Staffer Dan Duguid is part of Cycling Weekly’s Tech team and rides for the Sigma Sport/Specialized/Sportful squad taking part in the Premier Calendar series.
This year’s Chas Messenger took place just outside of Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, a scenic area with winding country lanes that provided a tough course for both days.
A 5km time trial kicked off the three stages in two days with a 120km road stage in the afternoon. On the Sunday there was a 140km stage to finish the weekend off.
Practice riding the TT course there was only one tight bend to worry about and a slight climb, that seemed to sap power out of the rider, over the top there was then only 1km to go. With the team on our SRAM Red equipped Specialized SL2 road race bikes, I was the only one lucky enough to have one of the new Transition?s, the same one that I rode the Duo Normand on last year with Rob Hayles.
Our two newest riders, Andy Bye and Wouter Sybrandy also had their own TT machines. I managed a good ride for my form at the moment, coming 22nd on this stage, around 30 seconds down on Hayles. Seeing him on the course he was incredibly smooth, almost like it was effortless, he assured me it wasn?t! Local boy Wouter managed an excellent 12th and was the first man in from our team.
Moving to the afternoon the second stage was hard and fast. Coming to the line for the second lap for the sprint points I tapped onto the back on Simon Holt from Recycling/Rapha/Condor, taking third in the sprint, we both drove it hard along the top and hearing Matt on the radio telling me to go as we had a good gap we both persisted. It was never going to stay away with the speed of the bunch but it was even shorter lived when the lead car, motor cyclists and marshals all seemed to not know the direction of the race and sent us, then the bunch in the wrong direction.
The remainder of the race was pretty flat out with a dangerous break going on the last lap that included Russell Downing and Rob Hayles. PCA missed it and where chasing on the front. Matt had us help them out but in the end it was just Matt and me helping chasing it down. In the end Russell Downing took the stage and moved into Yellow. The whole team finished in the bunch with the exception of Mike Harrison who had punctured and got back on twice but this had taken a lot out of him and Neil ?Swifty? Swithenbank who had punctured near the feed zone along with Tom Southam. Our drafted in mechanic, the injured Alex Wise, gave his wheel to Tom that didn?t help his chase back on.
A fast third stage not unlike the second saw the bunch lined out on many sections of the course with the race being neutralized by the larger teams with riders high up on GC. It was only with two laps to go that things got hectic, coming into the feed zone there was a lot of riders moving all over the place and desperate for a bottle I had some nodder, missing his own bottle took mine.
With the race never splitting after the feed zone, this was my first assumption and a downfall. I was a bit too far back and when a crash happened with the story being that whilst lined out the guy looked back over his shoulder whilst in the gutter and hit the curb, Doh! Anyway he went down split the bunch and with many people giving up it was a fight to get back on.
Unfortunately, it was lined out as Recycling and Pinarello where hammering it on the front. Caught a little on the hop me and Andy where left chasing with a few others, managing to hold it at 20seconds for almost half a lap but it was never coming back and even riding hard we lost a load of time that dropped us out of the top 30 to almost last. That?ll learn me.
Next weekend: the Lincoln Grand Prix, possibly my favorite of the Premier Calendars that I have ridden.
Dan at the East Midlands Classic