Round 2 of the 2014 Imperial Winter Series marked my first E123 race. I knew the pace would be higher but I was pretty sure that the lack of wind and dry conditions meant the race would stay together until the end, so my plan was to stay near the front and stay out of trouble.
As usual, the first few laps were fast paced, with the 80 or so riders jostling for positions. I few breaks were attempted but nothing stuck. I followed a couple of breaks to test my legs but it was very clear that you’d have to have immense form to stay off the front.
After a lull in action, the 5 laps to go board signalled the usual panic in the peloton. A number of riders started taking increasing risks to follow wheels. I felt it was safer to stay on the inside line, rather than in the middle of the field and wanted to be at least top 10 going into Brian Bends for the sprint finish.
During the last lap I managed to position myself pretty much where I had hoped to be and the sprint was opened up. It was a total free-for-all and two riders rode right into each other right in front of me. The crash was dramatic, with sparks, wheels and limbs flying. Instinct took over and I swung dramatically left, off the course, narrowly avoiding a rider’s head by millimetres, then managed to squeeze back on to the course past the spectators gazebo, rolling over the line in total relief.
But that wasn’t the end of the drama as rogue bikes and riders caused a series of other crashes, culminating in a dramatic finish for one guy flying upside down over the finishing line.
I was extremely happy with my 5th place under the circumstances – thanking my lucky stars I stayed upright at the end.