Despite the arctic conditions – or perhaps inspired by them (cyclists
are a funny lot) – Southend Wheelers’ Chris Smith and Jamie Maidment
entered the fray at the third round of East London Velo’s Winter Series,
again held at Redbridge Cycling Centre (21 January).
With sub-zero overnight temperatures climbing to a ‘balmy’ six degrees in the sunshine, the 4th Category race got underway at a brisk pace.
From the gun Smith joined a front group, composed of eight riders, with Maidment slotting in behind his Southend team-mate. It wasn’t long before Smith, in a repeat of his attacking performance the week before, began to urge his companions to make an early breakaway from the main bunch: “I tried getting the leading group motivated, saying that we could all keep away,” he explained. “I took some big pulls on the front but within a couple of laps it was as though they had almost given up and the chasing group had closed us down.”
Wisely, Smith allowed himself to be re-absorbed into the peloton and spent the next twenty minutes biding his time and planning his next move. Undaunted by his previous attack’s failure, the aggressive Rochford-based rider threw caution to the wind.
“I tried getting a few lads together to make another break. Jamie (Maidment) set me up for a perfect break with a big effort but once again no one wanted to join us.”
The pair drifted back into the bunch but this time found themselves on the receiving end of an attack.
“As we regrouped, we found ourselves on the back foot, with the guys we had wanted to break with, countering us,” Maidment said.
As the Wheelers’ duo tried to work out what was happening and how to respond, the new breakaway succeeded in opening up a sizeable gap over their rivals. Sensing he had to react, Smith initiated the chase.
Having clawed his way back into contention and rejoined Maidment in the peloton, Smith was surprised to see the pace slow, saying “It was almost as though they were out for a leisurely group ride.”
At this juncture Jamie launched his own attacked but was quickly reeled in. To add insult to injury, he found himself ‘pedalling squares’ as fatigue took hold and he lost touch with the peloton, before being requested to stop racing by the officials, who sensed he would not regain his place in the main group.
As the race edged towards its finale, Chris sensibly maintained a watching brief near the front of the field, making sure that he could go with any last-minute breaks – as had happened the week before with just two laps to go.
“On the final lap I was in a good position but as the hill (the famed Hoggenberg incline which tops out just before the finishing line) approached and pace quickened I found myself in a relatively bad position. I was jumped and probably put in my sprint too early, which ultimately meant I finished outside the top ten,” he shrugged, before adding “These are life lessons learned the hard way, sometimes it pays off to sit in (the bunch), do nothing and get a result!”
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|The Start of he race on a beautiful winter's day|
|Chris Smith III is on the attack|
|Jamie Maidment pings off the front|
|The bunch tackles the infamous climb|
|Chris Smith is out of the saddle|
|Jamie Maidment makes a break....|
|...but is soon back in the bunch|