Wheelbase-Cannondale rider Michael Cotty mastered sweltering conditions in Swindon to win the second round of the Wessex League – and the third round of the Western League – at Lydiard Park.
The 32-year-old Hampshire rider beat the promoting club’s Crispin Doyle in the seniors, which was the feature race in a day of racing which had attracted around 200 riders to the venue.
Report and photographs by Graham Robins
There was a very strong field for the senior race which was run off in bright sunshine with very little wind to cool the riders, even under the trees it was still very warm.
The first lap saw the leading group of six all together and already pulling out a gap. The first rider to lead through the technical section was the previous round’s winner Steve James (Hargroves Cycles) closely followed by Crispin Doyle (Swindon RC), Michael Cotty (Wheeelbase-Cannondale), Will Bjergfelt (Motorpoint Pro Cycling), Adrain Lansley (Pedal On) and Dan Lewis (RAF CA), with Sam Allen (Hennebont Cycling) – fresh from a season riding in France as part of a French semi-pro team – close by.
right: Michael Cotty (Wheelbase) takes the win in the Wessex League at Lydiard Park.
On the second lap the leaders came into the woods with James still leading Doyle and Cotty. But he slipped which allowed the others past, and this is when Cotty attacked. He was third into the trees but first one out and with a small lead.
The first major casualty was Steve James who was felling unwell and retired at the end of the lap.
As the race progressed Cotty opened up a gap of over 30 seconds with the rest of the chasing bunch all together. The chasing group of five were all together for a couple of laps, until Doyle saw his chance to attack and pulled away from Lewis, who in turn could not chase him down because he would have pulled all the others along with him.
He had to wait for his chance, and with a lap to go he made his move and pulled away. Doyle then had his work cut out to keep Lewis at bay. Bjergfelt had to have a bike change when his shifter lever became loose, but was soon on his way quite quickly, but Matt Macdonald passed him and took a fine finish in a very hard race.
As Cotty started the last lap he rode hard on the grassed area so he could go carefully through the single track and wooded sections. He came across the line well clear of the others, with Doyle next up followed by Dan Lewis in third.
The first lap of the combined race for juniors, women and veterans saw the young Hargroves riders Matt Hargroves and Harry Franklin pull out a strong lead with the next riders into view were the veteran riders of Sean Williams (Wight Mountain), Keith Sheridan (Hargroves Cycles), Will Girvan (NHRC), Dave McMullen (GWR) and Kevin Knox (Vicious Velo).
The first women were Claire Smith (Swindon RC) who was well clear of Caroline Goward (Scott Contessa).
The race soon settled in and the two leaders were never challenged throughout the race. Most of the action was coming from the vets as the group of four soon became five then six before Knox and McMullen slipped away when first Girvan slipped back and then Williams slipped on beech nuts strewn across one corner.
This slip might have damaged William’s rear wheel as he had to disconnect his rear brakes and finish the race with just his fronts.
Towards the end Girvan was putting in a strong challenge, but the leading vets were clear and it was McMullen who finished clear of Knox.
The combined race was won by Matt Hargroves with Dave McMullen claiming the vets win and Claire Smith taking a break from her organising duties the romp home first in the women’s race.
The youth race had a strong contingent from Hargroves Cycles. The race got underway and soon Tom Franklin and Harvey Lowe (Hargroves Cycles) opened a gap as they worked together and pulled away from team mate Daniel Tulett with Robbie Bolwell (Wight Mountain) right behind him. With the two leaders away they rest of the entries were soon spread across the park.
For the second week running Lowe parted company with his bike, but this time he had time to remount and catch up with Franklin.
Harvey sat on his wheel awaiting his opportunity to attack, and saw his chance in the single track wooded section and got away to finish well clear of Franklin, with Tulett third and Bolwell.
Within the first lap of the Under-12 race Ben Tulett (HHVCC) pulled out a commanding lead over a fast-charging Harry Dridge (Southdown Velo) and Charlie Clark (Hillingdon Slipstream).
Close by was Jay Allen (Palmer Park) and Tom Sewell (Swindon RC). The leading places did not change until the last lap when Allen got a slow puncture allowing Sewell to slip by, but he still managed to coax his bike to the finish line for fifth.
The next round of the Wessex League is in a couple of week’s time in Basingstoke on Sunday 16th October.
1 Michael Cotty (Wheelbase-Cannondale)
2 Crispin Doyle (Swindon RC)
3 Dan Lewis (RAF CA)
4 Matt MacDonald (Stevens UK/Hargroves Cycles)
5 Will Bjergfelt (Motorpoint Pro Cycling)
1 Matt Hargroves (Hargroves Cycles)
2 Harry Franklin (Hargroves Cycles)
3 Joe Griffiths (Dream CC)
4 Matt Woods (Hargroves Cycles)
5 William Mackie (AW Cycles)
1 Dave McMullen (Team GWR)
2 Kevin Knox (Vicious Velo)
3 Will Girvan (North Hampshire RC)
4 Sean Williams (Wight Mountain)
5 Keith Sheidan (Hargroves Cycles)
1 Claire Smith (Swindon RC)
2 Caroline Goward (Scott Contessa)
3 Sarah Woods (Wight Mountain)
4 Sharon Dolman (Swindon RC)
5 Samantha Jones (four4th.co.uk)
1 Harvey Lowe (Hargroves Cycles)
2 Tom Franklin (Hargroves Cycles)
3 Daniel Tulett (Hargroves Cycles)
4 Robbie Bolwell (Wight Mountain)
5 Jack Saunders (Swindon RC)
1 Ben Tulett (HHVCC)
2 Harry Dridge (Southdown Velo)
3 Charlie Clark (Hillingdon Slipstream)
4 Tom Sewell (Swindon RC)
5 Jay Allen (Palmer Park)