SYRT at the Castle Combe Road Race 19th of April 2019

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Suffolk Youth Race Team went down to Castle Combe for the Easter Friday Road Race. First race was the Under 8 Boys race and we had Callum Thompson representing the team; only 6 years old with 3 years left including this year in this category; it was a big ask to come anywhere other than last. As they started Callum clipped in quickly and took off down the start finish straight at quite a pace. As the field turned left into the pit exit and headed back up the hill, it was hard to see where the riders were placed due to the pit wall being between us and pit lane. The riders headed up past the last corner and back onto the start finish straight. To our shock Callum was in 3rd place with the field close in pursuit. Shouts out to Callum to change gear, but he was already there changing to top gear and sprinting down the straight. The other older lads closing in fast down the hill. Callum checked behind as we warned him of the closing peloton. He put his head down and pressed on. This happened for the 20 minutes of th e He put his head down and pressed on. This happened for the 20 minutes of the race with Callum obviously flying up the hill in the pit lane. The two riders who beat Callum were 8 year olds riding for ‘Cotswold Veldrijden’ and the very famous ‘Maindy Flyers’, the latter being the club of a number of Tour de France riders including one TdF winner. Callum was over the moon with his 3rd place and the £5 note he received as prize money.

Callum checking how close the chasers were
Post race bar of chocolate seemed to wear well…
Callum with the very friendly and nice officials

Next was the Under 8s Girls race. Suffolk Youth Race Team had Eva in the race on her new bike. Eva had a great start and was about 6th into the first corner. Eva powered up the pit lane overtaking her competitors as she went. Eva then had a ding-dong battle with a girl trying to take 4th place off Eva. Ever persisted and drove hard to keep her 4th place to the line. Eva was a little disappointed to be 4th, but considering the quality of the field, it was explained to her how well she had actually done. Its good for the youths to want to do well, it will drive them on in the future. Eva is now proud of her result, as are we. Great effort.

Eva at the Start line
Pre-race sighting lap for Eva in front and with her older sister
Eva (right) with her siblings and team mates

Last was the Under 10s race. Abbey represented the team in this race. Abbey has a history of winning road races, but on her birthday around 3 weeks ago, Abbey was involved in an two incidents in a road race in London, neither of them her mistake, with the second causing a fracture to her right arm. This race was her come back race. Abbey had been working on her indoor trainer for the three weeks she wasn’t allowed to ride. This keeps strength intact, but not aerobic capacity. There was also the psychological angle around commitment. Abbeys race had top quality riders in the field, with Orla Willis, ex-national champion and the top riders from the
‘Maindy Flyers’ Criterium League. The boys race started some 10-15 seconds before the race, so the ask to Abbey was to not focus on the girls, but see if she could close the 15 second gap and beat
the boys. Looking at the quality in the boys race, that wasn’t really feasible, but meant Abbey had to push for the whole race. The race was supposed to be 20 minutes long, but it felt more like 25 mins. Abbey had a protective sleeve over her fractured arm in case misfortune came along and she had a crash. There was a lot of concern as it wasn’t 4 weeks after the fracture.

As the whistle blew Abbey got a reasonably good start with the girls flying down to the first corner and almost getting past the last boy before the corner. As the girls rode up the pit lane they started to pass the tail of the boys race, but as the course narrowed and twisted around the back it became apparent the girls were losing time. As they came around the top corner, Abbey was in the lead with her friend and main rival over the years, Orla Willis, right on her wheel looking determined. Abbey pulled a two bike gap on the main straight to end lap one. The rest of the race was all about how many boys Abbey could catch before the end. Each lap Abbey over took at least one rider to get up to 2nd or 3rd overall by around 4 seconds, before she ran out of time. Abbey said she was more fatigued than normal which was understandable due to lack of training.

The event was really well organised with a very high quality field. If possible it will be an event we will look forward to next year.

Pre-race warm-up
U10 Grid
Abbey with Orla right o n her wheel, great to see the girls racing together
Last lap and long tiring race
Abbey (centre) with siblings
Abbey and Orla Willis hugging it out at the end of the race, both girls are great friends
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