I have been looking forward to the Totnes Vire race throughout my winter training. I’ve raced it 3 times in previous years and it has always been a hard race… the combination of Devon terrain, weather, and strong riders makes the whole thing tough but exciting.
The weekend of this year’s edition of the Totnes Vire comprised of 3 stages… a hill climb TT up Haytor Dartmoor on Saturday morning, a 1.5 hour criterium at the Torbay Velopark circuit on Saturday afternoon, and a rolling 90 mile road race around Avonwick and South Brent on Sunday morning.
We set off from home at 7 in the morning to Bovey Tracey, Dartmoor, on a nice dry but foggy day, for a hill climb time trial up to the Haytor summit, probably the most brutal climb in the south west, and used previously in the Tour of Britain.
I haven’t ridden the Haytor climb before, so in hindsight I should have made the time to do a recon before the TT. I pushed too hard at the start, and ended up blowing up in the final push of the climb. There were no marker signs on the course to show how many km were remaining, and I made a mistake at one point when I started sprinting, as I thought I was near the finish line when I saw a car park and a marshall, until I realised that there was more climbing to go!
It was so foggy that you couldn’t see the finish line until the final 80 metres! I knew that I had mis-judged it when I crossed the line, but it was my own fault as I should have arrived earlier and recce d the climb. You live and learn.
Result: 43rd out of 80 riders.
After my mistake in the tt, I was still only about a minute away from the top 10 in the GC (General Classification) which had been my goal. The second stage was a fast crit on the closed circuit velopark in Torbay. I knew that I needed to finish with the bunch to stay within sight of the top 10 GC, so my aim was to stay well placed near the front and follow the main GC contenders.
A surprise GC race order placing of riders by the commissar at the start line meant that I was further back in the bunch, but during the first part of the race I was gradually moving my way up to the front on the tight circuit. I was feeling good halfway through the race, and was ready to maintain position, to fight in the bunch finish and keep a good time – but unfortunately a rider went off the course into the grass, and he attempted to rejoin the bunch and he went down in front of me. I had no time to avoid. I flipped over somersault and landed on the tarmac hard. I felt some agony, a pain in my hip which caused me to get up slowly, and I didn’t have time to get back on the bike and catch the peloton fast.
It was frustrating, but luckily I was allowed to race the next day, but I was given a time penalty on the GC.
Since I was out of the GC battle, I had no pressure for the Sunday morning 90 mile hilly road race in South Brent. It was raining, but not much.
I tried to save my legs for the right moment to attack during the race. There were lots of attacks going on, but eventually it was a 4 man break that got away. With about 25 miles to go, I went with my gut instinct and attacked on the climb, no one reacted, but I knew it was risky. I powered away from the peloton, and after a few miles I created a decent gap, and the bunch were out of sight. But when the course changed direction I hit a strong headwind, and on the last lap with 10 miles to go, I was caught.
In the approach to the long drag to the finish line, I attacked, but I wasn’t strong enough, with knackered legs, and then the bunch behind accelerated and overtook me. I should have held back on the attack and saved my legs for the final drag.
Result: 38th (40 riders finished the race)
GC Overall: 42nd out of 80 riders.
Was it a good weekend? I’m not sure. I still have mixed feelings about it, I could have saved my legs for the last few kilometres where I could have attacked and maybe got in the top 10. I know I was strong enough, but I wasted my legs during the solo attack. I’ve made a few mistakes over the weekend, so I’ve got to learn from them. It could have been better, but anyway I have to look forward now. It was my first Elite race of the season. I’ve got more elite races coming up and I’m eager to get results, the best thing is that it’s still early days in my race season yet!