Last week one of our sponsored cyclists Ben Thomas took to the HSBC British National Marathon Championships in the Isle of Man to see if he could retain his title and the national jersey to be the champion of the UK.
Following his success of winning the title as the champion last year, Ben became more motivated than ever to build upon his success. In this blog post we look the challenges, successes and setbacks that Ben faced on his race journey with the main highlights from his race report.
“Over the past 2 years it's been a privilege to have worn the National Champion's stripes at the front of some of the biggest marathon races in the world.
The race started from the famous TT motorbike grandstand, was led out by police escort and then hit the first climb. I felt comfortable, my previous worries quickly evaporated, I knew I could win this race. Let’s do this!
Off the first mountain and I was suddenly out front alone, no one could keep up with me on the descents, I didn't want to be alone when there was another 5 hours to go so soft pedalled on the next section until a few riders caught back up. Up the next climb, down the next descent, similar scenario with me putting time into my rivals. There was one problem, gates! Gates after gates after gates after.... It was ridiculous.
Next climb and the first real acceleration of the race, it was early but it dropped several people from the group. After feed 3 there was a leading trio of myself, Tom Bell and Paul Oldham who’d been my main rival at last year's Champs. The race was getting to the business end but I'd been sitting comfortably at the front without an issue.
Final climb and Tom puts in his race winning move but I'm all over it, you're not shaking me from your wheel. Paul gets dropped. We reach the climb I knew from End 2 End, I make a move but couldn't open much of a gap, Tom and I were evenly matched at this point. Anyway there's more gates coming up so why expend energy. Final descent, Gates Gates Gates! Race neutralised by gates.
Still together going into finish area, line in sight, sprint! Winner decided by whose rear gears coped with the long grass which had been cut but not cleared the day before the event. My gears clog and stop turning, I end up walking over the line 2nd. How can a National Title be decided by gates and a field which hasn't been cleared of grass? A fair race is a necessity in any event, especially one for a National Title.
The Manx 100 course is quite different to the End 2 End race, less man made trails in plantations, more rough rocky open tracks up and down the big mountain, both great fun to ride. I hope the Champs race returns next year with some slight tweaks. Right now I feel a bit emotionally drained but realise I did a great job over the past 2 years and came so close to retaining the jersey once again. Next year I’ll be there at the TT Grandstand even more motivated to win back my stripy jersey”
It's such a shame about the racing conditions but a massive well done to Ben for achieving a great result from the race! We’re really excited to see what’s to come of such a determined cyclist.