Time trialling finally got underway again after lock down as a belated Round 1 of The Decathlon UK Evening 10 Series by Wrekinsport saw riders and officials get used to operating under some strict temporary guidelines to make things Covid safe. The initial events are all restricted to Wrekinsport members, with pre-booking required to manage a rider limit and remove the need for handling cash in a usual entry-on-the-line format; but things will be opening up wider to allow other clubs to race from August when entrants have got used to the significantly different format. There was a palpable sense of relief that racing is back on the agenda amongst the competitors, who quickly adapted to the required changes.
The rider taking the top spot was one of the things that hadn't changed as Chris Halford powered his way around the Shawbirch-Cotwall Bank circuit in 22 minutes 11 seconds. Halford looked lean and mean as he floated past the finish line for the first time. Starting from No.5 he was the first rider home after using the four riders in front of him as carrots to chase as he made the best of the surprisingly windy conditions.
The rider finishing in runner-up spot however sounded a warning that he has been honing his form during lock down, with Tomos Hales getting within a minute if Halford for the first time. Hales was markedly improved from 2019, stopping the watch on 22:54, and it will be fascinating to see if he can get any closer as the season progresses. Both these riders are proponents of analysing the data thoroughly and gaining every technical advantage they can, and this could easily develop into an arms race.
Meanwhile it was a close-fought thing for the final podium place as Rob Jackson just pushed out a trio of chasing riders with a great effort of 24:01. This left 2019 Evening 10 Champion Rich Smith occupying an unfamiliar 4th spot seven seconds back, with Phil Roberts and Oliver Rodwell breathing down his neck on 24:17 and 24:20 respectively.
The Road Bike Championship was keenly fought, with Dan Ramsbottom taking the maximum six points on offer in this category with a fine effort of 27 minutes exactly, with runner-up Derek Fleming back on 30:34.
There were two notable characteristics of the event with three women in competition, with Bethan Till taking the plaudits with a fine 28:03; and many first-timers, with Clare O’Donnell in her first ever time trial whooping with delight as she crossed the finish line in 35:27 after being nervous of entering and needing encouragement to do so. 24 hours later however she stated “I’m still buzzing! It’s fabulous; the whole thing was nowhere near as intimidating as I thought it would be - so many shared words of support and encouragement as they flew past me”! Almost immediately signed up for Round 2, O’Donnell now has a benchmark to aim for, adding: “I’m going to try and average 17.5 mph next time”.