Dan Watts missed out on equalling his own course record by one second in a windy evening for Round 5 of the SB Sports Injuries Series as an enforced course change saw Wrekinsport's Hanna Phipps-Jones Handicap move from the traditional two laps of the Cotwall Bank – Shawbirch circuit to an 'out and back’ trip between Shawbirch and Hodnet due to road works. Pressed into service for the first time since 2020, Watts stormed around the 18 mile course in 38 minutes 30 seconds, averaging just over 28mph. After health issues in 2021 and a slow start to 2022 Watts was back with a bang, beating Tim Beardmore by 49 seconds in what proved to be a tight contest for the runner-up spot. He commented: “Really pleased to take the win, it was a brutal ‘out’ leg into wind for a solid nine miles, but I savoured the sensation of a return tailwind. One second between my 2020 ride and this year’s, can’t complain at consistency. Good friendly event as always, there’s worse ways to spend a Wednesday evening”.
Beardmore was one of four riders recording a 39 minute effort, beating Revolutions Racing's Dean Callister by 15 seconds in 39:19 with a strong performance, powering through the wind. This saw him take victory in the Veteran's competition with a fabulous +9:19 to beat Bridgnorth CC team mate Jonathan Mills-Keeling who just scraped inside the 40 minute mark by two seconds and posted a fine effort of +8:31 in the Veterans. Beardmore's comments show how hard things were: “A strong cross/head wind made for a tough outward leg. I found it tough going for the whole race, but managed to maintain my power to the finish. A strong ride by Dan to take the win - thanks to everyone at Wrekinsport for organising”.
Mills-Keeling extended his SB Veterans Series lead to a huge 30 points on the strength of this ride but saw his Overall Series lead cut by two points in a straight head-to-head with Wrekinsport's Tomos Hales, with Hales finishing 4th in 39:46 12 seconds ahead of Mills-Keeling. Despite that the Bridgnorth CC rider was well pleased to be returning to form: “A much better ride after a disappointing weekend of racing, it was nice to back on local roads. A tough headwind out but a nice tailwind home, thanks to all involved”.
Callister's post-race comments meanwhile reflected the consensus about the evening's character-building nature: “A tough outward leg with the headwind but I held what I could, just glad to be back racing again at the moment. A great win by Dan - thanks to Wrekinsport for a great evening of racing”.
In the Women's competition a first-timer surprised herself despite being under-geared with just a 46 tooth chain ring, as Laura Sheppard took the Overall win in 50:27, 1:04 ahead of Wrekinsport's Clare Cotterill. She enjoyed that firt experience, stating: “Going into the race with no expectation having never ridden a time trial before, I wanted to gain some experience. I was surprised and happy to take the win - hard going on the out leg, hanging on for the return; a well organised and friendly event”. Cotterill who was trying out an unfamiliar bike added: “A tough night riding into a headwind on the way out. Thanks for the support from marshals on the course”.
Ben Southgate headed to the top of the SB Junior Series with a great effort of 43:06. The 15 year-old is getting faster and faster and is clearly showing that upping his training load is beginning to pay dividends: “It was tough! All the training paid off. I'm proud of my time, getting stronger every week”.
Wrekinsport members were competing for the Hanna Phipps-Jones Handicap Trophy which rewards improvement, and with the handicaps applied Southgate took Bronze in an adjusted 35:36 behind Gold medallist Ashley Kirkham (33:31) with Bob Elliott taking Silver (34:48).