Wrekinsport CC Hannah Phipps-Jones 19
The heavens opened to make Round 5 of the SB Sports Injuries Series a tricky one as riders battled the elements in Wrekinsport CC's Hannah Phipps-Jones 19. Held over two laps of the club's normal Shawbirch - Cotwall Bank circuit, the cold affected some more than others as Dan Watts took the win in a fine time of 42 minutes 40 seconds for victory by over a minute. Watts made up some ground on Series leader Chris Halford to move into fourth spot in the Championship and clearly put some effort in doing so, recording a course personal best despite cursing the foul weather that blighted the event. He stated: "What could have been a quick night with a favourable wind was scuppered by wet and cold weather. Like most the urge to dive into the HQ after the first lap was strong. I was pleased to take the win and PB for the 19 mile time trial, kudos to any who raced, marshalled and spectated the race in those conditions".
Watts wasn't the only one making up ground on Halford as Hafren CC's Ian Nisbett put in a strong effort to beat the Wrekinsport rider both on Overall and on Veteran's Standard. Leading off the field, Nisbett was in no mood to hang around and was happy to get the ordeal over with. His actual time of 43:42 took the runner-up spot and pushed Halford into third by 14 seconds, whilst he won the Veteran's competition with a fine +7:08, five seconds ahead of Halford when the age-related standard was applied. He commented: "I can’t say I enjoyed it much! I started strongly, but my performance dropped off earlier than expected so I just tried to keep the speed up and take a breather where I could. My visor started to mist up during the second lap – which actually helped as I couldn’t really see how far from the finish I was"!
Halford didn't enjoy the conditions, and revealed that a mechanical problem upset his usual smooth rhythm - despite bettering his 2018 ride by 1:07. Down nearly a minute on Watts at the end of the first lap Halford had a quite evening by his high standards: "It went badly - I don't go to well in the wet and cold. My seat post clamp worked loose which was causing issues. I eased up a bit on the first lap and nearly stopped, but then decided to carry on". Halford now has a six point lead to Nisbett in the Overall Championship whilst in the Veteran's Series he holds a four point advantage over the same rider.
Taking third spot in the Veteran's Rich Smith just saw off the attentions of Ian Pollard by seven seconds to record a solid +5:38. But he wasn't finished there as he took Bronze in Wrekinsport's Hannah Phipps-Jones Handicap, the same position as in 2018 with an adjusted 42:34, whilst it was a close call for Gold and Silver with Bethan Till just seeing off Tomos Hales by a solitary second in an adjusted 41:15. Smith commented: "I managed third in the Hannah Phipps-Jones last year - I remember it being substantially warmer and dryer though! I really enjoyed it despite the rain. It was wet and cold but with no wind to speak of which helped. I was pleased with the ride, it was actually worse for the marshals, helpers and timekeepers than for the riders, so thanks to them"!
Four women took the line, with SCCA Private Member Alison Dockney taking the win with a fine effort of 51:43. Like Nisbett she also had trouble with her visor as the rain stopped and the course gently warmed: "Heavy rain started half way round lap one and the visor on my helmet fogged up so I had very little visibility from then on. I think I found every single pothole so was glad to get round with no punctures! Well done to all who braved abysmal conditions and fingers crossed for some sunshine next round! A thoroughly miserable night for marshals and timekeeping". Dockney beat Hafren CC's Louise Hurdley into the runner-up spot - though Hurdley's 54:44 moved her up into the lead of the SB Women's Series, holding an advantage of eight points over Dockney.
In the SB Junior Series a nascent talent continues to grow as Henri Bedford added another 20 points to his commanding Junior title defence with a superb personal best. Bedford bore down on the finish line using all his strength to set an excellent time of 45:31 to capture sixth spot overall and set a fabulous 32 point Junior Series lead in the process. He commented: "I was pleased with my performance given the horrible conditions and somehow managed to improve in course time from last year. Well done to all those who turned out to ride and marshal. Here’s hoping for better conditions next time"!