Rob Hurd rolled back the years to take his fourth victory in the 50th anniversary Wally Gimber road race in Kent on Sunday.
The 40 year old crossed the line alone 15 years after his first win in the 75-mile event having dropped the rest of the 14-strong breakaway in the closing miles.
Younger riders studying the start sheet may have discounted the second-category veteran from the list of potential contenders, but the vastly experienced Hurd, with 12 seasons of Belgian racing under his belt, led them home.
?I chose the least obvious place to get away ? a flat, windy, exposed, dead straight road where they could see me ? and bludgeoned a 20 second gap,? said Hurd.
The DHC Colnago rider has done little racing in recent years due to work commitments but the tragic death of team-mate and former Europa Two-Day organiser Derek Witt last year led Hurd to hang up his racing wheels. Swedish Olympic silver medallist Emma Johannson talked him round and Hurd celebrated his return with this win, dedicated to Witt and his family.
The Winchester man is almost embarrassed by the lack of training put in over the winter. The Wally Gimber win comes off the back of a grand total of one month’s preparation.
?I went into DHC to buy some shoeplates four weeks ago and I came out with a Colnago and a bag load of kit,? said the apologetic Hurd. ?I have been going out with a local club on Sundays with the medium group because I didn?t want to get involved with the fast group: they looked a bit keen.
?I have got a big engine because I have been doing it for years and know how to get myself in form. I thought the Gimber would be two or three weeks too early, but the weather was on my side,? said Hurd, referring to the unseasonal shorts-and-sleeves conditions on Sunday. ?I have won it before when it has been snowing,? he added.
The veteran has a renewed enthusiasm for racing and regular business trips for the company, Chocolatier Isabelle, run by Hurd and his fiancée, will see him back on the start line in Belgium.
?I can rock up over there and it is just like turning the clock back,? he said. ?Obviously, you need a modicum of condition to take part in kermesse races. I have still got a supporters club over there that pester me to race ? in the nicest possible way.?
2009 Wally Gimber road race results
1. Rob Hurd (DHC Colnago)
2. David Creeggan (VC Meudon)
3. John Heaton-Armstrong (Fit-For)
4. Mark Daly (private member)
5. Richard Mason (Fit-For)
6. Herny Furniss (WyndyMilla)
7. Grant Bayton (Sportsbeans/Wilier)
8. Roger Smith (Wildside 707RT)
9. Chris McNamara (Team Corley)
10. Rob Enslin (AWcycles.co.uk)