Jonny Croston 4th in National Clarion Road Race

Jonny Croston (left) edged out of a Clarion podium place by Nottingham’s Michael Jones (2nd right)

Arrived at the circuit to see plenty of Clarion colours on show including Nottingham, Stockport, North Cheshire, Saddleworth, Malmesbury (I’ve never heard of it either!), West Lothian, Fenland, Heanor and Crewe. As usual there was plenty of ‘bling’ on show with carbon wheels aplenty whilst I rocked up on my trusty 1997 aluminium trek complete with odd wheels and a new inner tube after the valve disintegrated when I tried to inflate the rear tyre.

I did a few laps of the circuit to warm up. It’s essentially a 1.5 mile triangle with one hairpin and two more gradual bends with a finishing straight that gradually rises uphill. There was a pretty stiff breeze that meant a tail wind after the first corner, a cross wind for the 2nd ‘straight’ and a cross headwind up the finishing stretch.

After a brief introduction the over 50s were set off and allowed to get 3/4 of a lap before the main field was released. There were 35 starters and it was clear from the start that Nottingham with 7 or 8 riders were going to be strong along with Andy Parr of Revolution Fitness.

It wasn’t long before the attacks started usually involving Nottingham and Andy Parr.  Fairly early on I managed to latch onto  an attempted break by what seemed to be a strong group with a number of Nottingham riders and Andy Parr and a gap began to open. The break lasted a couple of laps before the main field chased it down and everything came back together.

 After 30 mins some of the weaker riders had been tailed off and there was a repeated pattern of regular attacks by Nottingham and/or Andy Parr with the bunch attempting to shut them down whilst other Nottingham riders either soft tapped on the front or tagged onto any chasers. This continued for a number of laps until there was a bit of a lull after around 45 mins. At this point a Stockport rider got away but was never likely to be a threat due to the wind that made individual breaks very difficult to sustain.

Nottingham Clarion Riders massing on the front. Courtesy Notts Clarion Web Site.

The pace started to grow again as we approached 75 mins and the last 5 laps. There were more sustained attacks and with the catching of lapped riders there were opportunities to attack in the confusion. After chasing a couple of attacks I was having a breather in what remained of the bunch when I realised that 3 riders, including Paul Searsons (Nottingham) Andy Parr and Joe Clarke (Fenland) had got a decent gap. Nottingham riders were again massed at the front and there was no chase. I made a sustained effort to chase but it was clear that hardly any other riders were willing to come through and the gap had grown too big to attempt to bridge in the headwind. I swung off and waited to see if any of the other teams would try and close the gap.

There were one or two attempts to drive the bunch on but no other teams had enough strong riders to pull back the break. It seemed the break would succeed and with 3 laps remaining I decided to sit near the back and wait until the final lap. As the bell sounded the break was well away. The pace upped with the tailwind but soon slowed once the hairpin was rounded as nobody wanted to work with the finish less than a mile away. I sat right at the back of the diminished bunch and waited to turn the final corner into the headwind before starting a lengthy sprint for 4th. As we neared the line four riders remained in contention and despite a final lunge I was edged into 5th – or 4th Clarion Rider).

MIB had won, edging out a Fenland rider with Nottingham taking 3rd and 4th. All in all a pretty enjoyable race. Perhaps next year there will be a few more Calder participants as it’s clear, even at this level, a strong team can make the difference.

Jonny Croston

1 Andy Parr  Revolution Fitness
2 Joe Clarke  Fenland Clarion
3 Paul Searson Nottingham Clarion
4 Michael Jones Nottingham Clarion
5 Jonny Croston Calder Clarion
6 Simon Cullen Saddleworth Clarion
7 Richard Birkin Nottingham Clarion
8 Duncan Mclaren Stockport Clarion
9 John Hughes Nottingham Clarion
10 John Holmes TLI
11 Justin Dawling Stockport Clarion
12 Simon Pateman Saddleworth Clarion
13 Geoff Burgess Strockport Clarion
14 Max Girdler Malmsesbury Clarion
15 Greg McCullum  Nottingham Clarion
16 Simon Dale Nottingham Clarion
17 Andrew Price Crewe Clarion
18 Ian Clarke Fenland Clarion
19 Matt Hacker North Cheshire Clarion
20 Ian Shapiro Stockport Clarion
21 Adrian Hughes North Cheshire Clarion
22 Iain  Elliot West Lothian Clarion
23 Jennifer Taylor West Lothian Clarion
24 James Peckover Nottingham Clarion

Over 50s Race
1  Peter Free Heanor Clarion
2 David Princer Crewe Clarion
3 Paul Morphet Crewe
4 Rob Holmes TLI

Nottingham Clarion Photographs
North Cheshire Clarion Blog

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