Competitors keen to test their winter fitness will be hoping that the wind conditions are light over the Fens for the Ely & District CC ‘hardriders’ 25-mile event on Sunday.
The 34th edition of the race could prove a tough test if the wind is blowing strongly across the Cambridgeshire countryside.
The course is described as ‘typical Fens’ with half the circuit on some challenging unclassified roads and the other half on relatively fast single carriageway A-roads.
Starting and finishing outside Little Downham, competitors take on a 25-mile loop heading out towards Wentworth and then across to Ely. They then head up the A10 to Littleport before a tough section across to Pymoor and then to the finish.
Despite its reputation last season’s event provided good conditions as Rob Walker (WardPerformanceUK.com) and Sophie Holmes (Saint Piran) set new men’s and women’s course records respectively.
Walker flew around the 25-mile course in a winning time of 54 minutes and 25, while Holmes broke the women’s benchmark in 1-01-40.
“Last year was probably the best conditions that we’ve had for a lot of years,” said organiser Simon Butteriss.
“The year before that was just horrendously windy. At the minute it looks like we might see a bit of sunshine, but relatively cold and a reasonable breeze.
“There will be some interesting conditions, particularly the section from Littleport which can be a block headwind.
“The Hundred Foot Bank section has particularly challenging road conditions. It’s an old Fenland concrete road with tarmac on top. There’s a mixture of subsidence and cracks in the road. It’s pretty rough.”
A good mixture of riders including a strong showing of students from Cambridge University and road bike competitors are set to compete in this year’s event.
Last season’s runner-up Joe Adlam-Cook (Cambridge University CC) will be hoping to go one better this time out and Chris Holmes (VC Norwich) is scratch man.
Veteran Sarah Kelman (St Ives CC) will start last in the woman’s event, while Paul Beattie (Royal Air Force Cycling Association) is amongst the road bike competitors.
“We’ve not got a bad sized field for February,” added organiser Butteriss.
“It usually draws a field from a reasonable distance considering the time of year which is quite encouraging.”
Also on Sunday, Central Sussex CC will be holding their third hilly 10-mile time trial on the GS/186 course near Pease Pottage.
More competitors on road bikes then time trial machines will tackle the course and test their winter form.
Veteran Ian Braybrook (Basildon CC) will start as scratch man on his time trial bike after finishing runner-up last season.
Meanwhile, a competitive road bike field includes the likes of Ferenc File (Horsham Cycling) and Theo Tadros (TrainSharp) for the early season test. The only female competitor is youth rider Ana Mason (VC De Londres) who is also competing on a road bike.
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