We are lucky enough to have the superbly talented Clemence Copie guesting for the team throughout 2013. Here's her take on the Bedford 3-Day...
With a new stage on the Saturday on a new course (4 laps of a 15km loop around Great Barford), I decided to go check it out after work on Friday by riding easy around and taking notes. That is when I noticed a very tight right corner following a long descent and took it full speed to judge the angle - I nearly came off the edge of the road as I exited the turn. As it started raining the next morning, I warned my teammates to move up near the front of the bunch after our third left hand turn and before the descent. Surprisingly the crash happened on the left hand side before the corner (probably due to poor bike handling skills), GB-Cycles and MG-Maxifuel had most of their riders at the back on the left who all got caught in the crash whilst other teams, Matrix and BCC were near the front so after narrowly avoiding the crash, Adele and I chased onto the front group and managed to stay safely there for the rest of the race taking a few turns near the front to keep the pace going before some riders rejoined with 1 lap to go ending in a bunch sprint won by Hannah Barnes. This course also featured a sprint competition on a 2% climb which suited me so won the second sprint while Jo Tindley took the first one from the bunch.
The next day saw a team time trial of about 9km in Keysoe followed by a 80km road race (5 laps of 16km). With most riders guest-riding for Mulebar Girl and no practise of TTT riding, we warmed up and set off early towards the start for some last minute practise and focused on communication during TTT with Louise and myself stepping up to take additional turns when other riders couldn't, this seemed to work well as we clocked a respectable 9.47min placing joint 7th with Team CTC.
The final day was held as per usual at the brilliant Millbrook test track with an individual time trial of 6.4km (2 laps of the speed bowl) followed by a final road race of 80km (9.5 laps of 8km including 9 times up the 'alpine climb'). Starting the day 20th overall in the GC, just 1:05min down on leaders and about 40sec down on top-10, I had to give my all in the ITT to make up any time I could although I realised it would be a difficult task with such a short TT. Having only done 1 lap the previous year and being known to start too fast, I wanted to keep a steady pace on the first lap and pick up on the second lap, which I did, crossing the finish line in 9.44min. With blood taste in my mouth, compressed lungs and screaming legs, I knew I had done my best only to turn around shortly after the line to see Laura Massey who had started just 1min down behind me - Laura finished 3rd with Hannah Barnes in a time of 9.27min whilst Louise took 12th spot and Claire Galloway destroyed the field in 9:17min to take the lead and yellow jersey.
After 2 crashes, 4 punctures, 4 stages, 2 days of racing and countless tired legs, the final stage was going to be a race of attrition and soon after the first climb, the race split in two groups with Adele and Emily safely in the second group. My placing on GC remained unchanged after ITT and with yet another flat sprint competition, I decided to try to hold my sprint placing on the first sprint and use it as an attack to break before the climb to test other teams...and myself! MG-Maxifuel were on a mission to prove a point and help Hannah Barnes to make up time so brought me back on the climb - I'm not known for my climbing skills! Many riders came riding past giving me a push up the climb including teammate Lou who got me to the top of the climb with words of encouragement: ‘don’t do that again’! After some big attacks from Hannah Barnes and Louise Mahe during the two hill competition laps, which were brought back by the strong Alexie Shaw, the pace settled with 1 lap to go. Yellow jersey holder Claire Galloway had a mechanical atop the climb and was brought back by her teammates to the speed bowl where the bunch was waiting for her return. It was going to be a sprint finish so despite the fatigue and with only Louise left in the bunch, I focused on following the right wheels and moves and managed with just under 500m to go to get close to Claire Galloway but had nothing left to go past her and finished 8th, moving up another place on GC to finish the weekend 18th with 1min down on leaders and 3rd in the sprint competition whilst Louise rode brilliantly to close her deficit from her stage one’s misfortunes to finish 27th (2:50min down on leaders). Despite some riders tarnishing the race with their unconstructive complaints, the weekend ended on the great image of Adele and the second group crossing the finish line as one and showing the true spirit and sportsmanship of women’s cycling!