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.
The East Midlands Cicle Classic has become established in the last couple of years and is one of the toughest and best races that the UK has to offer. I was lucky enough to be selected to ride this event, as there are only six riders per team permitted to ride.
The weather all week looked like it was going to be wet and windy, I was hoping that my cross skills where going to come in handy and in the back of my mind was really praying for a bit of rain, as then I might stand a chance! We had a team plan of looking after three riders who where ideally suited to the course, Matt Stephens, James Williamson and new recruit Wouter Sybrandy.
The rain held off for the entire race that didn?t have the initial speed of last year. The bunch seemed to roll round the reservoir for the first two laps with a small group going clear no one was organised or chasing. The slow speed of the bunch didn?t stop the big bunch crashes though in this early part of the race. With one big crash it was all looking too familiar to last year but luckily I avoided any skin loss!
Hitting the dirt for the first time, the roads really tighten up but I was managing to move and hold my position in the bunch well taking advantage of techniques picked up during a couple of cross seasons and avoiding hitting anything hard and puncturing.
The dirt was where the pace was being forced and then the following rolling hills which where slowly dropping people out of the bunch. A big split at one point left two of our protected men, Wouter Sybrandy and James Williamson in the wrong half so a chase was needed. By this point I had given out all my bottles and been missed in the feed zone so I was feeling really iffy and it showed.
All back together through one of the sectors I was just too far back and when there was a mistake by a couple of riders it split and I just missed getting back on as I watched the race ride away. By this point Andy Bye and Wouter had both punctured but where on their way back up. This left Matt and James up front, James having to give Matt his wheel after a puncture cost him a higher result but Matt was on good form with this puncture ultimately costing him in the end. Wouter came through strong in the end and Andy and myself finished in a group just out of the time limit.
Rutland is a really hard but well organised race and worth its International status. Colin clews has done an excellent job not only by creating a unique race but also involving the local areas, the crowds where excellent and seemingly each small village after the sectors had good crowds and the odd BBQ.
Once it was all over, I was delighted to see that I had come 12th in the results. Unfortunately this was a mistake and it was actually Matt Higgins but his number was misread. A quick email to Colin quickly cleared it up but for a short period I had one of the best results I have ever had!