1904rt back in action at Loughborough Festival of Cycling

With resrictions gradually lifting, Jenny Andrews and Mathilde Pauls rocked up at the second round of the British Women’s Team Cup, with Mathilde securing a top 20 in a quality field of 70 riders, and Jenny sharpening her race craft ahead of her goals later in the season.

1904 race team had a great day out at the Loughborough Cycling Festival taking part in the Jose Gilbert Memorial race, part of the British Women’s Team Cup series. The organisers had done an amazing job at putting on what feels like the first race back since lockdown with a real festival atmosphere. Great to see spectators back cheering the riders on. 

It was also the first hot race of this summer, which proved challenging, especially for the poor riders whose bidons went flying on the savage speed bumps on the descent. 

Having had time to cool down and process the race, Jenny said: “There’s something very special about closed-road criterium racing. Elbows out, 90 degree turns side by side with other riders, and holding your nerve, and your speed, on the swift downhill corners. This was an exciting course, one I hope we get to use again. 

“In a top-quality field my aim was to enjoy the day’s racing and not bring up the rear of the race. I was pleased to hold with a good group for the first half, but the relentless reps up the hill proved too much for my legs, so I continued solo and with other smaller groups for the rest of the race to meet my target of not finishing last. Team mate Mathilde had a really strong race.

“After a challenging year for everyone, it’s so good to get back racing with team mates. It’s so encouraging to share the pre-race nerves and post-race adrenaline rush with amazing, like-minded women. Let’s hope there’s plenty more to come this season. “

Fresh from the finish line, Mathilde added: “I was really rather nervous at the prospect of 70 people in a stacked field on a crit course, especially as I’ve not raced in a big bunch for two years, and as I always prefer smaller groups. Jenny’s smiles and support at the start helped me get myself on the start line, however.

“The course was tough, so that things almost immediately split. I had done my usual poor positioning at the start (although this time probably because I was so slow on the neutralised lap) so that I never saw the front of the race. Nevertheless I enjoyed trying to make my way forwards a bit, and ended up working with a few people at the front of my chase group. We never managed to make any inroads into the lead of the front of the race, but had our own little ‘race in a race’ which we finished with a sprint, out of which I managed to take a third in my group.”

The next British Women’s Cup events are:

Oakley Village Road Races, July 3

Berkhamsted Cycle Club Road Race, July 25

Duncan Murray Wines Road Race, August 8

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