The first medal of the SB Sports Injuries Series was captured as the top two in the Overall Series finished at the top of the standings in Round 5, Wrekinsport CC’s Gordon Davies 18 Handicap. Series leader Henri Bedford saw his Overall lead cut to just two points thanks to a powerful ride by Dan Watts – but sealed Junior Gold or the third year running. Watts stormed around the 18 mile Shawbirch – Hodnet ‘out and back’ course in 38 minutes 29 seconds, beating Bedford by 13 seconds. Watts didn’t hold back despite being entered for the UK ICT Shropshire Championship 25 the following morning, finishing extremely strongly on the slight drag to the finish line. Aside from Bedford, Watts had ex-professional Liam Holohan to consider, and Watts’ competitive nature wouldn’t see him fail to put up a good fight, especially with Holohan starting just a minute behind him on the road; but with Holohan failing to finish an enthralling battle frustratingly came to nought.
The unfamiliar distance also threw Watts a curve ball as the planned two-lap 19 mile course frequently used was sidelined due to long-term road works. Watts was satisfied with his efforts and acknowledged that things were getting exciting between himself and Bedford, with two points being the closest dividing margin possible: “It’s always hard to judge this sort of distance, especially on a double header race weekend, so I’m pleased to come away with the win with Henri pushing me close. Cheers to the organisers and helpers again for making the event possible”.
16 year-old Bedford has got better and better as this truncated season has progressed and was encountering the D18/4 reserve course for the first time, although being entirely on the A442 he was well aware of the road involved, incorporated within many County courses. Bedford stopped the watch on 38:42 20 seconds ahead of Stourbridge Velo’s Matt Cooper who snaffled third place 30 seconds ahead of CC Bridgnorth’s Jonathan Mills-Keeling who was making his Series debut. Bedford wrapped up the Junior Series in record time with the maximum available 126 points, putting him in an unassailable position with just three rounds remaining – the SCCA’s Autumn 10’s. Bedford stated: “I enjoyed doing a distance I had not done before on very familiar roads. It was quite hard in the wind out, but I enjoyed the wind in my favour on the way back from the island. Well done to Dan for winning and to Wrekinsport CC for hosting the event”.
There was a familiar name at the head of both the Women’s and Veteran’s SB Series as Nova Raiders’ Deb Hutson-Lumb scored a seemingly inevitable double win as she gets used to a new bike. Hutson-Lumb finished a superb seventh Overall in a fine time of 43:14, with closest challenger Emma Serjeant of Hafren CC 3:01 back, ably demonstrating the power of Hutson-Lumb’s ride. When converted to Veteran’s Standard Hutson Lumb again finished top of the pile in +10:22 ahead of Mills-Keeling on +8:41. Hutson-Lumb battled through the northerly headwind up to Hodnet, and made the most of being bowled back – always a favourite of time triallists. Her comments reflect the brief film recorded of all starters which aim to help riders develop the unfamiliar art of clipping in – a Covid-related restriction due to social distancing: “I really enjoyed the ride with the tough outward leg being rewarded with a fast tailwind assisted return. I managed to make better use of the wind and keep more consistent power on throughout the race. Pleased with my time and love the start line videos. Many thanks to all involved.”
SB Women’s Series leader Helen Blake has doggedly tackled all the unusual distances with gusto, and was rewarded by retaining her lead and won two Wrekinsport club medals as a bonus, with the promoting club running their Gordon Davies Handicap within this event. Blake stopped the watch on 57:52, which when her handicap was deducted saw her win Women’s Gold and Overall Silver, only beaten on handicap by Mike Bigwood who was delighted to win a club trophy.