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Junior CICLE Classic Rider Race Report - Archie Ellen

With only half the 140 rider completing the 108km race packed with rough sectors, the objective was to finish. Photo's VeloUK

Last weekend my TCA teammates and I took on what is undoubtedly the craziest race of the British calendar and our first junior race: the infamous Cicle Classic. The race kicked off in the town of Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire, England. Even in the ceremonial roll-out to the start line, there were numerous crashes which luckily, we all avoided.

The race started on the town high street at 11 am, which led to the long neutral zone where the racers rode tightly packed behind the neutral car. As soon as the car pulled away there were many high-speed crashes in quick succession. While the intense race was underway, the TCA dads positioned themselves at the ends of the notorious gravel sectors, armed with spare wheels in case of a puncture. TCA rider Alfie Atterton suffered a puncture pretty early in the race, and a slow wheel change made it hard for him to regain the time that he had lost.

After 40 km of fast paced racing, the race was black flagged and temporarily stopped because the number of crashes had meant that that all the ambulances had been deployed and more would have to be called in before the race restarted. More crash-dodging followed over the next kilometers as the riders fought for position.

I had made my way up to the front group, with my teammate Finn McHenry in the group behind me. An unfortunate but not too severe crash befell Elijah Kwon, as myself and a few others were distanced from the front group on a gut-wrenching climb. The next 30 kilometers went by fairly uneventfully until my 3 other group companions and I were inevitably absorbed by the large bunch behind.

The group included Finn, and we were in good position coming into the sprint. Unfortunately, I was caught up in the middle of a large crash, and while I did manage to avoid coming off the bike myself, I was forced to come to a total halt as the rest of the bunch were able to cycle round. This really frustrated me as the riders in that group were the same ones who I had put serious time into on the hilly sections. My small group had been caught by them on the flatter section as a result of sheer numbers, and now they would all finish before me because of the unavoidable crash.

Still, I was relatively content just to reach the finish line considering that over half of the guys who took to the start abandoned on the way round. All in all, the fact that only Elijah had crashed in the most dangerous three hours I have ever experienced was enough to make the race outcome a positive one. A big thanks to the organisers for a memorable day on bikes. We'll be back next year!

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