Write-up by Tom McLaren and Ben O’Dell from ELV
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The 2/3 race began with a decent sized field, 44 serious competitors taking to the line. Not only were the bragging rights of today’s race at stake, but being the last week of the Series, the overall honours and a prize pot totalling £450 was up for grabs.
The race was the decider between Gunther Zechmann (London Phoenix)and Edmond Bradbury (Cambridge Uni CC). Zechmann took a a great win in week 1, riding on junior gears after a puncture induced wheel change, and lapped the field in week 2, but Bradbury had won 3 races himself. Given Zechmann’s 6th place last week, going into the series decider the gap between them was only two points. Zechmann knew he had to better Bradbury’s result to win the series.
The 2/3 course was run on the same reverse loop as the 4th cats before them, except using the alpine chicane section of the course right before the finish. The riders rolled off the start line in fair weather conditions, but as with the 4th cats they didn’t last long.
From the off, it was clear that this was the business end of the series. As they crossed the finish line on the first lap the pace was serious, despite which Bradbury decided now would be a good time to ramp up the pressure on Zechmann and kicked off the front, chasing Lewis Stevens of Strada Sport who had made a move earlier in the lap. He maintained the pressure for a couple of laps before dropping back into the bunch. The peloton then entered into a period of consolidation: a few attacks off the front, weaker riders being shed, until about twenty minutes in when the “surprise” prime was dropped in by the organisers. Zechmann was clearly determined to start setting the tone, and his effort in winning the Prime was enough to split the bunch. From then on the ferocious wind played it’s part and it was carnage, with riders all over the circuit. A lead group of eight formed around Bradbury and Zechmann, quickly pushing their lead out to around 30 seconds.
With the weather taking a turn for the worse cross winds and horizontal rain plus the technical nature of the circuit saw the remainder of the race splinter, with riders puncturing and various chasing groups being scattered by the wind. After losing a few riders in the break, Zechmann and Bradbury jumped away to fight their own battle.
The pair continued to work enough to stay ahead, but with the series at stake and just five laps to go they inevitably started to look at each other. Perhaps sensing the opportunity, George Wood (Neon Velo) attacked the chasing group in pursuit of the pair up the road. Slowly but surely he pulled them in, until with three laps to go he caught them – and attacked again. Panache he may have had, but the efforts of closing on them were clearly too much and he was quickly caught, settling for the place in their wheels that his cojones had earned him. Behind the leading three, the race was in pieces, with six riders on their own or in pairs, notably Cameron Woolsey and Theo Doncaster, both of CC Ashwell, who were working well together. The chasers were followed by what remained of the bunch – a group of seven.
Coming in to the final lap and Zechmann and Bradbury finally upped the pace, detaching themselves from Wood by enough that the result of the race, and of the series, would come down to the two of them. The excitement amongst the crowd and officials was palpable, and as the two riders appeared over the top of the long drag and on to the short descent before the alpine climb, they saw Zechmann attack.
Opening a gap of only a handful of metres, it was enough to put him first into the tight right hander at the start of the alpine. Bradbury isn’t that easily beaten though, and has an uphill kick that has won him 3 previous races in this series alone. He responded, digging deep, and as they swung back left he moved for the inside line and accelerated. Zechmann, using the awareness of a true bike racer, sensed rather than saw the move coming and closed the door, the two almost colliding. Zechmann held on and pulled away. Risking a look back over his shoulder, he knew that this was it. Rounding the final tight left hander the hands came off the bar and a scream of emotion that can barely have been heard in a Winter Series before. An amazing finale to a supremely hard fought series that was a credit to both riders.
Wood rode in solo for third place which boosted his overall series standing, claiming 10 series points, with the main remaining drama being the sprint for 9th place – surprisingly won by “serial escape artist” Wayne Crombie of ELV. An exciting race all round seeing a usually organised 2/3 race completely blown apart for a change – lapped riders were gradually pulled from 5 to go, one reason why there were so few finishers. Final series result is below.
1. Gunther Zechmann – London Phoenix CC
2. Edmond Bradury – Cambridge Uni CC
3. George Wood – Neon Velo
4. Woolsey Cameron – CC Ashwell
5. Theo Doncaster – CC Ashwell
6. Tom Bicknell – Pro Cycle Hire
7. Will Hayter – London Dynamo
8. Anthony Buchan – Private Member
9. Wayne Crombie – ELV
10. Lewis Stevens – Strada-Sport
11. David Barnes – Sports Traider Race Team
12. Colin Bailey – North Road CC
13. Simon Bromley – London Dynamo
14. Jason Kettle – Mid Devon CC
15. Marcus Burnett – Sports Traider Race Team
16. Andrew Carter – Portsmouth North End CC
17. Daniel Maynard – Welwyn Wheelers CC
18. Philip Holloway – Southend Wheelers
18 Finishers from 44 Starters
Bradbury must have been kicking himself for not turning up for the first race, but Zechmann showed everything he needed to take the series and was a worthy winner, congratulations from all at ELV. Aside from the battle at the top of the series, Wood’s 3rd place on the day was enough to move him up from 5= to 3rd place overall, leapfrogging Hayter and Doncaster. Congratulations to everyone who took part in the series, thanks for turning out and helping make it so successful. Thanks also to the volunteers and officials who made this all possible, and without whom this sport would not exist.
1. Gunther Zechmann – London Phoenix CC (74)
2. Edmond Bradury – Cambridge Uni CC (69)
3. George Wood – Neon Velo (28)
4. Will Hayter – London Dynamo (26)
5. Theo Doncaster – CC Ashwell (25)
6. Lewis Bulley – Sports Traider RT (18)
7. Joel Natale – Dulwich Paragon CC (17)
8. Colin Bailey – North Road CC (12)
9. Luke Merrilees – WyndyMilla (11)
10. Kieran Brady – Citycyclecentre.com (9)
11. Jonnie Blackman – Beckenham Rugby Club (8)
11. Woolsey Cameron – CC Ashwell (8)
11. Jack Finch – PMR@Toachim House (8)
11. Charles Pearson – Cambridge CC (8)
11. Ray Wilson – London Dynamo (8)
16. Adam Capes – Finchley Racing Team (6)
16. Patrick Martin – WyndyMilla (6)
18. Rhys Keepence – Dulwich Paragon CC (4)
18. Richard Price – London Phoenix CC (4)
18. Frank Rawlins – North Road CC (4)
21. James Freeman – Dulwich Paragon CC (3)
21. Philip Hersey – Eagle RC (3)
21. Philip Holloway – Southend Wheelers (3)
24. Jason Jeffers – East London Velo (1)
24. Iain Palmer – Twickenham CC (1)
24. Seeley Robert – Brixton CC (1)
24. Will Sloper – CVCC (1)
24. Daniel Tullett – Hargroves Cycles (1)
24. Wayne Crombie – East London Velo (1)