London Nocturne: what’s it like to race in the dark?

Riders raced in low light around the historic Smithfield Market, with the ability to negotiate the dark course key to victory. Words by Maria David

Under the Smithfield floodlights Ed Clancy (JLT Condor) seized victory in a 10-man sprint for the line in the Jupiter Elite Men’s criterium, whilst Katie Archibald (Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International) rode to an emphatic victory in the Women’s Schwalbe Elite Criterium following a lone attack.

Being able to negotiate the technical circuit, reversed and raced anticlockwise, under the night sky was key in bagging a win.

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As the rave music pumped and the crowds thumped the hoardings under neon lights various riders including Chris Lawless (Team Wiggins), Tobyn Horton (Madison Genesis) and combativity prize winner Andy Fenn (Team Sky) constantly attacked.

Jupiter London Nocturne 2015, by Chris Keller-Jackson

Ed Clancy wins Jupiter London Nocturne 2015, by Chris Keller-Jackson

Speaking to Cycling Weekly afterwards Clancy explained, “I started off wearing bright shades thinking that this would take out the glare of the lights but I had to take them off part way through the race as I was better off without them. The best tactic in these night time races is the closer you stay to the front the better. It means you stay away from crashes. Technically, I was on a knife edge, racing at 98% the whole time.”

Earlier in the week Clancy had been denied victory at Canary Wharf in round 8 of the Tour Series when he was out-sprinted by Australian National Crit champion Steele von Hoff (NFTO).

Winning the Nocturne a special victory for the JLT Condor team who had been denied victory on their previous appearances on the streets around the historic market.

The podium was completed by Chris Lawless and von Hoff. “I did a few night-time crits in Melbourne,” the Australian said. “I love the format and the crowds are fantastic. I just have to concentrate a bit more in the dark.”

Earlier in the women’s race, Archibald left the field behind as she rode to a solo victory. This saw a change of fortunes from last year when the Scot crashed on the final corner.

Jupiter London Nocturne 2015, by Chris Keller-Jackson

Jupiter London Nocturne 2015, by Chris Keller-Jackson

“I had trouble racing in the dark last year with there being so many lights which distract your vision, but this year I had yellow lenses which just brightened things up,” Archibald told CW.

Second place went to another Scot, National Circuit Race champion Eileen Roe. Victim of a couple of crashes during the race, the Wiggle-Honda rider had team support from team manager Rochelle Gilmore who had come out of retirement to race while the rest of the squad was contesting a world cup race in the US.

“I love racing on technical circuits,” said Gilmore. “When the sun goes down it feels that bit faster. On the straights it was harder for me but it was great to be able to float through the corners at speed.”

Last year’s winner, Nicola Juniper (Team Giordana Triton) finished in third place.

Jupiter London Nocturne 2015, by Chris Keller-Jackson

Katie Archibald wins women’s race, Jupiter London Nocturne 2015, by Chris Keller-Jackson

London Nocturne Santini Elite Men’s Criterium

1. Ed Clancy, JLT-Condor, 00:57:21.3
2. Chris Lawless, Team Wiggins
3. Steele von Hoff, NFTO
4. Mark McNally, Madison Geneis
5. Andrew Tennant, Team Wiggins
6. Tom Scully, Madison Genesis
7. Andy Fenn, Team Sky
8. Tobyn Horton, Madison Genesis
9. Marcin Biablocki, One Pro Cycling
10. Lloyd Chapman, Richardsons Trek, all at same time

London Nocturne Schwalbe Elite Women’s Criterium

1. Katie Archibald, Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International, 00:38:36.6
2. Eileen Roe, Wiggle-Honda
3. Nicola Juniper, Team Giordana Triton
4. Becky Raybould
5. Rochelle Gilmore, Wiggle-Honda
6. Emily Kay, Team USN
7. Charlotte Broughton, Corley Cycles Drops RT
8. Henrietta Colborne, Bonito Squadra Corse
9. Katie Curtis, Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International
10. Annasley Park, Team Giordana Triton

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