities and having our race briefing it was time to get back into the city centre for a warm-up around the course before lining up for the start.

Photo: Larry Hickmott (http://www.velouk.net/)

This time the Look Mum No Hands! team consisted of Jo, Lydia, Helen and myself. The Peterborough course was much faster with sweeping bends, allowing a lot of speed to be carried through each turn. There was a slight drag on the dual carriageway section back up to the roundabout but it was nothing major, if anything this was the fastest section. There was a bit of ‘bouncy’ paving just after the first corner which I didn’t like so much – I kept feeling my back wheel come up :s

After the sighting lap behind the moto the race was off. Quite quickly the winning break was made by series (and sprints) leader Annie Simpson (Matrix Fitness-Prendas), Node4 rider Harriet Owen and Hannah Barnes (Team Ibis) who went off the front and put a very sizable gap into the chasing bunch.

Photo: Larry Hickmott (http://www.velouk.net/)

I was quickly defeated by the rapid pace being set at the front of the race but luckily got in a good group of girls to work with for the remainder of the race.

Photo: Larry Hickmott (http://www.velouk.net/)

Photo: Larry Hickmott (http://www.velouk.net/)

Despite some confusion as to when the final lap was and a nasty crash for Sarah Reynolds of Matrix-Prendas Lydia managed to stay upright (if you see the photos of the crash you’ll see it was a miracle) and came across the line in sixth. Look Mum retain third position in the team rankings!

Round Two Individual Result

1)    Harriet Owen, Node4 – Giordana Racing
2)    Annie Simpson, Matrix Fitness – Prendas
3)    Hannah Barnes, Team Ibis Cycles
4)    Lucy Garner, Node4 – Giordana Racing
5)    Amy Roberts, Scott Contessa Epic
6)    Lydia Boylan, Look Mum No Hands!
7)    Louise Mahe, Mule Bar Girls
8)    Emily Kay, Scott Contessa Epic
9)    Helen Wyman, Kona Factory Racing
10)    Corrine Hall, Node4 – Giordana Racing

Round Two Team Winners: Node4 – Giordana Racing

Overall Individual Standings, post Round Two

1)    Annie Simpson, Matrix Fitness – Prendas, 39pts
2)    Hannah Barnes, Team Ibis Cycles, 37pts
3)    Lucy Garner, Node4 – Giordana Racing, 32pts
4)    Corrine Hall, Node4 – Giordana Racing, 28pts
5)    Helen Wyman, Kona Factory Racing, 26pts
6)    Harriet Owen, Node4 – Giordana, 25pts
7)    Lydia Boylan, Look Mum No Hands, 25pts
8)    Amy Roberts, Scott Contessa Epic, 22pts
9)    Jo Tindley, VC St Raphael, 18pts
10)    Louise Mahe, Mule Bar Girls, 18pts

Overall Team Standings, post-Round Two

1)    Node4 – Giordana Racing, 85pts
2)    Matrix Fitness – Prendas, 69pts
3)    Look Mum No Hands!, 41pts
4)    Scott Contessa Epic, 40pts
5)    VC St Raphael, 32pts
6)    Mule Bar Girls, 30pts
7)    Abergavenny Road Club, 15pts
8)    Vivelo Bikes/Inverse/Cyclaim RT, 11pts
9)    Team Hope Factory Racing, 9pts
10)    WyndyMilla UK Youth, 6pts

Here’s a full report of the race on VeloUK ‘ Harriet Owen conquers Peterborough

More photos of Round Two from Larry Hickmott

Photo: Richard Bennett
Harriet Owen takes the individual win in Peterborough for Node4-Giordana

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Unfortunately that is the end of the tour series for me as I have final exams next week and afterwards I’ll be going to France with Tom for a couple of weeks in the sunshine.

I really enjoyed the experience of racing in the tour series – having the crowds, cameras and noise makes it really exciting! Although I didn’t do particularly well in the races I feel they were great experience and also loads of fun. As only my 7th and 8th races I’m still only at the very start of learning racing and I’m proud of how well I did. I am even more proud of my team who are really showing the big women’s teams how good we can be, even just as an amateur team. Go Honey Badgers!!

Maybe if I stopped doing races containing World Champions I might be able to become a third cat…..

Photo: Mark Hopkins

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