Sunday, 18 March 2012

Canny Caton plays it cool for the win

Husbands Bosworth in Leicestershire this morning played host to the Fleche Waltonne round of the LVRC series. Designed as a 'hardman's race', the course included a 3 mile section of unclassified road which was not only demanding from a handling point of view, it left the competitors and their machines liberally splattered with dirt.

those of a mechanically sensitive disposition should look away

To add to the challenge, the weather threw in its lot. Temperatures barely above freezing combined with driving rain and sleet to give the field an unforgettable morning out.

Paul Caton recalls "At one point, my jaw was actually fatigued just from shivering! I made one attack out of the bunch if only to keep warm, but my body seemed to rebel so I was caught quite quickly." Resolved to tough it out, the Anders TMG Horizon rider counted down the laps as a lone attack from Steve Johnson was reeled in.

With 1km to go, it was clear the race was going to finish in a bunch sprint, but there was a small climb to the line. Says Caton: "I just manned it out. I tried not to think about the weather, the risks and the other riders."

Paul Caton - early win in 2012

Timing his move to perfection, the team's number one rider distanced the field and took the win by over three bike lengths. "I really did think of packing in the early laps," he concludes. "It just shows that everyone else was feeling it too. It's always worth sticking with it and giving it a shot."

Monday, 12 March 2012

2012 Season Starts with a Bang

Mixed fortunes befell the Anders TMG Horizon riders on the 2nd weekend in March as they hit the roads of the South East to start their 2012 racing. "Hit" is perhaps too literal a term.

On Saturday the 10th, Neil Wass hit the deck after only 3km of the Spring Chicken Road Race in Buckinghamshire. "We were a little apprehensive this year," he recounts. "We've all done this race before. The roads aren't exactly in top condition and the riders are all that bit more nervous and excited in the early races, but even I didn't expect to go down that quickly!"

In the opening kilometres, Wass had positioned himself with safety in mind : "I'd got myself into the front 10 - not on the front but I thought that was safest so as to avoid any bunch incidents, at least for the first lap." Unfortunately, one of the handful of riders in front lost control on the first bend. "Hi front wheel just seemed to go from under him." says Wass. John Lacey continues: "It was pretty greasy, but we managed OK on subsequent laps, so I suspect he may have been a touch nervous.

"All I could do was scrub off some speed and try to hit the ground as slowly as possible," concludes Wass. "I avoided anything more than a bit of road rash, and it is the first time in 8 years of racing that I've collided with another rider, so I guess my good luck was well overdue to run out!"

Eugene Rack dropped back to check on his team mate: "I saw him go down and I wanted to make sure he was OK. It could have been a lot more serious and I didn't want to continue racing not knowing." Having checked things over, the duo retired. Says Rack: "There's the rest of the season  to come - better to be safe than sorry."

John Lacey - last man standing back in the bunch at the Spring Chicken
John Lacey maintained his signature cool composure and completed the race, finishing in the bunch: "I could feel twinges of cramp - annoying because I forgot to take some salt sticks before the race, but I was here to get back into the groove and I didn't want to risk any spasms from overdoing it."

Sunday brought even warmer weather. Paul Caton tackled the LVRC road race in Towcester. "It took me a few minutes to get my race head on, " he says. "Unfortunately, by the time I did, a break had gone up the road!" He wasn't the only one to be ruing lost opportunities though, and a group of 4 formed to chase on to the break. "In terms of positioning, in a small group like that, I thought I was in a good position," he continues. "But it clearly wasn't my day." One of the four riders took a bend far too fast and crashed right in front of Caton, leaving him no option: "I hit the guy who came down and went over the bars."

Jumping straight back on, the four now down to three, Caton was slowing "I'd lost a bit of time and the impact had winded me a bit, so we were swallowed up again by the bunch but I sat in for a bit and tried to recover." Recover he did, and sprinted for 10th overall. "Not a great morning out, but at least I got something out of it." he concludes.

Nick Walker: "It was one of those weekends you'd rather forget. The guys seemed to be doing the right things though. Let's hope we got the bad luck out of the way. There's plenty of time for results later."