THE first event of the 2012 Percy Stallard Series, promoted by Newcastle Racing Club 2001/Modern Glass/Vecta Velosport) was held on Sunday, April 15.
A fine, sunny but very cold weekend saw Belper BC members Bill Cotton, Mike Allen and Derrick Woodings travel over to Swynnerton in Staffordshire to race five laps of a 10.5-mile circuit for riders of 60+.
Although the sun was up the air was still very chilly. The course was a triangular circuit with two long North-South legs, connected by a short steep hill around 2k in length.
With a stiff Northerly breeze the Southern leg was extremely fast, but on the return leg North it made the going very hard.
The first attack was by Nigel Harrop (Seamons CC); he went on the long tailwind section, easily building a 20-second gap.
This was allowed to stay by wiser heads in the bunch with many of the experienced riders knowing that fighting a headwind in cold conditions saps the strength quickly and after lap two Nigel was pulled back in.
This series of events is always very tactical as the strongest riders in each age group rides to conserve their positions.
Sure enough all attacks were chased down. It was a war of attrition and coming into the final lap there were only half of the starters left in contention (about 15-20 of the original field).
All of the Belper men were still there and the final 5k to the finish and into the wind it was difficult to predict the winner. Mike Allen was watching his main rival, Richard Booth (Teeside) and Bill Cotton also in that age group was keeping a very low profile waiting for the final sprint for the line.
Derrick Woodings was in the fortunate position of having shed himself of all his age group opposition early in the event, so all he had to do was finish with the group.
Although he did try a lone attack with 2k to go He was not allowed any leeway. The man controlling all attacks was one of the top 60+ riders of the moment; that being Alan Kemp (Manchester).
With 300 metres to go cresting a short Hill before the slight uphill to the line, Mike attacked hard but was pipped by Alan and Don Parry (Northampton), and just keeping his wheel in front of Richard Booth.
That was the actual result of the race on the road. The age group results were: 60+ Alan Kemp, 65+ Mike Allen and 70+ Derrick Woodings. Bill finished 6th in the same group as Mike. The standings after event 1 in the series is therefore also as above. Derrick and Mike six points, and Bill one point in their respective groups.
The circuit was extremely hard, not only because of the weather conditions but by the profile; on each lap there were three main climbs plus several smaller ones to negotiate. Mike played a wise game, not being a noted climber, conserving his strength for the finish.
Derrick just made sure that he stayed with the younger riders whilst watching all his rivals get tailed off.
His main rival from last year, Ken Haddon was a non-starter and Bob Richards (Solihull) with whom he had a tussle at Pinvin three weeks ago, blew up with two laps to go, the others being nowhere.
All three Belper riders had sore legs afterwards, with it proving the hardest outing this year so far.