The Tour of the Peak 2005

So. The Tour of the Peak. It was my first Premier Calendar race for a few years, and had a top quality field, with the and DFL pro teams fresh from the Tour of Britain, plus all the other usual protagonists. Mum and I drove up to Leicester on Saturday, stayed over at a friend's there, then drove the rest of the way up to Buxton on Sunday morning. Unfortunately we left a bit later than I had planned, which was entirely my fault, but the addition of seeming to get stuck behind every caravan on the twisting roads meant we arrived at the start with barely enough time to get ready. Fortunately I just made it to the line in time for the roll out! Not the best way to start, but at least I didn't have time to stand around getting cold - it was overcast and not terribly warm. After a short neutralised section the flag came in and the speed shot up. It was all lined out on the first climb, with various attacks - I was even off the front on my own at one point, albeit briefly. Somewhere just over the first big climb we got a small group of about eleven riders away. The pace was very high, and although I was trying to do my turns, I was struggling to start with, especially with the strong crosswinds. But once the break was established it settled down to a slightly more manageable speed. The course was over three and a half laps, so a big loop, and it took most of one lap for a chase group of five, including defending champion Mark Lovatt, to make contact. As the groups came together I made my one tactical error of the race, being in the wrong place at the wrong time and missing the split - we ended up as two groups of eight, with Lovatt again missing the move. He was sat on our group to start with, presumably recovering after the effort to get across the first time. But when the gap went up to a minute he started working, and was going like a man possessed on the front, to the point where the rest of us weren't contributing much, despite there being two Recycling riders in our group. Everything came together as we went through the finish line to start the final lap. I knew that it would split again on the hill, and also knew I didn't have the legs to go with the top boys. So I rode sensibly, letting them go and settling in with the remaining five. We held the front group in sight for some time, until they obviously started attacking each other, since we finished four minutes down by the end! I couldn't follow when a couple of riders jumped away just before the finish, but crossed the line in 12th, and very happy with that. Picture thanks to Dave O'Nyons