The Paragon News Feed

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25/09/18

Development rider George Skinner's racing update: victories, crashes and lessons in Flemish

Created by Michelle Arthurs Brennan at 2018-09-25 17:56:39

Development rider George Skinner updated us on his progress in May. A lot has happened since then - read on for his most recent exploits, up until the end of the season...

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20.05.2018 - EMRRL Team PB Performance – 16th

A 10km ride from university, a group of us rode out to the race start on what was set to be a pretty hot day.

We rode aggressively as a team but a move just managed to stay away despite our efforts to try and pull it back.

A touch of handlebars, as someone tried to push me onto the other side of the road as they tried to move up at the finish dropped me back a little so I finished just outside the points.

Frustrating, but still the highest placed Loughborough rider and a good long day on the bike.

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27.05.2018 – Performance Cycles – South Cerny RR – 2nd

A 100km pancake flat race near the Cotswolds. A 12 lap 90km race.

For the first lap, I sat towards the front, just to stay safe, as we went around the course for the first time.

Halfway through the second lap I decided to have a little dig on the only very slight rise on the course.

A group of 6 of us got a gap on the bunch with the main goal being to stay out of sight of the bunch. Within a few laps we were whittled down to just 3, with the race coming down to a sprint between us.

I managed to take second, half a wheel behind first place. My power for the two hours of the race was just a few watts under 300w and we averaged 44.5kph for the 90km. A rapid race!

29.05.2018 – Goodwood – 3rd

My first Goodwood of the year and my favourite midweek race. A strong fast race as always with a large break going up the road.

Initially I missed the move but I was quick to bridge with one other. As soon as we got there we knew we were going to stay away so everyone was rolling through steadily with no games being played early on.

With 3/4 of a lap to go, two slipped off the front and went on to compete for the win. I came around the chicane second wheel and unleashed probably my best sprint of the season opening up a few bike lengths between me and 4th place.

02.06.2018 – PNECC RR – 29th

A frustrating race for me as I was feeling strong. A break had gone up the road but with a lap to go a few of us lit up the front of the race reeling the break in under a lap.

However, this caused issues for me as I then cramped up as the decisive split went away with under a lap to go. This dropped me back into what was effectively the grupetto.

I worked hard to try and make it across but the cramping got worse and I rolled in behind the main bunch. I knew the cramp wasn’t down to my nutrition as I had been eating and hydrating well throughout the race. In hindsight we think it was caused by bike fit with my saddle being too high.

16.06.2018 – 17.06.2018 – OVB Stage race – 11th on GC

A good few days of racing for me and good to put up in Loughborough racing as a team. Stage 1 was a TTT in which we finished 4th, picking up a few points. We rode strongly and I set a huge power PB of just under 400w for just under 11 wheels.

Stage 2 was a short road race on a course that went up the infamous Harby Hill 3 times. I knew I had a good chance on this stage with a flat sprint finish a few kilometres after the top of Harby. I came over the crest of the hill just a handful of seconds off the back of the bunch and reeled my way back on, coming straight around the side of the bunch carrying speed. I won the bunch sprint to take third on stage losing a few seconds to the 4 guys in the break.

Stage 3 was a longer road race on the same course as the day before, except this time the finish was at the top of Harby Hill. We all knew this was a danger stage in terms of GC.

The three of us came in as part of the front bunch losing no time to most of our GC competitors but scoring no points on the stage.

The fourth and final stage was a Hill Climb (more of a slightly uphill time trial). I finished joint third. This placed me 11th on GC as the first rider from Loughborough. A good point scoring weekend.

24.06.2018 – VCV Summer RR – The Crash

A very selective course that I knew would be a good opportunity for me to come away with good points. It was a very hard race with a relatively difficult climb up to the finish line that makes it quite selective.

With just half a lap to go the rider in front of me went down leaving me nowhere to go except over the bars. I hit the ground and was out of the race.

After going to A&E I found out that I had separated my ACJ, putting me out and off the bike for 4 weeks.

Definitely the worse part of my season which was quite hard to take as I was in the best form I have ever been in when the crash happened.

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28.07.2018 – Ride Sussex RR – 17th

My first race back after the crash with the sole aim of getting around and to see where my legs were at. I struggled all race but got around and even managed to open up a sprint at the end to pick up 17th, just outside the points.

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01.08.2018 – Portsmouth Circuits – 1st

A 45 minute race around the outdoor track in Portsmouth. I was just rolling through and hanging on all race.

With only 15 of us racing it wasn’t a particular big bunch but with 4 laps to go someone attacked; I followed their wheel and as they swung off I put the hammer down a little. I then looked over my shoulder and realised the other rider had swung back onto my wheel and the bunch had all sat up.

I put my head down and rode to the line to win by half a lap. A great way to come back from my month off.

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05.08.2018 - SL Crawley Wheelers RR – DNF

A day where my legs just said no. I hung onto the back of the lumpy course for a lap but the second time we hit the bergs I was spat out of the back and rode around to the feed zone to help hand out bottles to Jack.

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07.08.2018 – Thruxton Round 8 – DNF

A race where I felt fairly strong I just made the wrong tactical decisions.

A large break of about 10 got off the front and it felt clear that they were gone and going to contest the points. I chipped off the front solo to try and bridge to the move. I didn’t make it and ended up being spat out the back of the bunch never to be seen again. The break ended up coming back as they stopped working together. Just one of those races where you get it wrong.

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08.08.2018 – Portsmouth Evening Circuits #19 – 11th

Not much to report a fast and hard race as usual. I was slightly boxed in coming around on the final lap I had to open up my sprint early to try and make up the places. Just missing out on any points this time around.

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14.08.2018 – Thruxton Round 9 – Race Abandoned

A really enjoyable race where I made the right decisions at the right time. I was in a large move of 8 or so with all the other strongest riders in the race. We were rolling around smoothly and holding a decent gap to the bunch.

A very unfortunate incident occurred in the 3rd Cat race requiring an air ambulance so racing was stopped a few laps early. Luckily there were no lasting injuries for the riders involved!

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15.08.2018 – Portsmouth Evening Circuits #20 – 9th

Another full gas 45mins of racing. A break of 6 took a lap on the bunch which I unfortunately missed. I took third in the bunch kick placing me 9th and giving me a point.

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19.08.2018 – Abingdon Race Team RR – Outside the top 15

I’m not sure of my final finishing position but annoyingly it was outside the points.

I felt fairly strong all race but I just couldn’t get the right move to work at the right time. Anytime I tried to chip away people would follow then not pull through, a very frustrating one. Especially as I had chosen to race this instead of going to the regional champs as I felt more likely to score points.

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22.08.2018 – Portsmouth Evening Circuits #21 – 6th

Off the line a group of 4 very strong riders took a lap on the main field. As they came up behind naturally they tried to pull over the top us to take another lap and catch everyone napping.

I was more than ready for this tactic but surprisingly everyone else in the bunch seemed fairly switched on and the break was shut down quickly. That basically left those 4 marking the main bunch so no one got a lap back and the main bunch marking those 4 making it impossible to get away.

As the 4 lap to go sign went up 2 attacked off the front and slipped away opening up a reasonable gap quickly that they would have to hold to the line to claim 5th and 6th. As we came around for 3 to go I attacked hard off the front catching one of the escapees with a lap to go. Knowing we would stay away from the bunch I sat on and opened up my sprint 150m out to take 6th. (No Pics but a nice bike).

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Belgium

Jack and I had made plans to go to Belgium for a short 3 day trip in which we would race twice.

On our first day we decided to go for a little pre race spin and thought a trip to the Kemmelberg would be ideal. Taking in the iconic cobbled climb was just what we needed before our first experience of racing abroad.

Our second day was our first race day. It was a flat 100km race in Oordegem with a finish on a short very lightly cobbled rise.

I knew it was going to be flat out from the gun so Jack and I made sure to be right at the front on the start line.

Sprinting out from the line I was positioned well for the first lap so I could race from the front and take in the first lap of the circuit as we had not been able to do a recce of the course. A few laps in a strong break opened up a reasonable gap. I was coping riding in the bunch but didn’t have the legs to really hit off the front whilst Jack was up there really contesting and trying to get away.

Our Flemish let us down as at the 90km mark unbeknown to us they had called our last lap early due to the break opening up a large gap. We came in at towards the back of the main bunch but all in all a great experience and a master class in railing 90 degree left hand corners.

Our third and last day was our second race day. It was taking place just a 5 minute drive from where we were staying so after a lazy morning we made it to the race start.

It was an absolutely disgusting day with extremely heavy rain. Having been warned the day before that Belgians couldn’t corner in the wet it was playing on my mind.

The very first corner two riders in front of me went down leaving a gap for me to close to get back on to the small bunch ahead. I chased for a lap but just as I was getting back on another rider went down on the same corner as the previous lap and I decided to call it a day. It was playing on my mind massively and I really didn’t fancy and end of season Belgian get down.

Jack went on to take a very creditable 15th with only 2 riders actually riding full race distance.

02.09.2018 – John Holman Memorial Race – 14th

A race that I had set my sights way back in July after the crash as one where I wanted to back to full fitness.

I wouldn’t say I was fully back however the legs did feel good. It was a course that particularly suited me however I gave it a good crack.

I rode an aggressive race but was another one where I couldn’t get the right people to follow. It came down to a very sketchy bunch sprint with a fast descent into a 90 degree left hander about 400m from the line. During the descent there were people all over the other side of the road going into oncoming cars causing carnage as they tried to force their way to the front. Not what I had been getting used to in Belgium on the completely closed roads.

I came across the line in 14th having wiggled my way up the left hand side of the bunch.

Not quite the end of season I had hoped for but after a two week break to go to Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Zanzibar I feel ready and rested for another strong winter of training to really attack next season from the get go. I’d like to thank everyone from Norwood Paragon who supported me this year, in particular Jack and Austyn.

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14/09/18

Racing Update #2 from Development Rider Jack Wyllie

Created by Marcus Brueton at 2018-09-14 13:05:58

With Uni out of the way and the 2.1 bagged, I got myself straight back into the routine of racing the Thursday handicap series and a road race each weekend.

Eager to get back to it after exams, my return to racing didn’t quite go to plan with back to back crashes at Cyclopark and then the Crawley Wheelers Nat B, luckily no damage done to myself or the bike. Thankfully the saying that “crashes come in threes” didn’t follow as I managed to stay upright and get myself round the next race unscathed.

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Mid-Week Handicap Series

The mid-week handicap races have been slightly different for me this season, predominantly set off in the scratch group, unlike last year where I often benefited from being placed in the first couple of groups with a hefty time gap. Whilst this has meant the chances of soloing to victory have been slim, the racing this year has been a lot of fun. With the emphasis being more on getting a decent workout in order to benefit the weekend road races, I’ve tried to be aggressive and make moves rather than sit in and take the points where I can in the bunch sprint. Consequently, my best results in the handicaps this season have come from breakaways, with 5th at the Laughton and Newdigate Surrey League handicaps and then at the Goodwood Tour of Sussex support race handicap. Whilst not the biggest races in the world, getting into these moves certainly gives me confidence that everything is moving in the right direction both tactically and in terms of strength as a rider. It would have been great to finish off one of these races and get a win, however each time I’ve learnt a little more which I will be taking on for the rest of the season.

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Road Racing:

Regional A road racing this season has followed a pretty similar, albeit slightly frustrating pattern. This was probably most evident at the Duncan Murray Wines Road Race. I had intended to race the London Dynamo Nat B at Milland Hill on that weekend, but with my Grad Ball in Loughborough on the Friday night, I decided it probably wasn’t the best prep for arguably the hardest race of the season, so instead I stayed up north for an extra night and raced the Duncan Murray. Hacking round 11 laps of Milland and it’s 25% berg will just have to wait until next year.

Keen to get in the early break I followed the moves of the stronger riders, eventually getting away just before half way, with riders from Spirit Tifosi, Morvelo Basso and a few others. With the group working well, I was convinced this one was going to stick. However just at the bottom of the drag up to the finish, we were brought back (fair play whoever did that!!), it was at this point attacks came, going straight over the top of us and forming the winning break. With 6 or 7 guys up the road I rolled in with the bunch, again not what I was hoping for but a fun race regardless. Although I am significantly stronger than I was last year and am reading races much better, so far I don’t feel the results quite reflect this.

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Regionals:

From the start of the season, the South East Regional Champs have been a bit of a target for me, with a top 20 (improving on 30th last year) I felt not an unrealistic aim, especially as I seem to go better in these attritional races.

Unsurprisingly a very strong field turned out to tackle the testing Lingfield circuit, making getting in the early move and still being there at the finish a fairly unrealistic ambition. Having already raced on the Lingfield course earlier in the season and paid the price of going very hard early on, I was conscious of saving as much energy as possible in the first half, although this didn’t stop the occasional rush of blood to the head and attempt to follow promising moves.

As the main break containing the majority of the expected names eventually slipped away, I was expecting the race to calm a little, however at halfway there was a significant split, breaking the remainder of the field in two. Initially the wrong side, I managed to see what was happening just in time and was one of the last riders to get across. With another group having broken off, we came into the last lap with myself in what remained of the peloton. It was at this point I was able to get into a strong group of four with two riders from Richardson Trek and Vitus joining us soon after, escaping what remained of the very depleted bunch. With my legs screaming in agony for the entirety of the last lap, I came to the finish in 21st, slightly misjudging my sprint to the line and getting rolled in the final few metres. Whilst gutted to miss a top 20 and my first National point, I will take 21st, hopefully something I can improve upon next year.

With a little trip to Belgium coming up and racing well into October, there is still plenty of racing left this season and I am optimistic that there are good results to come. As always, big thanks to Norwood Paragon for their continued support!

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08/08/18

Racing Blog update from Development Rider Jack Wylie

Created by Marcus Brueton at 2018-08-08 10:43:35

Racing update from Norwood Paragon Development rider Jack Wylie

Hi guys - for those of you that don’t know me, I’m Jack currently a Cat 2 rider in my second season racing and in my first season as a Paragon rider. I’m a little late in starting the blog this season, so in attempt to keep everyone’s interest I’ll break the season and blogs into three parts.

With this past year my final year at Uni, I decided it was probably best to put the racing on hold from late April to mid June, to focus on my exams and make sure the dreaded 2.2 was avoided. However, while I was home for the Easter break in March and early April I had some wet and wintery early season racing to get stuck into.

Wally Gimber:

Following the cancellation of the early Surrey League races due to the double beast from the east, unintentionally my first race of the season also happened to be both the longest and hardest race I’ve ever done, the Wally Gimber Nat B. Excited to finally get my season under way and test the legs, this excitement was quickly replaced with apprehension after seeing the start list which resembled a who's who of domestic pros, fresh from winter training camps. Either way this made survival the job for the day. Weirdly I actually find these races the most enjoyable, just being sat on the limit all day seeing how long I can survive.

After a frantic start, the day’s break went allowing the race to settle a bit. I spent the day, sat not so comfortably in the peloton trying to save all energy possible, well aware that the race could take off at any minute. In the end I finished towards the back of the main bunch. Not a particularly standout performance, but having been routinely spat from National Bs of lower quality last year, to survive this was definitely a confidence boost and evidence that winter under the new coach had worked. (@astutecoaching - check them out! They've honestly been brilliant, especially tailoring my training during exams)

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Tour of the Marshes:

Following Wally Gimber I had the Tour of the Marshes, another National B, lined up the weekend after. Despite lacking the depth of the week before, the field again was strong, as a result I was keen to really test myself and get up the road. Following the early moves, I was feeling good until around half way, when I hit a huge pothole left by the recent bad weather, giving me a rear flat. A little assistance from the neutral service and I was soon back chasing, trying to claw back the minute and a half gap to the group. I ended up spending a pretty painful half hour on the bumper of the neutral service getting back into the race, setting a new 20 min power PB in the process, so not all bad! However, after eventually rejoining the bunch it was confirmed by the other riders that the rattling that had been coming from my back wheel, that I’d been ignoring in my desperate chase back, was in fact a broken spoke in the wheel I’d just been given - race over. A frustrating end but again lots of confidence gained, giving me belief that I can do more than just get round National Bs.

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To end my small block of Easter racing were some Regional A races, the first of which being a Surrey League at Seale in probably the most miserable conditions I’ve ever ridden in. This was also the first time I raced alongside my Development Teammate George Skinner. The two of us were keen to make any early moves, almost taking it in turns to get up the road or follow attacks. It soon became pretty clear that the race was going out the back rather than off the front as the bunch depleted rapidly. Given the weather this wasn’t massively surprising, as I’ve never seen race ending mechanicals celebrated so much. Nevertheless with hands so cold that changing gear was a challenge let alone opening up a gel, we ploughed on, coming into the last lap with little more than 10 of the 50+ riders left in contention, leaving a depleted bunch kick inevitable. George picked up 3rd with myself in 8th. Not what I was looking for personally but a solid performance nonetheless.

Thanks for reading and hopefully I’ll have more success to report in the next post!

Jack

27/06/18

Norwood Paragon Women's Team builds momentum

Created by Michelle Arthurs Brennan at 2018-06-27 20:09:35

The Norwood Paragon women's team - Senza Paragoni (means ‘unparalleled’ in Italian - we'll keep reminding people for the first year!) - has been racking up results over the summer.

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The team - newly formed for 2018 - has been attending the Southdown Velo series at Goodwood en masse, having selected the circuit as a target because it regularly draws a larger women's field.

Goodwood has proved a successful base for the team to practice riding together, whilst elsewhere we've had Anna Marie Hughes flying the flag at BUCS road races, Michelle Arthurs-Brennan testing herself against some of the best in the country at the Cicle Classic and Good Friday track meet, and Carolyn Swan scoring 3rd in her Age Group at the UCI Gran Fondo event, the Tour of Cambridge.

Michelle Arthurs-Brennan

BC Points: 80

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Michelle has picked up two wins, plus a collection of podium places.

She also rode the Cicle Classic National Series road race on June 3, though with around 30 of 107 starting riders finishing, this was more a test of attrition than a hope at a result.

Her recent win was a Hog Hill, following a three rider break which consisted of Helen Ralston (Sigma Sports x Threo) and Dagmar Pfeifer (Verulam - reallymoving.com) and built up a lead of over 80 seconds on the London crit circuit renowned for its inclusion of the 'Hoggenburg'.

2018 results

2017/2018 - Full Gas Lee Valley Women's Track League - 3rd overall

18th Feb - Newchapel Women's Kermis (2/3/4 Women) - 8th

25th March - Sussex Cycle Racing League Closed Circuit Week 4 (E/1/2/3/4) - 1st

30th March - Good Friday Omnium - 14th

8th April - Lovelo Cinelli RR - 10th

12th May - CC London Hog Hill crit - 5th

15th May - South Down Velo Goodwood Crit - 3rd

20th May - Tesm Kent Crit - 3rd

22nd May - South Down Velo Goodwood Crit - 3rd

27th May - Dis CC Road Race - 3rd

5th June - South Down Velo Goodwood Crit - 2nd

9th June - CC London Hog Hill - 1st

Katharine Broadbent

BC Points: 23

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Katharine joined us from Geoffrey Butler women's race team, and has proved a pivotal member - working hard to lead our other members at Goodwood races, at the sacrifice of her own results.

On May 29th, she bridged to a strong break in the final lap at Goodwood, which almost held off the chasers behind. Unfortunately, as is often the case on the flat, wide and windy track, the gap was demolished in the closing metres but she still held on for 5th.

Not a rider who is keen to sit in and wait for a sprint finish, she gave it another shot on June 19, on the same circuit - this time holding the chasers off to take a solo win.

Katharine also picked up a win at the Surrey League Dunsfold Park 3W/4W Series, but a smaller turn out (perhaps due to very late announcement of the races) meant full points weren't on offer.

2018 results

1st May - Southdown Velo Goodwood Summer Series #2 (E/1/2/3/4) - 9th

18th May - Sussex Cycle Racing League Closed Circuit Week 6 (E/1/2/3/4) - 5th

29th May - Southdown Velo Goodwood Summer Series #6 (E/1/2/3 Women) - 5th

8th June - Surrey League Dunsfold Park 4ths & 3W/4W Series #6 (3/4 Women) - 1st

19th June - RC Ravenna FatCreations Goodwood - Round 2 - 1st

Gemma Hayes

BC Points: 8

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Image: Edwin Jones Photography

Gemma's come on really well at Goodwood, initially struggling with the chicane towards the end of the lap, but building confidence each week and achieving two top ten results.

She also played a pivotal role at the Team Kent Summer Crit, aptly taking to a crowd control role as Anna forced a break and Michelle bridged.

2018 results

18th May - Sussex Cycle Racing League Closed Circuit Week 6 (E/1/2/3/4) – 6th

29th May - Southdown Velo Goodwood Summer Series #6 (E/1/2/3 Women)- 10th

1st June - Surrey League Dunsfold Park 4ths & 3W/4W Series #5 (3/4 Women) – 3rd

8th June - Surrey League Dunsfold Park 4ths & 3W/4W Series #6 (3/4 Women) - 2nd

Anna Marie Hughes

BC Points: 48

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Anna has done an excellent job of combining university studies with bike racing - notably taking 4th and 11th at the crit and road championships respectively.

June has brought success for Anna, who won the Berkhamsted Castle Festival of Cycling crit on Sunday 24. She was also third at the VC Norwich Road Race the previous day.

Anna also bagged a top 15 result at the Cyclopark Grand Prix Team Series race - no mean feat with 51 riders on a closed circuit, many of whom were supported by larger scale teams.

Early in the season, she scooped up 2nd at the Team Kent circuit races at Betteshanger Country Park, which she helped organise in her capacity as Chair of the university cycling club.

The result followed a three rider break, facilitated by a strong attack and team tactics from Gemma, with a fast sprint finish in which she was edged out only by Zoë Bartlett (BowlPhish Racing) following a 'perhaps went a bit too early' leadout from Michelle.

2018 results

28th April - BUCS Circuit Championships (E/1/2/3/4) - 4th

29th April - BUCS Road Race National Championships (E/1/2/3/4) - 11th

20th May - The Team Kent Summer Criterium (2/3 Women)- 2nd

2nd June - Cyclopark Crits at the Park #4 (3/4 Women)- 2nd

10th June - Cyclopark Women's Grand Prix (Women's Grand Prix Team Series) - 15th

Carolyn Swan

BC Points: 5

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Carolyn joined us later in the year, moving on from Kent Velo Girls. Like Gemma, she’s gained confidence week on week at Goodwood, and showed her colour at the Tour of Cambridge Gran Fondo where she was 3rd in her age group.

The former runner’s target event for 2018 is the Women's National Masters Road Race Championships, where she came 3rd last year.

2018 results

22nd May - Southdown Velo Goodwood Summer Series #5 (E/1/2/3 Women) - 5th

3rd June - Tour of Cambridge Gran Fondo - 3rd AG

16/05/18

Season update: George Skinner

Created by Michelle Arthurs Brennan at 2018-05-16 09:01:58

Development rider George Skinner fills us in on his season so far...

I started the year in a very similar way to last year, training in Calpe. I spent 16 days out there over the New Year, the first week by myself then the second in a shared villa with Josh Copley, Sam Henning, George Clark and Charles Page.

After a few days of recovery I had my first physiological testing with TrainSharp in almost 10 months. The signs for the season were good with numbers being up across the board. The new training zones would be put to good use as the racing season approached.

My first few races of the season were all cancelled as snow and the “Beast from the East” swept across the country. This meant a lot of indoor training in the gym up at Loughborough University. Luckily, a trip to Mallorca with the Loughborough Students Cycling Club (LSCC) came around quickly and I was soon back in shorts and a jersey topping up the tan I’d worked so hard on in Calpe.

The first week of the trip was spent with LSCC riding some big kilometres and doing some Strava bashing. Most notably clocking a 31.07 on Sa Calobra riding at 353w, a massive power PB. I’ll have to go back soon to break the famous 30 minute barrier.

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Being in Spain for a month in the first four months of the year set a good foundation but little time to actual race. Now for the racing;

08.04.2018 – Surrey league Seale RR – Third

My first race was an attritional affair with riders going out the back instead of off the front. It was also my first ride with new development rider Jack Wyllie. We rode a strong race taking it in turns to try and get in a move but it came down to a bunch kick up the finishing hill.

I came around the slippery bottom corner fourth wheel and came across the line in third with Jack in eighth. A promising start to the season.

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10.04.2018 – Thruxton – Second

Two days after the surrey league road race I went to Thruxton Motor circuit. I was feeling strong and confident after Sunday’s race.

With three laps to go I jumped off the front of the bunch bridging to one rider that was off the front. We worked well together for a lap and a half before his legs popped. I then continued solo for half a lap before 3 bridged over to me for the last lap.

We came to the bottom of the hill with 500m to go and I attacked as the other riders looked at each other. With 50m to the line someone sprinted round me having been dragged up to me by a rider from another team. Not the result I had hoped for but one I was still happy with.

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14-15.04.2018 – Totnes Vire 2-Day – 40th

My first ever multi-day race, and a Nat B at that. My first Nat B of the season replacing the cancelled Les Ingman.

The opening stage was a TT up Haytor, I finished mid pack not quite hitting the power I had hoped to put out but I caught my minute man so it wasn’t all bad.

The second stage was a circuit race, unfortunately for me I was caught behind a crash, myself and two others chasing the main bunch for 30 minutes in order to reduce time lost. We were caught with about 15 minutes to go and I ended up losing a further six minutes on GC due to this.

The third and final stage was a rolling 110km road race. The road surface was good but the weather was not. A few sudden downpours drenched the peloton but I was determined to finish having travelled down to Devon. I ended up finishing 20th on stage avoiding a largish crash with 1km to go. Again, not the result I had hoped for but a really good experience.

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22.04.2018 – Stockbridge Down Road Race – 43rd

My second Nat B of the season. A very hot day with temperatures in the twenties, a stark contrast to Totnes Vire.

Coming down from Loughborough I went to drive the circuit to have a look at the main climb. A two minute bash leading into a few kilometres of drag before hitting a descent.

I punctured on the rollers adding to the pre race stress and forcing me to the back of the neutralised roll out. From this position I struggled to settle into the bunch, feeling like I was just hanging on all the way around. With two laps to go someone dropped the wheel in front of them on the drag after the main climb and a group of 15 (including me) was chopped off the back of the peloton never to be seen again. A lesson in positioning was learnt.

29.04.2018 – BUCs Road Race – 20th

My first ride for Loughborough University (and my first as the new road captain). We had sent a strong team of three with myself and Rob Rogers on team duties riding for ex-pro Tristan Robbins.

On a hilly circuit I rode a hard first hour (325w NP) in order to try and get in a break so the other two could relax a little. No break went but the bunch was whittled down greatly. About 1h30m into the race Tristan turned it on and a large group (including Rob) went up the road leaving me rolling around with an armchair ride in a depleted bunch.

Tristan finished 2nd, Rob 12th and I came in for 20th winning the bunch kick and sneaking in my first national point. I also set a new personal speed record hitting 93km/h.

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Between the BUCs and Surrey league races I changed the frame on my bike, down a size in order to improve comfort over long distances. This was achieved in one evening, swapping over all of the components from the original bike onto a brand new frame.

The Di2 was easy to install, the only issues were the bottom bracket not seating squarely and having to cut both the seatpost and fork to fit, stressful as getting it wrong could have been expensive!

05-07.05.2018 – Surrey league May 3-Day – 22nd

From start to finish it was just not my weekend. On the first stage, I rode a perfect race up to the point in which I punctured with 20km to go. After waiting almost 4 minutes for neutral service to arrive I completed the stage by myself losing 8 minutes on GC, infuriating!

Stage 2 was on a circuit I had ridden last season, where I suffered a broken spoke on lap 3. No broken spokes this year but people were going out the back at a rate of knots with punctures, the road surface was shocking. Paranoid after the previous day I thought my rear had punctured, I stopped to check but I hadn’t actually punctured leaving me with a few kilometres of chasing to get back to the bunch. It was another attritional circuit; again I rode an aggressive race but in a lapse on concentration I missed the move. Coming in 16th on stage and losing more time on GC.

Stage 3 was carried out on the Lingfield circuit, the number of riders was down as people had decided not to turn up leaving mainly the GC contenders. This meant that nothing was being let off the front with the biggest gap anyone achieving being 15 seconds. I was caught behind someone who unclipped in the final sprint crossing the line in 12th, just outside the points. Not my weekend, made even more annoying because my legs had felt so good before!

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12-13.05.2017 – Bournemouth Jubilee Wheelers 2-Day – 4th in GC

Day one consisted of a 1.2km hill climb prologue followed by a 14km rolling time trial. Finally some luck! I won the opening prologue by 3.5 seconds with a time of 1m46s producing 570w. The 10 second bonus gave me a 13.5 second lead going into the TT.

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Having never ridden a proper TT before I was nervous, I went in with the mindset of riding some TT efforts in training. I came in third place with a time of 21m03s averaging 41km/h and 345w. Not the power I would have ridden at in training but I was trying to get as aero as possible on the road bike. This left me third on GC just 0.3secs behind second.

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Stage 3 was on the hilly Lulworth circuit. Three went off the front two laps into the ten lap race. They built up a lead of 1m30s taking all the primes on the way. A group of all the main contenders (except the race leader) then went off the front of the main bunch with two laps to go. Working well together the break’s gap began to tumble reaching 15 seconds on the final lap. I climbed up the finishing climb to take 6th on stage and 4th on the GC, with two in the break leap frogging us. My best racing of the season, hopefully with more like this to come.

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