The League International held their annual 2 day/3 stage race last weekend, based around the New Forest and Downton. Organiser and time trial legend Glenn Longland always puts on a great event and this year was no exception.
James Chant, Vince Hounsome and Josh Day took part in all three stages, the first of which was a hillclimb. Josh finished in 13th with 4 minutes 29, Vince was 26th with 5.01 with James 33rd in 5.19. Junior rider Will Stephenson (Bournemouth Arrow) set the fastest time of 4.04.
The riders were then split into four handicapped groups for the afternoon road race. As always, the riders had the usual ponies, pigs, sheep and donkeys to negotiate out on the New Forest roads, all adding to the action as the race ebbed and flowed as the groups of riders split up or were caught.
At around two-thirds distance, most of the riders had formed one large bunch with the E/1/2 cat riders chasing hard behind. A few riders got dropped from the back of the lead bunch, unfortunately this included both Vince and James. James put in a big effort to bridge back across but couldn’t quite make it but then managed to latch onto the rear of the Elites as they came through. These riders caught the leaders with about a mile left to go, leading to a bunch sprint up the final steep ramp to the finish. Josh did well in the final push for home, coming in 12th, while James was the last rider over the line in the lead bunch in 22nd. Vince finished a couple of minutes further back in 27th. The race was won by Tony Kiss (Stratford CC) in 1.09.45.
The following morning saw the final stage take place, a hilly 37k time trial. Chris Mullett and Sarah Roberts competed in this as well. Vince Hounsome rode really well, finishing with a fast time of 1.00.01 (11th) even though he had been badly held up by traffic for a long time on the narrow roads. James also had a couple of small hold ups and a close shave with a cow near the end, but was pleased with his time of 1.03.51 (16th). Josh struggled in the hard headwinds over the last few miles with his non-aero set-up, finishing 22nd with 1.07.12. Chris came home in 1.12.28 while Sarah finished in 1.25.23. The tt winner was the sensationally fast Stephen Whitewick (GA Cycles) who set a new course record of 53.32.
Once all the calculations had been done, Stephen Whitewick was declared the overall winner with a total time of 2.07.54, ahead of Harry Bulstrode (Cannondale) and Will Stephenson. Vince was 14th overall (2.17.03), James 16th (2.18.55) and Josh 22nd (2.21.26). Ashley Martin and Rob Martin (Chippenham Wheelers) were 12th and 26th overall, with Ashley taking fourth place in the road race.
In the team awards, James and Vince had been teamed up with Will Stephenson, a very promising junior rider who seems to be able hillclimb, road race and time trial very quickly indeed. Will’s efforts overall, Vince’s strong tt and James managing to hang onto the lead group in the road race saw them take 3rd overall behind the GA Cycles and Southampton Stars squads.