Four blimey. A quadruple of Forge have only gone and qualified for the 2023 UCI World Fondo Championships. And Bex C even claimed a podium in the 19-34 Women’s event!
She along with Melissa B, Lewis C and Tom B blasted over the Fens at the Tour of Cambridgeshire to successfully finish in the top 25% of respective age groups and win the right to represent their country, and Forge, at the prestigious Worlds in Perth, Scotland later this year.
The fast four were part of a 13-strong Forge force setting off from Peterborough’s East of England Showgrounds, racing through the closed road 100km course.
First to set off at 9am were Lewis C, ToBo, Ben D and Byron K, in the 19-34-year-old whipper-snapper group. They set a blistering average speed of 45kmph. There were attacks from the off, with last year’s winner, backed by a strong team, attacking from kilometre one. Our boys managed to hold their own and the first hour was a succession of attacks, and energy-sapping sprints out of tight turns.
At the half-way, the parkour turned in a more northerly direction and into more of a headwind, calming the pace a smidge. Three riders broke away to take the podium, with Lewis and Tom sprinting home in the lead pack to finish in an astounding 2hrs 31mins to qualify for Scotland.
It was a baptism of fire for Ben D. Nothing can prepare you for your first from-the-gun super-fast race. Shaking his head after finishing at a swift 38.5kmph average, Ben admitted it gave him a taste for more racing. That’s the spirit.
Unfortunately, it was a bad day for last year qualifier Byron, as he punctured early on, gallantly chasing back before illness halted his progress.
Pete D celebrated his 40th birthday by tackling the Gran Fondo version. Same distance, same course, he rode strongly to come in with the lead bunch and, in a lovely bit of symmetry, averaged 40kmph for the 100km. Many happy returns, pistol Pete.
Cycle Strength Trainer Andy H rode the Fondo version too, taking a more leisurely approach with some friends. Oh no, hang on… there’s nothing leisurely about an average speed of 36.5kmph.
Dev S did what he always does and gave it his all, smashing personal bests and power bests he is now improving every week. Averaging more than 38kmph, he is fast becoming a proper racer.
Josh K, riding in Baroudeur colours but always a Forge man at heart, found the peloton racing challenging but still averaged 38kmph, while Diana K soloed big chunks of the course even after running a marathon the week before. Amazing.
Less luck for Conor B and Paddy O. Our Irish duo were shocked by the early lightening pace, with Conor finding it difficult to adjust to the full-bore sprints out of each corner. He gamely completed the course while Paddy O thought his luck was in when he narrowly missed a nasty bunch crash at 45kms. It was only 5kms later, while travelling well in the diminished 30-rider lead bunch, that he hit a pothole and punctured. Game over.
But let’s save the best for last, the Women’s race and the two emerging Forge forces of Bex C and Melissa B.
A cagey race, all the women age groups raced as one and despite numerous attacks, high speed flat-out sections, close encounters on those tight bends and numerous sketchy moments, the two first-season racers not only stayed with the lead bunch but sprinted for all their might with Melissa bagging 6th in her age group and Bex 8th overall and an amazing 3rd for her age group.
Elated, shocked and delighted – neither of them know just how good they are. These deserving pair have the cycling world at their feet.
A fantastic show of force from Forge. Remember we have racers, but we are not a racing club and have rides, events and trips for all ages and levels. But for now, brace yourself Perth, here comes Forge!