Southend Wheeler takes
4th at Hog Hill
Following his dream start to the East London Velo Winter Series at
Hog Hill near Redbridge, Southend Wheelers’ Chris Smith had endured a
rash of bad luck. Punctures and a lack of racing experience conspired to
leave the Rochford rider empty-handed in successive outings, after his
superb 10th place – and vital category point – in his maiden race at the
east London venue.
Unfazed and certainly undaunted, the plucky 24-year old again teamed up
with fellow Wheeler, Maylandsea’s Jamie Maidment to contest round 5 of
the criterium (circuit racing) series at Hog Hill, last Saturday (4th
As usual, the starting pace from the gun was as brisk as the
temperatures but, despite their rivals’ best efforts, the Wheelers duo
refused to be jettisoned out of the back of the fast-moving pack.
“Halfway through Jamie annoyingly punctured but, fortunately, he was
allowed to take a lap out and rejoin the bunch,” said Chris.
However, although they were back together as a duo, Maidment’s arrival
back in the peloton appeared to signal a change in the race’s tempo, as
Smith explains: “After Jamie got back into the pack, the pace became
pretty choppy and fatigue started setting in.”
With just five laps to go, the peloton split, with Jamie just off the
back of the bunch in a small chain-gang and trying to haul himself – and
it seemed the others – back up to the main group.
Rather than work together to close the gap, Maidment’s co-pursuers
appeared to prefer to fight him rather race for a top ten placing,
allowing the lead group to escape further up the road.
“There was a bit of rivalry in Jamie’s group, which he ended up
victorious in!” Smith reflected with some satisfaction afterwards.
In the final lap, a breakaway rider launched his bid for victory with a
surprise attack off the front. He opened up a lead of up to ten metres
on the back straight – with the notorious Hoggenberg Climb yet to come.
“It didn't seem as though anyone wanted to pull back to him. I
certainly didn't fancy doing any unnecessary pulls! With the hill in
sight and then at the foot of the Hoggenberg, I was in a decent position
and launched an attack.”
Wondering if he had committed too soon, Chris had no choice but to dig
deep and go ‘full gas’ up the lung-busting ascent.
“As I clambered up the hill, I took a quick look under my arm and saw
that I had a gap and rolled over the finish line in 4th,” Smith said
with obvious pride, adding: “Hopefully, there will be no punctures
for either of us next week and we’ll both finish in the top ten next