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.
Up near Newcastle, the Beaumont is a real hike from my place in Hampshire and not the best of drives up pretty much the whole of the M1.
This is the first time I have ridden this race and without scouting out the course I was relying on Matt Stephens and the other guys on our team who had ridden this race to let me know when the upcoming obstacles such the Ryles, which is the main climb that looks something not too dissimilar to a wall as you approach it, and the narrow sections of road on the course.
Something that was a great surprise and helps to make this event so good is not just that the small village of Stamfordham that the race starts in being happy about the onslaught of cars and racers all turning up to ruin their otherwise peaceful Sunday afternoon with a very talkative commentator but the roads are incredibly quiet. This gives a very raceable course, creating one of the best races this season.
Sigma?s team plan was to designate certain riders to help Rob Sharman, Matt Stephens and James Williamson should they need anything with Wouter Sybrandy a free reign and with his recent results he had the form to be a surprise to the rest of the bunch. Myself, Neil Swithenbank and Alex Wise where to be the riders to chase down any early moves if there where no Sigma riders in the break.
This worked to plan for the first couple of laps with the attacks being kept under control as people threw themselves up the road, it was only the break that contained Tom Southam that we missed but so did PCA! Wouter Sybrandy in the meantime was between the two groups and was looking good and over the race radio we heard he and the group he was in made it to the leaders. He unfortunately punctured and being given a wheel with a low 13tooth sprocket struggled to hang in the group in the descents loosing ground, eventually retiring.
Whilst this was happening the bunch was accelerating as Hayles had gone up the road and a response was necessary. The third time up the Ryles climb Matt was struggling (a big surprise) a little after his dig earlier and was dropping of the splitting bunch group. Seeing this from about six riders back, I was too far down the bunch this time up, I knew Matt needed to get back in.
Coming alongside him I towed him back up into the group just as the hammer went down from the likes of Dean Downing amongst others, unfortunately I was in the red enough to get popped out the back, but the job for the day was done. I was then left to finish the race in a smaller group for the three remaining smaller circuits.
Rob was having a stormer with this his second premier of the season, bridging across to the Hayles group and was up there along with Pete Williams so it was looking good.
Unfortunately, lack of racing miles saw Rob blow towards the end so Matt was our highest placed rider in 14th. Having punctured on the smaller circuit of the race and having to chase back on with the help of our teammate, Mike Harrison.
It was a good showing by the team riding near the front and contributing to the race enough and a good sign for the next block of Premier Calendar races.
Rob Hayles won it and was looking impressive all day with Pete Williams and Russ Downing in third with his broken hand!