Vericool Circuit of the Fens
Grand Prix Elite Series – National A. Road Race
Sunday July 27 near Peterborough, Cambridgeshire.
Results: Adam Blythe NFTO (1st), Chris Opie Rapha/Condor (2nd), and Russell Downing NFTO (3rd)
It was the day for the part timers to meet the pro’s, Nuun Sigma Sport London Race team were welcomed by the organisers of the Vericool Circuit of the Fens as a team of 4 Tony Lock, George Gori, Cam Fraser and Craig McLean, with Henry Peacock riding the support race. The organisation involved in putting on the Grand Prix Elite Racing series was impressive. Full town closure for the finishing circuit and an Army of police motorbikes and NEG riders providing rolling road closures and great support.
The 100+ riders gathered at race HQ to roll out to the start in the town centre of Whittlesey, where there were a few minutes pause to allow the crowd to enjoy the pre race excitement while basking in the 30 degree heat. Finally we were off winding our way out of the town centre, briefly pausing at a level train crossing, as soon as we hit the Fen Lands true it was hammer down and hang on for grim death. George and Tony were well positioned at the start and were towards the front as the pace wound up high, Craig and Cam found themselves mid pack slipping slowly backwards as the pace topped 40 mph or (60+ kmph) and that was on the flat! Craig ‘was a mistake only having a 53/12 but who’d have thought I’d be spinning out on the flat’, George ‘it was out of the saddle sprinting like a final lap of a town crit, and we still had 100 miles to go!’
Craig and Cam were spat out the back on lap one finding not only the pace hard to hold, but the constant changes in wind direction made for some great gutter riding. There were some early punctures and it gave us a appreciation of what it takes to get back on the pack after puncturing when the bunch is travelling at 35-40mph.
Meanwhile in the support race, Henry was travelling well towards the front of the pack. The pace quite high in the windy conditions and even with the same road police and NEG escorts as the elite race one of the riders who found themselves off the back of the cat 2/3 race crashed heavily into a stationary steam engine parked on the side of the road on the circuit. So after only 60km both races were stopped as the rider was airlifted to hospital, apparently still in critical condition and only kept alive but quick response by the local services. We wish him well in his recovery. http://m.bbc.co.uk/
The riders sat on the verge for over 90 minutes and it was close to being called off, but racing recommenced in a shortened format and it was ‘full gas’ once agin. After the restart, with heavy legs from part one of the race, George found the going a little too spicy for his liking leaving Tony to fight out the rest of the race. So over the gravel sections we went with punctures commonplace, the pace kept high and not until the last laps of the street circuit did a break get away, 11 riders with NFTO well represented. The final sprint saw Adam Blythe win easily and put end to quite the eventful day. Tony crossed over with the bunch a more than respectful effort given the calibre of the field and all the disruptions in the race.
Thanks to team member Chris Halls, who drove all the way from Devon to man the feed station and the the Lock family.