Cowley Road Condors Road Race on Sunday was round 4 of the Oxfordshire Road Race League (ORRL), with Stars competing this time in both the men’s and women’s races.
Based at Marlborough School in Woodstock, the 7.5-mile Tackley circuit comprised some narrow country lanes, with gravel in the middle, two sharp 11% climbs and a smaller 4% drag. Conditions started off wet and damp, but gradually improved during the day.
Representing the men were, Josh Lovell, Danny Marron, Nick Nixon, Stuart Quick and Oscar Strange. Incidentally, Nick entered the race as the current individual ORRL leader. The team should have comprised six riders, but unfortunately Ed Anderson picked up an injury the day before. The race, for Cat 3/4 riders, started at 9.30am consisting of 8 laps.
Drama immediately hit the team, as lining up for the race briefing, Josh realised he had a puncture. Fortunately, some impressive, F1 style pit work by Stuart and Danny, managed to sort it all in time for the start.
The pace was fast from the word go in the damp drizzly conditions. The terrain, particularly the gravel, wasn’t great and you could hear a few tyre blowouts due to punctures. Unfortunately, on lap 4, Oscar became another puncture casualty half way up one of the climbs and was forced to retire. At this stage in the race the fast pace had left a bunch at the back of the field, which included Stuart and with a time gap of over 5 minutes, the Commissaires decided the bunch had to retire.
When the sun came out a couple of riders made a break, including one from London Dynamo, the series leaders. Two other London Dynamo riders were fast to react and made sure they got to the front of the group to control the pace. They did a great job of this and ensured they had three riders in the top five places, as they were never caught.
Going into the final lap, Nick made sure both he and Josh were ready to lead out Danny who was blocked in a bit. However, he managed to weave himself out and get on the back. Coming up to the final corner Josh led out Nick and Danny for the sprint to the finish, pulling off and making sure they both carried enough speed around the corner to sprint the final 250 meters. A good plan, with Danny claiming 6th and Nick rolling across in 10th, both ORRL points scoring positions. Josh rolled across in 24th, after his successful lead out.
With a win and two other top five positions, London Dynamo increased their lead in the ORRL, but a great effort from our Star riders consolidated their second position in the league, from Reading CC in third.
In the afternoon, the women’s race for Cat 2/3/4 riders took place over 6 laps and representing the club were Hayley Holland and Peggy Simpkins. The field comprised of around 50 riders and was round 3 of the Women’s ORRL.
Hayley and Peggy during the early laps
Thankfully the weather had now warmed up a bit and even though it was windy, conditions looked fine for a good afternoon of racing. After a neutralised start, the race commenced along the main road, before narrowing onto a country lane, where riders were only able to ride two-abreast. Positioning was therefore vital here as the rolling hills approached.
On the last climb of the first lap, both Peggy and Hayley rode well to stay in the main bunch. Unfortunately though, Hayley’s chain then came off, causing her to stop mid-climb to put it back on. This delay was a big disappointment and trying as hard as she could, there was now too much of a gap to close back up to the main bunch. Peggy remained in the race and did a cracking job to stay with the Peloton, finishing 24th. Banbury Star remain 4th in the Women’s ORRL.