Bryan Steel reports on the the opening round of the British Cycling Elite Road Series for 2018 in the Chorley Borough. The race is part of the 2018 HSBC UK Spring Cup series and saw the Academy facing national professional teams such as OnePro and Madison Genesis on the start line.
This weekend the academy made a massive step up with riding the first national series road race at the Chorley GP. The riders were not only contending with some of the best riders and team in the UK, but they faced 116 miles of some of the hardest roads Lancashire could offer. Karl, Luke, Tom and Dave lined up and with the first-year riders and there were a few nervous faces with the race plan to get stuck in while learning what level they will need to be in the future.
At the end of the first 25-mile lap there was bodies everywhere with the race already spread over 10 miles in the first hour. Dave and Karl were sat nicely in the bunch but Tom and Luke, for whom this was the first time they had raced at this level, were off the back in a small chasing group.
The second time through, Dave and Karl were still sat in the main field and Luke and Tom pulled out after the long but unsuccessful chase. They told me that in the crosswind over Riverton Moor they got stuck behind a crash and at this level if a gap opens then they know it was going to have to be a very hard chase to get back on.
On the third lap the pace really picked where Karl got dropped and even if it was nicely and sunny in Chorley the weather had taken a turn for the worst on the other side of the 25-mile lap and with the weather and the distance at this speed the racing had taken its toll.
By the time the bunch came through the fourth time Dave was showing signs of struggling but OK, but he got dropped on the first hill out of Chorley which is the same place he got dropped last year and called it a day.
On the whole the academy rode very well but they now know that the level of racing is higher than they currently are, and the new riders now know the level they need to be to make progress.