BUCS Road Race is the most hotly contested and selective race on the UOSCC calendar and requires that rare combination of team work, tactical savvy and a sprinkling of luck to guarantee a win. The weather could not have been more perfect, with beautiful sunshine bathing the riders over the 6 lap, 72 mile course.
Sheffield’s team featured Jamie Caldwell, Tom Stewart and Joe Drane, with Clem Berril and Andy Cater both being side lined due to injury. The undulating race circuit featured a flat section and descent in the first 10km, with a steep, mile long drag up to the finishing line. As was to be expected, the final climb proved the decisive feature on course.
After a neutralized section, racing began in earnest. UOSCC’s Joe Drane was forced to withdraw early on due to puncture, but undeterred Jamie and Tom bided their time. The peloton crested the first ascent to the line all together, but one lap later it was all change. Jamie Sherlaw, a pre-race favourite, had made it into an escape group of 7 riders, holding around a minute on a two man group featuring Jamie Caldwell and another thirty seconds on the peloton with Tom Stewart able to sit in with a team mate up the road.
The lead group was slowly whittled down to three riders, with UOSCC’s Tom Stewart and Jamie Caldwell now reabsorbed by a charging, if depleted, peloton. Sheffield’s riders drove hard on the front, shutting down the break by the 4th ascent of the finishing climb.
Jamie Caldwell put in a strong attack to break clear of the bunch on the penultimate climb, dragging another rider with him to a maximum advantage of thirty seconds over the bunch. Going into the final circuit Jamie was alone, holding onto his advantage until the base of the final climb where his valiant break was swallowed up by a charging peloton, setting up an uphill sprint to the finish.
Using his climbing prowess, as showcased at the Varsity Hill Climb, Tom roared up the final climb to take the BUCS title. Jamie held on for an impressive 12th place finish, having played an instrumental role in Tom’s victory, and showcasing his breakaway talents.
A massive thanks to BUCS and the organisers Loughborough University, and many congratulations to Tom Stewart on his impressive win and cracking form this season as well as to everyone else involved. Joe Drane’s early exit may have been unfortunate, but his race updates kept the UOSCC crowd hooked!
By Rob Ellis