Brief report of the Essex Road Race at East Hanningfield on Sunday 26th April.
2pm on a drizzly Sunday afternoon saw 38 women racers, some racing for their first time and some seasoned racers, come together to compete at the first ever Essex Roads Women’s Race.
The 70km race took eight laps around a circuit in East Hanningfield, consisting of tight bends and huge pot holes on the technical climb which also marked the finish line for the race. It was the second race within the Women’s Eastern Racing League, a newly established league to give new women racers something to aim for in the East.
Francesca Rust of Newmarket Cycling and Triathlon Club, taking on her second road race, took to the line against some very established category riders. Holding her own in the bunch throughout the race, learning the tactics at play, Rust pushed herself both physically and mentally.
After a two rider break-away the dynamics of the race changed dramatically from an aggressive bunch race to a more tactical, mind games race. Some riders not wanting to sit on the front knowing that this race will now result in the remaining riders finishing in a bunch sprint. Rust, on the front with a MuleBar racer, contemplated a two-up breakway, but the bunch responded quickly. Rust took another few turns on the front but not too much to exert too much energy, deciding when, if at all to make a solo attack. Knowing climbing is not her strong point (especially having just got back from a weeks training in the mountains of Italy). Coming in to the finishing stages of the race, Rust was on the front heading into the corner in a bid to get a good position into the climb and to not get taken out on the corner in the chaos and to avoid the pot holes, she held on but just didn’t have the legs to keep on the front and slipped back as riders came up behind. After spotting the line, Rust took a swift look and spotted a rider coming up her left, determined not to lose another place she dug as deep as she could and just pipped the rider to secure 10th place in the 2 hour race.
This race saw Rust’s first British Cycling racing point and first top 10 positioning, hopefully the first of many. A great race, with great support from both the organisers and the spectators.