Unfortunately, we weren’t able to attend the London Nocturne this year due TDCC racing at The Tour of Cambridge (of which we will have a full run down soon!). But we weren’t going to let one of the biggest events on our home turf go past with out getting the low down on what went on.
And so, Introducing!..
Lina Bivainyt from Velociposse Cycling telling us about her experience in the Track Bike Criterium.
And the return of Owen Blandy! Giving us a post race briefing on the ELF performance.
The Mango Bikes Criterium was a hotly anticipated part of this year’s London Nocturne. Fuelled in part due to the Red Hook Crit Series which will visit London for its second year this July and the growth in both new and existing fixed gear teams.
The field was largely comprised of UK teams such as The 5th Floor, La Classica, Das Rad Klub from Bristol, Nvayrk, North London Thundercats, Full Denim Jacket, State, Defi and ELF plus 4 single women such as my team mate Lina from Velociposse, Leeana from Why Be Normal?, Stefania Baldi representing Desgena and a single rider from Germany.
Disappointedly the women’s field was a confused affair as women were initially not able to ride with men however on the eve of the event some of the more enthusiastic contenders were allowed to race, this leading to a somewhat diminished representation.
Racing for 20 minutes plus 3 laps in a brand new circuit around St Paul’s the group quickly split… disappointingly Lina got caught in lap 1 by an unknown rider who overcooked it into a corner and knocked her down momentarily. She got up and continued to race, but now her chances of doing well in such a strong field were going to be small.
Due to riders of all categories and abilities competing together, it quickly became a race of two halves and the race was absolutely dominated by a group of 10 lead largely by Alec Briggs (La Classica) with his other team’s members from the 5th Floor – Alex, George and Reece, Andrea and Raffa (La Classica), relatively new contender Matt Payne, who has just joined ELF and his team mate Owen plus Thundercat Dimi and Nvayrks Fede. These guys, who are all experienced in racing with each other compete regularly in track events and fixed crits. Unusually for racing, some lapped riders remained on the field so spectators got to see a fair amount of fear and action from the pace groups interacting but it felt like hard work for some of the slower riders who slogged it out alone.
Local hero and race favorite Alec took the podium and was the winner of the Mango Bike followed in quick succession by his 5th Floor teammates Alex and George. A great race nevertheless, but we are waiting in anticipation for next year’s London Nocturne with a separate women’s field for the fixed gear crit, where we can really show our true potential.
Lina Bivainyt & Marigold Shale
East London Fixed
London Nocturne Mango Bike Track Criterium Race
As the British “Summer” keeps trying to get started it was time again for the London Nocturne to roll into town. This was the 10th Edition of the hugely successful and widely supported series. The Nocturne has everything from Boris Bikes, Penny Farthings to the Men & Women Elite races with Team Sky, JLT Condor et al.
This year the event had been moved from its usual location at Smithfield market to a more spectacular setting near St Paul’s Cathedral. Racing started at around 4pm and ended at around 11pm with the Men’s Elite – won by Chris Lawless from JLT Condor.
The ELF Team:
Leigh Day Road Crit
Daniel Cooper (Coops)
Mango Track Bike Crit
Daniel Cooper (Coops)
The roadie crit was a fast competitive race with an early crash causing mayhem on the first corner. Riders from various teams across London were represented and our man Coops put in a strong performance finishing 15th. I know he’ll be disappointed not to have finished higher as his early season form has seen him progress from Cat 4 to Cat 2 in super quick time. Big things are expected from Coops for the rest of the season. Keep smashing it bro!
The track bike crit was the main focus for ELF with a strong team of 7 riders. Decked out in our brand new Milltag skinsuits we were all buzzing to get out there and perform. The crowds were starting to arrive and it felt awesome to be racing in your home city on streets you usually commute on!
The race started with a sighting lap of the course giving the teams a chance to scope out the corners, gauge the competition and most importantly wave to the crowds!! There was no qualifying or race order so it was elbows out and each to their own as riders fought to get on the start line. I knew that this race would start fast and that it was important to get in with the front pack . I managed to bag a spot on the front left of the peloton and started well, pacing myself into a group of about 8 riders. This leading group was made up from experienced strong riders from the 5th Floor and La Classica Speed gang. Matt and myself were holding our position in the pack and feeling pretty strong. After 3 laps, the break had formed and we now had our own race for the next 10 or so laps. There were a few minor attacks but no one really went for it as the pace went up. The racing was tight with few opportunities for passing. Fair play to all of the riders in this pack as everyone held their lines, called out positioning and generally raced in a good manner.
As the race progressed I swapped a few places with people and did a few turns on the front but kept some fuel in the tank for the finish. With 2 laps to go, I worked my way up a few places to the front of the pack for good positioning for the final lap. I started doing a turn and as the pack hesitated and regained energy for the last lap, I gained about 10 metres. I held myself back and didn’t launch an attack, thinking that I would get caught and finish at the back of the pack. This was poor strategy and I was pissed with myself that night. I should’ve pushed on and trusted my ability, emptied the tank and seen what happened. In the end I did the turn before dropping off and watching Raffa lead everyone out on the final straight. I had some energy back so mustered a decent sprint which placed my 6th, one spot off Matt Payne in 5th. The race was won by Alec Briggs (La Classica) with a customary strong finish, Alex Blomely and George Garnier (both 5th Floor) completed the podium with strong rides as usual!
Coops and Edgar both placed well in the chasing pack in 11th an 15th, unable to catch the initial acceleration on the opening laps. They both pushed hard and finished the race in decent positioning. Will, Jevi and Brett raced hard and loved the circuit but sadly got lapped in the closing stages meaning they didn’t get to finish.
With every race it brings lessons, personally I know that I need to trust my ability and be more decisive in the closing stages of races. All in all it was a really excellent day out for ELF and for the London community.
Mr Porter, Nocturne, British Cycling I hope your reading this, please do a separate race for women?…
Massive thank you to our sponsors, Oakley, Catlike, Halo Wheels, GripGrab, Quirk Cycles, This is Cambridge, Milltag, Le Coq Sportif, Crate Brewery and Jackpot Peanut Butter. And a massive thank you to the organisers, the other athletes and the fans on the side of the road, more events like this please?
Look out for the race team when they travel to Koln and Berlin to continue the Rad Race series, Saturday’s race in Koln will be streamed live at 6.30pm. http://www.rad-race.com/
Race hard and see you soon!
Owen Blandy, ELF.
Photo Credits: Rob Wiseman, Marigold Shale and SamDunnSnaps