Race Report – Mark Coombe – Westpoint 25/4/17

I have had a mixed year so far. This was my first winter working with Conrad and I was in great shape in February and raring to start racing. Training to be competitive as a cyclist is so different from my previous life as a footballer, even at my relatively low Cat 3 level. My pre-season race training was 5 months with one day off per week rather than 2 months of complete rest, 3 weeks of training and then straight into my first match. I also spend more hours training now for my hobby than when I was a full-time professional. My food and drink intake is far stricter now. The only nutritional advice I was ever given as a pro was not to drink 48 hours before a game. To a bunch of ignorant footballers, that meant getting smashed every Wednesday; Outstanding logic.

Anyway, I came third in my first Crit and was pleased that my hard work was rewarded. Unfortunately 3 days later I was knocked off my bike whilst training and fractured my kneecap. Luckily I recovered relatively quickly but my fitness suffered from the enforced break. The last few weeks have seen my fitness and sharpness improve and 4th in last Saturday’s Crit gave me confidence going into  Tuesday’s race at Westpoint.

Unusually there were only 2 Mid Devon riders involved so we agreed that one of us should try to get into a break if it looked dangerous. Early on there were a few attacks but none stuck as it was quite windy on the uphill drag to the finish. I decided to sit in the bunch and wait until the business end of the race rather than waste energy in a break. So 30 riders went round and round in circles with nothing happening for the next half an hour. Both Harrison and I were in good positions for the last 2 laps and when the attack went on the bell I jumped onto the wheel and was in fifth on the penultimate corner. I smashed it on the long straight and was second into the final corner. I nailed it and was first out and into my sprint. The line was approaching but not quite quickly enough as I was overtaken about 20 metres from it. I was second by a bike length and Harrison came in sixth after being hampered on the last corner. That elusive win has still not happened yet so it is on with the training and one day it will be my turn.

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