Race Report: Bedford 3 Day – Day 1
This year the Bedford 3 Day celebrates its 25th birthday, reportedly making it the oldest women’s stage race in the UK. 3 Days of racing encompassing 5 stages. This year that’s: a prologue ITT of 2.73km followed by a 50.4km road race on Day 1; a team TT of 10km followed by a road race of 80km on Day 2; then on Day 3 a final road race of 76km. A well known, and challenging 3 days, which as Neutral Service points out has often been a showcase for the world class cycling talent of the future.
The prologue started at 10am, with riders going off in reverse order, the course was short enough that the basic pace was ‘all out, all the way’. This was the second ever TT I’ve done and first where I actually knew how I should be pacing myself. My throat was burning when I finished, I could taste blood for about 20 minutes after, but was quickly reassured by team members and coach Huw that means I did it right(!).
I did it in a time of 05:28, which placed me 49th in the field of 90. I’m quite happy with middle of the field considering how technically incompetent I still am with TTs! The top 5 places were
- Amy Hill of Cycle Team On Form 04:49
- Joscelin Lowden of Aprire Cycles – HSS Hire 04:53
- Anna Henderson of Cycle Team On Form 04:56
- Alice Lethbridge of Lovello Squadra Donne 04:59
- Amy Jones of Aprire Cycles – HSS Hire 04:59
- Gemma Sargent of Cycle Team On Form 04:59 (all 3 drawing for fourth place?)
Then everyone attempted the fine balance of eating enough but not too much in the time before the road race start at 1:30pm. It was a long neutralised section, and everyone in the bunch of 90 was quite twitchy, this being a much larger bunch than many of people were used to racing in. I positioned myself well to the front, particularly as the race started just after the crest of a hill, and a bunch of 90 can stretch quite far, if the elastic snaps when it shoots off on the front. I didn’t want to be left in a chase group. Afterwards I heard there were at least 2 crashes in the neutralised section, another good reason to try and position forward!
The race then started as it meant to go on, as one big bunch steadily shedding riders off the back. This was definitely the most terrifying bunch I’ve ever ridden in, in part a useful huge peloton riding experience and in part some riders just genuinely being choppy at hell. A lot were taking the easy route on the outside of the bunch to move up but not pushing to the front and then moving back onto the left side of the road, instead just sitting on the wrong side of the road, sometimes into blind corners. Then whenever oncoming vehicles pushed those riders in, the rest had to quickly reposition or brake suddenly; unideal. Les Filles did a great and much needed job of policing the behaviour in the peloton, they may have raised a few eyebrows throughout the race but they had my (and many others’) full support as they shouted at riders to move up or move over.
For the first third of the race my positioning was good, at one point I got really annoyed at how choppy some people in the bunch were and as I moved to the front just decided to attack so I could spend 10 seconds not worrying about other wheels, I actually got a decent gap but no one came with me so just let myself roll back as I didn’t fancy 2.5 laps on my own. I went backward a bit too quickly when caught but was saved by Nicole Oh from Les Filles giving me a bit of a push 😉
There were sprint and QOM points on lap 2 and 3, don’t quote me on this, but I grabbed a snapshot of the points from someone’s notebook, and did some maths, and I think this is roughly accurate for those standings:
- Joscelin Lowden – Aprire Cycles-HSS Hire: 6 points
- Amy Hill – Team On Form: 5 points
- Natasha Reddy – Team Vision Innovative Leisure: 4 points
- Corinne Clark – Team Ford EcoBoost: 3 points
- Jenny Corser – Team RGB Building Supplies: 10 points
- Jo Smith – BowlPhish Racing: 4 points
- Adele Martin – Team Ford EcoBoost: 3 points
- Joscelin Lowden – Aprire Cycles-HSS Hire: 1 point
The race then went into the final lap, by this point I had totally lost the psychological fortitude to keep forcing my way to the front and I never felt like I was struggling to stay on the back so I didn’t have much motivation either! I’m learning that a lot of the exhaustion in this kind of racing isn’t affecting my legs so much as my positioning. I keep on ordering myself to move up, but after a while I’m more just ordering myself to watch the dodgy wheels.
As we rounded the last bend onto the dual carriageway that held the finish line I was towards the back of the bunch but ready to find my way through for maybe a top 25, unfortunately at that point there was a big crash. Bikes flying kind of crash. It happened just forward and to my right, I found my way around it and finished maybe 5-10 seconds down on the bunch. The first 3 across the line were:
- Tamara Davenne – Team Vision Innovative Leisure
- Amy Hill – Cycle Team On Form
- Maddie Gammons – Team Vision Innovative Leisure
Congrats to those riders! Unfortunately, according to various reports the leader of QOM, and one of the favourites for the overall win Jocelin Lowden came down hard in the finish line crash and was ambulanced away with what looked like a broken bone at least. According to Coach Huw there’s “a crash there every year”. Wishing all who crashed speedy recoveries!
Now I’m sat with my feet up, and hoping to fall asleep early enough to recover well for tomorrow! Today was only supposed to be 50km but me and my teamies’ Garmins read 70km 🤔
Tomorrow: TTT and the Long RR, here’s hoping the bunch will be a bit calmer…