Steve Whittington reports:
Wet Wet Wet
Myself and Paul Basson were in action at the 2018 edition of the famous season opener, the Eddie Soens Memorial on Saturday 10th March. With single digit temperatures and the prospect of rain forecast, I’ve gotta be honest, I could have as easily stayed in bed that morning!
The race is run in a ‘handicap’ format, meaning groups separated by age and category are set off with time gaps, with the elites setting off 3.5 minutes behind the first group which consists of juniors, ladies, and 4th cats, and two groups in between containing other category riders.
Around 160 riders lined up, and with two professional teams rocking up this year, JLT Condor including olympic and world champion Ed Clancy OBE, and Vitus Pro Cycling, it promised to be an interesting race.
Conditions in the race were atrocious, with the Aintree racing circuit being soaked by heavy downpours prior to the race. At around 30 miles of racing, the elites had caught the groups in front which had amalgamated into one big peleton.
Attack Attack Attack
As soon as the elites caught the main group and made their way to the front of the race, the speed went up considerably with the attacks beginning immediately as the main teams tried to gain an advantage. After a couple of laps of attacks and counter attacks, a group had formed a strong break away with a couple of groups in between trying to close down on the main break. With all the major teams represented in the break, any attempts to bridge the gap or to try and chase were quickly closed down. All that remained was the usual procession around the wet circuit with groups sprinting for the lower places.
The race was won by JLT Condor rider Jonathan Mould, with Matt Bottrill in 2nd, and Ed Clancy 3rd. Both Paul and myself finished in the main peleton.
Race distance – 47 miles
Time – 1hr 43mins
Avg speed – 26.7mph