For the past 19 years the parish village of Ixworth in the Borough of St Edmundsbury, Suffolk has put on a criterium race organised by the West Suffolk Wheelers and Triathlon Club that has attracted some of the best road racers to stem from the Eastern Region and further afield with a full programme from youth under 10’s to Elite’s.
Being a criterium race it is also a great test for youth riders more accustomed to racing on circuits with run off aplenty as against 90 degree turns with barriers and kerbs to contend with. Plus, the race can be used as a springboard as to what will be expected if they progress to Juniors with technical skills being the order of the day as well as knowing the best lines to choose and finish approaches being crucial.
Now upon arrival signing on was fast and efficient especially as timing chips were to be used for the first time and needed to removed from the previous race. This left plenty of time to watch the under 10’s action won by CJ’s team member Henry Hobbs in a sprint out against NKOTB Dylan Starkey of Welwyn Wheelers CC and to also warm up on his rollers.
Pretty soon it was fight time and the usual bun fight in the holding area as racers jostled for a front row start before being allowed up to the start/finish line to commence war. CJ was pretty far back but did not appear unduly worried as he got ready for one of his best races of the racing calendar thus far.
From the drop and as soon as the pace motorbike opened up some distance it was obvious that a few racers were intent on stretching out the field of approximately forty. This caused many unaware riders to drop off before even a lap had commenced and being a criterium format lapped riders were going to be the order of the day.
By lap two CJ had moved through the field to the pointy end of the action but decided against covering any attacks from the likes of Team Milton Keynes who drove the pace. Instead CJ hovered around the top 10 knowing that his rear wheel was sure to be stalked and saved his energy whilst others did the chasing.
The main Team Milton Keynes protagonist who constantly upped the pace on lap three was Adam Lea who stretched the front group with the CC Ashwell boys taking up the slack as the others fell into an eventual groove knowing that with over 50 percent of the riders ejected it was time to settle down.
Harry Garfield of Bourne Wheelers also tried a solo flight but was again brought back into the fold and things eased awaiting the bell. CJ also gave thought to Fynn Hunter-Metcalfe (no.442) who had given a masterclass winning the 2nd round of Mud Sweat & Gears but was an unknown quantity on the road as against the other wheelslingers he’s drawn swords with.
Eventually the bell sounded and Lea Valley’s Alfie Salmon or possibly Owen Prenelle were sure to find CJ’s wheel as well as his team mate Noah Hobbs for the final shakedown as he made his execution. Down the back straight CJ took the lead pushing the pace and stringing out the front runners but knew his wheel was being drafted into the final corner.
Alas, the line into the final turn was not executed as planned which saw CJ run wider than expected and he could see his team mates wheel on his inside. Now the finish is on an inclined slope and CJ quickly put the power down for the final push to the flag taking the win by just over a bikes length.
Soon the provisional results were in and a special mention to Jodie Taylor (Colchester Rovers CC) who took 7th and 1st girl with a great ride and Alfie Salmon a comfortable 3rd placing… Now as is the tradition flowers are given to the winner and CJ was glad to present these to his mother and number one supporter. Finally, many thanks again for a race programme that is a credit to all involved. Ciao for now and race video here.