Tuesday 17th May saw the opening round of the Matrix Fitness GP take place in Motherwell, Scotland. Team WNT lined up at the start represented by Jo Tindley, Lydia Boylan, Hannah Walker, Sam Burman and Keira McVitty. Alongside Team WNT were 10 other teams and four guest riders, a record for the event, with more women’s teams than men.
The focus this season for TeamWNT in this series has changed from 2015 with the target this year being the team rather than the individual win on the night as well as the evening’s sprints, with team sprinter Jo Tindley chasing the honours in that department.
So, to the race, and the rain that was forecast stayed away for the women’s 45 minute race, with the result that the pace was fast from the flag dropping as is normal with these criterium events. By the second lap the field was already starting to split up.
In an attempt to take advantage of the situation, Jo Tindley set off on an early attack and was the first rider to animate the race. The initial break was brought back by the peloton chasing hard. The second attack Alice Barnes of Drops Cycling, along with a couple of the race favourites also bridging the gap, meant that the peloton unable to respond and this break of four very strong riders became well established. Team WNT missed this break, so came to the front of the peloton to set about chasing down the leaders. The advantage that the breakaway group had meant that they took all of the top sprint points, with Jo fighting valiantly to make it to the front of the chase to mop up the remaining points in both sprints, which will prove valuable in the remaining five rounds.
With Team WNT still chasing on the front, other teams joined in to help, either by working with Team WNT or by blocking the chase as they were represented in the break. This joint effort left Team WNT in a position to be sprinting for 5th place overall out of the final corner. On the closing lap Lydia Boylan took to the head of the peloton out of the final corner and up the hill to the line, only one rider, Ellie Dickinson, was able to come around Lydia, who was our best placed rider on the night. Jo, after her efforts in the sprints came home in the main group in14th position.
Hannah Walker was our third rider over the line adds points to our total in the team competition, a tremendous effort from Hannah whose run to the line was disrupted by an earlier nasty crash, which required support staff to be in the road to assist Team Breeze’s Mel Lowther, who we wish a speedy recovery to. Despite this delay, Hannah gained some team points meaning that after round one Team WNT sits in fifth position with only eight of the teams taking part scoring points on the night. The race was won by Scottish UCI rider Eileen Roe who was making an appearance as a guest.
In conclusion this was not the first round we had hoped for but it is only the start of a six round series. We made some mistakes and we will learn from them for when we take to the line with a strong team at the next round in Redditch, near Birmingham.