Blaine Carpenter and Jonathan Ward both gain 3rd Cat status at MK Bowl.

Three of Banbury Star’s race squad, Blaine Carpenter, Ian Maconnachie and Jonathan Ward took part in the second round of the Milton Keynes Bowl March Criterium on Saturday. Held on a closed, multi-lap 40km circuit, the field of 40 riders encountered slippery conditions following heavy overnight rain.

Ward and Carpenter tried for an early breakaway in the 4thcategory race, but couldn’t open a gap on the pursuing pack. Quickly reeled in, they pursued different strategies for the majority for the race. Unnerved by the wet, off camber corners, Ward slipped to the back of the bunch, hoping to stay out of trouble. Unfazed by the conditions, Carpenter worked hard to control the race from the front, looking for opportunities to force another break.

After a volatile start, the pace of the race stabilised. The short, hilly circuit didn’t suit Maconnachie, who lost touch with the main group at around the half-way point. It then looked to be turning into a war of attrition, but a big mid-bunch crash at the 40-minute mark transformed the run into the final, taking around half the remaining riders out of contention.

All the Star riders kept clear of the mayhem, but Carpenter’s strategy paid off best. Well out of trouble at the head of the pack, he was able to press on with dozen other riders. Slowed by the incident, Ward had had to fight for three laps to regain contact with the leading group.

In the final minutes, Carpenter came close to success with another break attempt, going clear with another rider for two laps. It wasn’t to be a day for breakaways, however, and hard chasing by the rest of the group brought the leaders back together for a bunch sprint.

Carpenter very nearly took that too, edged out for an impressive second place, while Ward slipped through the group to take 4th on the line. More importantly both riders scored sufficient points to promote them to 3rd Cat status. A great result for the efforts of the race squad so early in the season.

(Many thanks to Jonathan Ward for providing the majority of this report)