Britain’s cycling obsession hits Leighton streets
THE sport of road cycling has never been so popular – and now any budding young Bradley Wiggins or Mark Cavendish from Leighton Buzzard and the local area won’t have to travel far to hone their skills.
That’s because, around 18 months ago, a group of like-minded friends from the town decided to take their passion for cycling to another level.
And last Saturday the Leighton Buzzard Road Cycling Club hosted its first ever race as 51 riders from around the region hit the streets of Mentmore, as part of the History of Sport event.
From humble beginnings, the club now boasts more than 50 members, including an elite racing squad and riders who simply enjoy taking part in the sport, working their way up through racing grades.
Competing in all manner of road racing events, Leighton’s green, white and black colours are starting to become one of the most recognised team jerseys on the local cycling scene. And the exploits of members has even seen ‘Team Green’ represented in Scotland recently.
In fact some Leighton riders event went international in September when they took part in the London2Paris2London to raise money for charity – the name of the event pretty much speaking for itself.
So it was about time the club’s racers got the chance to compete a bit closer to home – a 50 mile circuit consisting of 12 laps with the short but draining climb in the village of Mentmore before a flat sprint finish.
The race began at Cedars Upper School and there was a mass procession through Leighton – supported by British Cycling’s National Escort Group, paramedics and support vehicles – before heading out of town and towards Mentmore.
Once the riders had left the neutral zone in Ledburn, the race was on. Immediately a couple of riders went on the attack, earning a few seconds lead on the rest of the field.
Over the next couple of laps a group bridged the gap and there were soon eight riders away, steadily increasing the time between them and the rest of the group.
The group of eight worked well together to maintain a consistent gap and managed to stay away for the majority of the first half of the race. By lap six the group had a comfortable 1m 15s on the rest of the field.
But by lap four the main group started working together to bring the time down to 56s.
At this point it became evident that if the group could maintain the pressure then they would bridge the gap. By lap three the lead had reduced to 40s and the break was now very much in sight.
And by the time the second lap came the break was all but caught, however two riders, Robert Orr from Velo 29 and Justin Belcher from Banbury Star, increased the pressure and got away from the remainder of the break and the fast approaching group.
Once the final bell had sounded Orr and Belcher had a comfortable gap and only had to hang on for the final 4.17 miles. The rest of the group was now together and it was sure to be a sprint finish for third place onwards.
Orr and Belcher turned the final corner and only had 600 metres to the finish line, Orr stole a few bike lengths off Belcher in the final sprint and took an excellent win, crossing the line with both arms raised,
As the main group turned the corner the sprint was on, David Palmer of Spin Rotor Racing put in an impressive race with Mike Twelves of Team Jewson/Thule hot on his wheel as they claimed 3rd and 4th places respectively, followed by Greg Pain of Team Arbis LLP in 5th.
The rest of the field sprinted across the line to take the remaining points in a brilliant display of road racing, with the Twenty3c squad putting in a great display to win the team award for having the three highest placed riders.
For Leighton, Julian Thrasher was 39th home, followed by Neil Bradbrook in 42nd, Stuart Tillbrook 49th and Tim Edwins 50th.
The event was a great success, and the club’s thanks go to all the riders for putting on an entertaining race and all the marshals and helpers for their time to make the race possible in the first place.
With this year’s racing season now over, the club is interested to hear from people who would like to get involved in 2013. Log on to www.lbrcc.co.uk to get in touch if you fancy a piece of the action.
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Weather for Leighton Buzzard
Monday 20 May 2013
Temperature: 11 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 15 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 6 C to 15 C
Wind Speed: 17 mph
Wind direction: North