Tuesday, July 12, 2011

And what a week it was, not only for Guernsey cycling but in all sports, Guernsey cleared up on the medal table….
I always look forward to representing Guernsey, and as all Guern's are, am proud to call Guernsey home.  This time it was for the Island Games in the Isle of Wight.  I had a last minute change of plan and instead of riding the National Championship road race, decided to race in the Island Games Criterium which was the first cycling event of the Games.  

It was a warm day for the crit and we had a 5pm start.  First off though was the ladies race, and they did a cracking job with some great teamwork taking the individual and team Gold….A great start and left us guys feeling the pressure that extra bit more.  

After a big crash on the first lap of racing which took out a lot of the field, and left our stand in MTBer for this race, Mikey in hospital with stitches in a cut on his hand.  Also Matt had some sore looking road rash.  The organisers did the right thing and stopped the race for a restart.  Fortunately Matt was able to start again but we were down to four on the start line.  The second start was a bit less hectic but still the pace was pretty high.  As normal for the Island Games we were keeping and eye on the Isle of Man and Jersey as they were our strongest competitors but you can never count any Island out and the Isle of Wight had some handy guys there along with Saaremaa who again always put in a strong team.  With attacks coming thick and fast a break finally went with a good combination of riders and we all started working well together building up a good lead.  The attacks never really stopped from the bunch though and Dan, Josh and Matt did a great job at making sure nothing else got away or came across to the front.  It was an active break with almost constant attacks, everyone wanting to split it into a select group, but nothing stuck.  With two laps to go one of the Isle of Man riders put a big attack in but everyone had managed to jump on him, he sat up at the bottom of the descent at the back of the lap with about 1.5laps to go.  I took my opportunity and attacked carrying my speed into the corner and kept the pressure on going up the small hill through the finish, I looked back and saw I had enough of a gap so gave it 100 percent for the win…..I managed to hold on for the win and came home just a few seconds in front of the sprint for 2nd.  The rest of the boys meanwhile had a great race with Josh finishing 10th, Dan 12th and Matt 13th.  They had done a great job in keeping any other attacks at bay and stopping more riders from coming up to the break, so a huge thanks to them for their work.  With the teams collective results we got repaid by getting a Team Silver as well! Not a bad start to the Games for cycling!

Day two was the Mountain Bike Crit.  It was Guernsey domination from the gun with the boys riding an awesome team race with road like tactics, letting Robo "No1" Smart nearly lap the field and then demolishing the rest of the field taking 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 6th and Team Gold!  Earlier on the girls had again ridden a great race taking individual Silver 6th and 7th!.

Day three was back on the road for the road race.  It was a lumpy course and had one 2km climb each lap which we did 6 times.  It was again a pretty frantic start with Isle of Man team out for revenge having not made the podium in the crit…..They did a good job and were aggressive from the start.  With Matt having an unfortunate mechanical problem in the neutralised we were a man down, so had to cover a lot of moves.  A two man break eventually got a small gap on the field but wasn't too worry about at first, having nearly brought it back one other guy jumped across and the gap started to go out.  Feeling a need to get it back within jumping distance I attacked hard at the back end of the course which split the bunch and a chasing group formed with myself and James in.  Unfortunately for us there was only ourselves and a Jersey rider who didn't have a team mate up the road so nobody was working.  With the gap now over a minute it was upto us to chase otherwise we were going to be racing for 4th place, not what we came here for!  I knew that either myself or James would either have to jump the gap alone or work to bring it back….In the end I sat on the front for a lap and managed to get the gap within jumping distance for the next time up the climb.  James attacked up the climb and split the break, I got dropped with 2 Isle of Man and a Saaremaa ride.  Having done my bit, the rest was upto James.  He split the break again up the climb with a lap to go to just leave himself and 2 others.  On the last time up the climb they hit the bottom still together and it came down to a sprint over the top of the hill with the last 200m being downhill.  James got caught out in the sprint and came in for Silver.  I rode with the 3 others and came home in 8th place.  Again Josh, Dan and Matt had all ridden a great race, covering moves and controlling the race making sure nothing else dangerous got away.  Matt having had to chase for the first two laps to make it back to the peleton after his mechanical problem….Impressive!  They all finished at the front end of the bunch with Josh 12th, Dan 19th and Matt 20th.  Again this had left us with a Team Silver medal.  The Isle of Man had taken Team Gold again showing their strength in depth having 3 guys in the top 11. 

Earlier on in the day the women had ridden the same lap but in wet conditions.  With another strong showing and impressive team work similar to the crit took individual bronze and Team Silver.

Day four was a recovery day for all and with an evening start in the time trial the following day I decided to chill out and set my TT bike up.

Day five and it was TT day.  My least favourite event, by some way….It's pretty common knowledge that I have a dislike for TT's but as always was going to give it everything I had!  We all went for a spin in the morning to check out the bikes, course and spin out the legs.  Everything felt ok, well as best as it can do on a TT bike…The Ladies were first up and again showed their strength taking Individual Bronze and Team Gold.
We had a 6pm start and I was off around 6:55pm.  The course was two laps of a pretty lumpy course.  It went inland up and over a few ridges before coming back onto the coast road which was flatter and then finished at the top of the same 2km hill from the road race…..not nice!  This played into my hands though as its easier to concentrate when you have varied terrain rather than the standard flat TTs.  We all rode really well, with Josh having some bad luck early on with his saddle slipping costing him time throughout the rest of the race.  James came home 2nd taking Silver, I was 4th, Dan 10th, Matt 13th and Josh 14th…..This was enough to give us another Team Silver, and yes again behind Isle of Man.

Day Six was the last cycling event of the Games and it was the MTB XC today.  I went out for a spin and went to watch the MTB race while enjoying a BBQ in the knowledge that I didn't have anymore races!  The ladies were up first and took individual Bronze and Team Silver again. 
The guys were up next, with Mikey feeling much better after his crash in the road Crit he was really up for it.  A group of three including Mikey and No1 and an IoM rider went away from the gun, up the climb "No1" went off to ride at his own pace and left the rest standing.  Mikey meanwhile was having some bad luck, he punctured and so had to stop and fix that losing a lot of time, he then went on to snap his chain when he got back on his bike so again had to stop and fix that, very disappointed he carried on, only to get lapped and unfortunately pulled out.  The rest of the boys were riding well with Roeman fighting for 3rd spot, Andy in 5th and Danny in 6th.  Andy flatted and lost time fixing that which then put Danny into 5th and Andy a bit further back.  Roeman lost contact with his fight for 3rd place and that was how the race finished.  No1 won comfortably taking his 2nd individual Gold medal of the Games and the rest coming in so far up the field meant they took Team Gold as well!  What and end to the week….

As always it was a great week and for me personally as it's nice to catch up with people who I haven't seen in a while.  I am sure I'm saying this on behalf of the whole Guernsey cycling team that we had some great support while we were out there from team managers in Aaron, Paul and Gary so a huge thanks to them for their great efforts throughout the week making sure that everything went smoothly and we were catered for.  Without the hard work and efforts of the likes of them (and many others) for not just the week of the Games, but the months and years leading up to them proves that their efforts over the years of putting a lot into the development of the sport are really paying off.  Also having had such fierce competition to make both the road and mountain bike squads those that weren't fortunate enough to make the team can give themselves a big pat on the back for pushing each other all the way and making sure that the team Guernsey sent really were in the best form.  Cycling in Guernsey is jumping leaps and bounds at the moment and long may it continue into an equally or more successful Games and whatever else the future holds.

I will leave it at that as I have already written far too much for one blog.  Thanks for reading folks.  Please take a look at the "Island Games" album on the photo page, thanks to Andy Colver for the photos! 

Next Race