Race Report: Tour of Cambridgeshire

On Sunday 3rd June, 6 ARCC members took part in the Tour of Cambridge. This is a 79 mile road race and sportive, all on closed roads. The race is a qualifier for the UCI world championships in Italy, with the top 25% in each age group qualifying for the finals.

In the race format, all the riders in their age group start together, with women and men starting separately, and it’s the 1st over the line that wins. The individual’s chip timing may give a different read out as not all the riders pass the start exactly on the same second. Also, you are not allowed to draft or ride with riders that are not in your age group starting pen. Motorbikes and cars on the road make sure the race cyclists do not get any help from or ride with other riders.

In the sportive format there are mixed sex and ages in all starting pens, and the time is taken from when you cross the start till when you pass the finish from your timing chip.
So in the sportive, you are looking to get the best draft you can from anyone, and try to get your best time. In the race it is more tactical, keeping an eye on the others in your peloton, watching for breakaways, and trying to keep the speed in the peloton to the best speed for yourself. There is a lead motorbike at the front of each race age group.
Medals are awarded to those in the race, but not the sportive.

There were 6 of us from ARCC competing.

In the race category there were:
Jonathan Williams, time 3.01.07,    62nd in age group
Michael Ing, time 3.03.14,      29th in age group.
Andrew Murphy, time 3.19.52,    112th in age group.
Caroline Whittaker, 3.41.59,    1st in age group.

In the sportive:
Lynda Kellam, time 3.38.31,   8th in age group,
Cathy Budd, time 4.11.03,      3rd in age group.

My race (by Caroline Whittaker)

My first ever road race. I’ve seen them on TV and heard a lot about crashes, so I was anxious; (I very very nearly went to waterperry with group 1 instead).  There were 2 age groups in my race pen, 50-54 and 55-59.
I thought that I could not win a sprint so my best tactic was to go out on my own from the start. This was totally wrong, especially for a flat course like Cambridge! Anyway, I worked hard off the front, riding solo for 37 miles, and was enjoying it just being me and the lead motorbike. Then the chain came off, and the peloton caught me. They would have caught me anyway. So I recovered for the next 37 miles in the peloton, chatting to other riders. And it was a good recovery time. In the middle of a peloton you hardly need to do anything, just sit there at 22mph. (Chairman’s note…..yes, quite Caroline!)

About 5 miles from the finish, when I was near the front, one woman swerved across the peloton, I have no idea why, and took out many riders further back. All I could hear were the crashing and screaming from behind. I heard the story in more detail after the race.

At 3 miles out I decided to go faster, and speed the peloton up, so I took the lead and the peloton spread out. Coming into the finish there was a sharp corner, where I slowed a bit and some passed me, and there were more crashes and screams from behind as one of my age group was pushed into the barrier by a girl in the age group below.

In the last 200m there were 2 women ahead of me, but I passed them both just before the line. The last part of the race was all just instinct, and watching the other riders, and sprinting as fast as you can go. The last 200m averaged about 30mph.

And what a boost of endorphins you get from doing a road race!! Still buzzing now. It is much safer in TT and triathlons with no drafting, but you don’t get the fun time in the peloton or the excitement of sprint finishes and breakaways.

Next decision is do I do the british road race champs? It’s on the same day as Ride London, and is in lancashire, but is hilly, so a breakaway might be more feasible, and I am comparatively stronger on hills. I’ll think about it.

Chairman’s note: I was living the race with you Caroline! Quite a tale, and congratulations to you and indeed all ARCC who competed. Well done. VW