Rhys Pilley – August Race Report

04/08/18 – After a weekend away from racing I was keen to get stuck in again at La Prenessaye, or a punchy 3.7km circuit. It was a scorching day with temperatures high into the 30s.THe racing began with a flurry of attacks and i followed a few early moves but nothing stuck. I didn’t feel good at all after 40 minutes as I struggled to get across to a group off the front. I made the junction but felt terrible. After an 1hr15 of racing I called it a day as it was clear my body wasn’t responding as it should and my biggest challenge yet the following day at Plenee-Jugon, racing with the 1st cats.

From the gun it was clear this was a step up, the attacks were full blooded and constant as the group was repeatedly ripped apart. After the first 40 minutes of racing half the field had climbed off and what remained was split into 3 distinct groups, me being in the third. We worked hard to bridge across however as the main group swelled the attacks came again. I had been through 3 bottles in the first hour and my stomach didn’t respond well. I found myself pulling out for the second time in as many days after 50km of racing. Not the best of weekends but lessons learnt.

11/08/18 – After poor showings last week my confidence had taken a knock coming into another back to back weekend of racing. However after a decent week of training and resting I felt prepared for two tough days. The first of which was a 2nd cat race on a notoriously brutal 5.7km circuit. Completing the lap 16 times we faced a climb similar, but slightly steeper than Jubilee Hill each lap. My plan going into the race was to sit in the bunch as conserve energy as I was unsure of my form was and the 70 strong field was mostly 2nd cat riders. After the first few ascents a group of around 13 had established themselves at the head of the race. I was vigilant to stay near the head of the bunch on the climb and found myself in a second chasing group of around 20. We could see the leaders on the climb but due to the severity of the gradient the gap was still around 1 minute and not coming down. Each lap the group shrunk and coming over the top of the climb I found myself clear with 2 others, we pressed on flying down the steep descent and established a gap, as we pressed on we 2 or 3 riders that had been dislodged from the break. I finished 11th, my best result to date.

12/08/18 – After a tough day on the Saturday with over 6000ft of climbing I was not particularly enthusiastic as I made my way to Plaumadan in the driving rain on Sunday afternoon. After sitting in the warmth of my car for as long as possible I resigned myself to the fact I was going to get wet and rode a lap of the 4.7km circuit, which was very technical with plenty of surface changes, white lines and a narrow twisty descent. The field was large with over 100 riders and everyone was nervy of the inevitable spills. I managed to stay upright and no moves had stuck after the first 20km. On the 5th of the 20 laps there was a lone rider off the front with around 15 seconds. I went to the front of the group and attacked hard out of a sharp right hander, I made it across to him and we worked well together as I collected the primes on offer. We built a decent gap but it was hard work on an exposed circuit with strong winds. THankfully after a 25km two up TT a group of 5 came across and we pressed on building a gap of 1 minute 30. As we approached the final 5 laps it was clear everyone in the break was suffering as the bunch edged ever closer. When we were caught with 3 laps to go a single rider countered and I resigned myself to the fact I was going to roll in mid pack. I sat in the wheels and tried to recover from the 60km I had spent up the road. Coming into the finish for the final time I was well positioned in the top 10 and thought I would have a crack at the finnish. I latched onto a rider from Sojasun and he dragged me through the melee and I managed to pip him for the bunch kick, finishing second just behind the solo escapee, much to my suprise. A great way to finish a great weekend of racing. Now have my sights firmly set on the top step of the podium in my remaining races.