In under-tyre contrast to round 1, the sun shone, tyres grips, bikes stayed relatively clean. Some spoke of sun tans, and the winner carried a bottle and cage. Strange things afoot. Ed Rollason reports:
October, traditionally the month of wind, hail, torrential downpours, rains of frogs… and cyclocross racing. Only the latter was in evidence at Clayton Vale today as the Indian Summer reached new and sizzling heights, temperatures pushing up into the mid to high twenties.
There were strong fields for both the U12s and the Youth race, over 30 starters in both cases. In the youth race there was an early spill on the exit from the tarmac finish straight which brought down 5 of the leading riders. However, they were quickly back on their feet and the race went on. With the heat really beginning to build around midday conditions were extremely tough.
There was also a strong field for the senior event, Tom Armstrong (WheelBase Cannondale) and Giles Drake (Team Elite) lining up alongside the usual suspects of the NWCCA. The dry conditions promised a fast race, a “dirt crit” as several of the riders said to me.
The start was blisteringly fast from the gun, Paul Bethel taking the best line and racing through the choke point, closely followed by Armstrong and Drake. Behind them confusion reigned as a hundred riders attempted to get through a gap only wide enough for 5 at a time!
With Bethell suffering from a cold, Drake and Armstrong quickly overhauled him and kept up a blistering pace, Armstrong sat apparently comfortably on the wheel of the more senior rider. However, as the laps flipped by and the temperature started to take its toll Armstrong came unstuck and began to go backwards, Drake digging in and building a decent lead.
Behind them many riders were simply trying to survive, the course and the heat, constantly taking on fluid to try and keep dehydration and cramp at bay.
As the bell sounded Drake was well ahead and the clear winner. The MC began to announce Armstrong in second but it was actually Bethell who sprinted across the line, an amazing comeback from a man who had seemed well off the pace in the early stages. Armstrong came in third.
Photos here from SportSunday
Photos by Ed Rollason photography are here or as a slideshow below