The opening round of the British Mountain Bike Series at Sherwood Pines saw the first proper team outing for the TORQ Performance squad. Sherwood is a love/hate type of course with most riders dreading the opening round, with no place to hide and the first real test that all those winter training miles have gone to plan. The course suits the heavier riders who have confidence on the road, so if you don’t catch a wheel early on in the race, you get stuck in ‘no man’s land’ and have to work incredibly hard just to stand still.
Team TORQ line up for 2010
After a good ride round the proposed circuit on Saturday, followed by a few posed photos the team were eager and ready to race. And race they did! Saturday night saw Lee, Mateusz, Ben and James all ride strongly together in the fast tempo, no holds barred Team relay race. With some stiff competition to beat the team did well and finally after 8 head spinning laps sprinted into 2nd. The team race rules only alow one elite male per team of 4, so TORQ we’re unable to field their trademark ‘strength in depth’ squad, but James and Matezus, TORQ’s expert riders rode superbly.
Podium action in the Team Relay.
Now the team were fired up and keen to get stuck in to Sunday’s races! First up were the women, with Lee Craigie riding in the Elite race and Lydia Gould taking on the Experts. We all expected the initial race outing to be a toughie, with a comprehensive talent packed field, including espoir champion Annie Last and World Cup regulars Kate Potter and Mel Spath, this was one race were the going would be anything but easy. Up at the head of the field the race was developing apace between Potter, Last and Rosara Joseph, while behind the field splintered and chased in equal measures. For Lee, coming from the mountains in Scotland the fast paced flat trails of Sherwood were a complete eye opener. Despite a lack lustre start, where she hovered in the top ten, she realised that she’d best up the ante and come to grips with the lack of hills. Digging deep on the final lap she pursued and passed a number of rivals to finally finish behind eventual winner Last in a creditable 5th spot just 10 secs off 4th place. She wasn’t entirely pleased with her performance but is preparing for round 2 to set the cat amongst the pigeons! Lydia, who refuses to race in the Grand Vets class did us proud grabbing TORQ their first National podium position with a fine performance in the experts against many women half her age.
Lee Getting to grips with the flat Sherwood course.
“The flat course took me by surprise, it felt like a road race with no hills to push on with. I realised I was sitting back on my final lap and thought I’d better get a move on, took Maddie Horton and Mel Spath to finish 5th. Not pleased with my race but pleased with my position.”
Lydia on her way to the first TORQ Podium spot in the Expert race.
Next up it was time for the Elite and sport men to tackle the course. For one TORQ rider this would certainly be a leap into the unknown. James Lister is better known in the mountain bike community for his endurance abilities but at Sherwood he was ready and willing to compete in a relatively short distance XC race. With previous XC races a dim and distant memory, Lister could only enter the sport race and again with no pedigree to talk off he was placed at the rear of a mighty bog group. Undeterred, as soon as the race got under way he settled down to the task in hand and over the 4lap race moved swiftly to the front of the race where it looked like there might be a fairy tale ending. Unfortunately a sprint finish saw Lister pipped to the line, denied by a handful of seconds his first XC win! While in the expert race Mateusz Wielgos narrowly missed out on a top ten finish in the ultra competitive Experts race.
James on his way to a fine result in the sport field.
“As this was my first cross country race for a couple of years, and starting close to the back of the field of 80+ riders, I new a great start was going to be key to a good result. With my focus been on endurance racing I was unsure how I would fair in the change of discipline. As the gun went off I charged down the barriers trying to make up as many places as possible, by the first section of singletrack I was up with the top few riders, perfect I thought to myself. With Sherwood been a flat course, tactics were going to play a major role in the final outcome of the race. Throughout the race I tried to conserve as much energy as possible and as the final lap approached I found myself battling for the win with Rob McCarthy. As we entered the arena for the final time we both sprinted to the line for the win, sadly I missed out to Rob by a wheel length. All in all I was very happy with my 2nd place and can take this result as a positive step on to the second round.”
Mateusz in the Expert race
In the main elite race TORQ were well represented but also fully aware that Anthony O’Boyle and Andy Blair who recently arrived from Australia would possibly be on a back foot as they struggled both with the temperature and the time difference. This left new boy, Sion O’Boyle to find out how elite racing would shape up for him, while old hands Ben Thomas, Tim Dunford and Nick Collins just got stuck in. As predicted both Blair and O’Boyle senior had a difficult race, neither able to display their obvious talent. Best TORQ finisher on the day was Thomas grabbing an excellent 15th spot, while Dunford skimmed into the top 20. One of the best performances of the day had to be by Sion, with a creditable 27th spot in his first elite outing.
Andy still thinking of warmer times!
Despite the jetlag Anthony still has the energy to style it up!
Ben the best finisher of the day
“The season kicked off with the usual dreaded race that everyone wishes to get out of the way due to its flatness and high intensity. I had a real good start holding my position but the intensity kicked up a gear as soon as we hit the fire road and I struggled with the pace so decided to ride at my own pace and pick off the dying people later. My tactic worked and within 2 laps into the 6 my legs came alive and the gears dropped and I rode myself into the race. After loading myself with Torq energy drink and gels I was taking positions each lap and feeling strong and thanks to the new carbon Kilauea hardtail I was putting the power down and getting full response from the bike. Going into the last lap I was 40 seconds down on the pair of riders in front and managed to give it that extra little burst supplied by Torqs’ new branded banoffee caffeine gel. As I got closer the riders realized I was chasing and didn’t make it easy for me, however by the finish I managed to get the gap down to 10 seconds and to take a respectable 27th position on a flat course which I don’t like and which doesn’t suit me as a rider. Overall I was happy with the weekends result and cannot wait for the next race with some more quality training sessions in the legs.”
Great ride for Sion in his first Elite race.
Nick Collins rode a consistent race.
All the riders would like this opportunity to thank the sponsors for giving them the best possible equipment to help them reach for those all important podium spots. Now that round one is done and dusted, watch this space as the action hots up and the TORQ Performance once more ups the ante.
www.konaworld.com – Frames
www.sram.com – Groupsets, Suspension Forks and Brakes
www.met-helmets.com – Helmets
www.ritcheylogic.com – Handlebars, Stems and Seatposts
www.schwalbe.com – Tyres
www.exposurelights.com – Advanced Lighting
www.juicelubes.co.uk – Lubrication
www.lakecycling.com – Shoes
www.jagwireusa.com – Cables and Housing
www.crankbrothers.com – Pedals
www.bikeboxalan.co.uk – Bike Boxes
www.fizik.com – Saddles
www.superstarcomponents.com – Hubs and Headsets
www.alexrims.com – Rims
www.sapim.be – Spokes
www.maxgear.co.uk – Glasses, Compression, Tools
www.champ-sys.co.uk – Performance Cycle Clothing
www.joolzedymond.com – Photography
www.fibrax.com – Brake Hardware
www.sport-torque.com – Torque Wrenches
www.cycleops.com – Power Measurement, Turbo training and Bike Racks
www.notubes.com – Tyre Sealant
www.portablepressurewashers.co.uk – Portable Bike Washing
All images are ©Joolze Dymond – www.joolzedymond.com
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All images are ©Joolze Dymond – www.joolzedymond.com