The inaugural La Flèche Dangarsleigh was held on Saturday and by all accounts the new format, complete with hilltop finish was a raging success and likely to be repeated in 2018. Many thanks to Alex Thomas for putting the signs out, running the race and also somehow managing to get the camera at the start, the 15k turn and the finish – all with consumate ease! Here’s his take on the day…
There were 5 groups for the La Flèche Dangarsleigh handicap. Jacqui King and Michael Wooster started the afternoon with the next groups following at 6, 11, and 14 minutes with Scratch off 15. This was my first time as starter for handicaps so I learnt a bit from Swanny today as to how Scratch go about catching the groups in front ….
Swanny: “17 minutes (initial handicap) no f____ way, 16 it is”, and then a little later “Josh has moved up to 14 so in Scratch we’ll now start on 15”. Should I have been a little more assertive and told Swanny, politely, that this would not do?
Anyway, race underway and by the 15km turn there weren’t too many changes. Michael Wooster was about 30 seconds ahead of Jacqui but still shouted encouragement to her as they passed. The 6 and 11 minute groups were still on their own and intact whilst Scratch (they actually started at about 14:55) and the 14 minute group were close with a very suspicious Johnny quizzing me at the turn about Scratch staring behind by “1 minute only?”
For me it was now a car trip out to the finish at the top of the cutting punctuated by a brief stop just before the 15km mark at Cressbrook. Michael was still in front but his lead had been cut to about 1:30 by the 6 minute group which was now minus Dave Jenner but plus Jacquie.
With no other riders in sight I then had to hurry onto the finish with an open window shout to Michael on the way to let him know about his lead.
There is a great view from the finish at the top of the cutting with riders visible as they come to the bottom of the final hill and then not as they start the climb. Whilst still in sight Michael seemed to still hold a reasonable lead however when the riders came back into view at the top of the last hill this lead was down to about 5 seconds which, with a quick glance over his shoulder, Michael held; well done! From the rapidly approaching 6 minute bunch Chris Stace finished second with Carl Hooton, Ayllie Allen and Emily Wooster completing the top 5 and Isabella Hosking just behind finishing 6th. Not long after, the later groups arrived with Holly and Mick Harris crossing together and jointly claiming the fastest time.
Well done everyone and I hope your 19km bunch ride back to town was a fitting reward for a great afternoon.
Thanks Alex, and also to Bob Murison who helped out at the 7.5km turn. At the top of the Road Racer League Table, Chris Stace has opened up a bit of a gap, he’s sitting on 22pts, 7 clear of Captain Creagan in second spot with the hero of the day – Michael Wooster charging into the top 10 courtesy of his fine win.
|Place||Handicap||15K Split||Finish||Finish Split||Adjusted||Avg|
|HARRIS Holly||10||0:15:00||0:09:37||1:07:32||0:01:43||0:52:32||39.06 FT|