Downton 2017 and the NFCC Road Race Championship

Posted on 23rd Oct 2017

The Downton 2 Day Classic 2017 would probably be my last road race of the year and it was an event I trained for and looked forward to. A year ago, Downton 2016 was my first road race and I hoped I had learned since then. Last year I did well in the prologue, received a large handicap for the road race and finished poorly in the overall. The event also serves as the NFCC Road Race Championship which I would like to win so I was determined not to make the same mistakes again. The 2 day event consists of a 2.4km hilly prologue, a 30 mile handicapped road race and a 15 mile TT. I was half tempted to use my TT bike for the prologue but in the end, I settled for playing the long game and rode fairly hard but without putting too much into my legs. I came first out of the NFCC guys but the time was disappointing. This year the road race started with only three groups. I was put in the first which contained quite a range of abilities and all the NFCC riders. The pace was brisk from the off and some riders soon tailed off. First Stuart Peckham then Robert Veal tried attacks but despite me playing the team game and trying to slow things down, these never really looked like succeeding. The group thinned out but settled down for the second lap until about half way around, eventual winner Matt Downie caught followed by Red Walters. Soon those remaining in the fast group joined and the pace picked up as they tried to despatch the slower riders. Rob and I went with the lead group but about 3 miles from the end, 7 or 8 riders broke free. I tried to bridge but riders sat on my wheel and wouldn't contribute so I had to let them go. By this time Matt and Red had pushed on again giving groups of 2, 7 and 12 with the remaining 20 or so riders strung out behind. Knowing I wasn’t now going to get into the top few, I rode conservatively to save my legs for the TT and waited for the final ramp before breaking out and finishing 11th overall with Rob about 10 seconds behind in 15th [Click here for Downton 2017 Road Race Finish Video] . I should have done better but the plan was still intact and my legs were reasonably OK for the TT. I tried to ride a negative split for the TT but things went wrong when a missing marshal caused confusion for half of the field at the final turn. Yes I thought I knew the course, but how many times are we told the route will be signed and marshalled and to continue until told otherwise? Regardless, I looked, thought about it and continued on. It was the wrong decision and I lost at least 90 seconds. Spurred by perceived injustice, I pushed on for the last third and gained a KOM on the way. It wasn’t enough to get a top 10 finish overall, it wouldn’t have been anyway, but I did finish 14th overall and it was enough to win the NFCC Road Race Championship which was the target at the start of the race. Glenn’s Downton Classic isn’t perfect, but it’s a valued event and its great that organisers make the effort to put them on for us. Its an event I will look forward to taking part in next year and hopefully I’ve progressed a little more along the learning curve.