The last round of the Imperial Winter Series was at yet another extremely windy Saturday at Hillingdon.
This was great news for me. The wind was blowing along the home-straight just as it had for the last few weeks so I had plans to rectify my poor sprint positioning from Round 10.
I was still suffering from illness and had spent most of the previous 36 hours lying in bed feeling sorry for myself, so I was determined to get some fresh air in my lungs.
Due to the strong wind, I didn’t expect any breakaways to stay clear so my plan was to bide my time and hold off for the sprint.
I was wrong, a few riders got away and stayed away. I didn’t have the lungs to chase them down so my aim was to now get some points.
About half way through the race, the sky darkened, the mood changed and hail hammered down. The block headwind became gusty and suddenly, about three riders ahead of me, I saw a back wheel where a helmet should have been. In just a split second riders were flipping and tangling right next to me. It was the first series crash I had witnessed in a road race and the sound of metal scraping and flesh thudding was quite chilling.
Thankfully, a little detour onto the grass saved me from injury but left me with a tiring sprint back onto the back of the field.
Five laps to go signalled yet another rise in pace but I was determined to wait. In fact I waited until the very last lap and made my way quickly through the field to position myself in about 5th place going into Brian’s Bends.
As was the case last week, riders faded quickly into the strong headwind and I was left sheltered until 50 metres to go.
A strong London Dynamo rider looked like he was going to get it but I dug deep, came up on his right shoulder and lunged for the line, winning the bunch sprint by a tyre width.
A great result which went according to plan – well almost… Shame about the breakaway!