Four men – counting the one behind the camera – their mission, to eat as many sandwiches, scotch eggs and sausage rolls as possible in one afternoon, whilst soaking up the sun, roadside at the British Elite Road Race Championships 2018 in Northumberland.
We didn’t linger too long at the start, not wanting to get trapped by the closed roads.
Ian Bibby (JLT Condor) seemed like a good bet for today after his strong performances at the Tour of the Reservoir – but alas, it was not to be.
Finding the parcours among the rabbit warren of wee Northumberland lanes took a bit of Googling and head scratching.
Sky on-point the first time we caught the race, the ‘dog leg’ en route the circuit; was it going to be their usual lap one Blitzkrieg, leaving everyone in the ‘red’ before going on to dominate things?
Aero guru and multiple British champion on the track and TT’s, Dan Bigham (Ribble) was well there and would end the day as king of the mountains.
Big engine Harry Tanfield (Canyon) was having a nitemare though, an early mechanical saw him chasing hard before they’d even made the circuit.
We set up camp over the top of the big climb of the day and the break was already established on lap one with big hitters Adam Blythe (Aqua Blue) and Ben Swift (UAE) there but Madison Genesis were the men with the motivation and driving hard.
Early days; but there were some big names trapped back in the bunch – Ian Stannard (Sky) and Mark McNally to name but two; McNally’s Wanty strip adding a bit of Flemish colour to the north east of England.
JLT Condor’s Alistair Slater was back in the cars but would get back up after a tough chase.
Meanwhile, Harry called ‘time !’ a man can only do so much.
Lap two and it was still the Madison Genesis boys on the front, those Pro Conti and World Tour names not frightening them.
Sole Sky man in the break, Owain Doull was taking on some nutrition and considering his options.
‘Behent’, as we say in Fife, Sky were working hard to try to get the break back, Doull being there or not.
Richardson Trek’s George Woods, who’s featured in the pages of VeloVeritas in the past but is more of a man for the small circuits wasn’t enjoying his day out in Northumberland.
Lap three and Doull had decided – or been ordered – to work; the pressure was well on and the break was strung out with some hurt faces being pulled