Solo competition tends to steal the headlines in the world of cycling time trials, but a team from Drag2Zero were arguably the most dominant force on the roads in 2018. Jack Cudworth investigates.
Multiple national champion Alice Lethbridge, Liz Powell and Vicky Gill added four national titles to their trophy cabinet over 10, 25, 50 and 100 miles, along with a national record for good measure.
That record, and the first of their four titles came on July 8 in the National 100-mile Championships – a title that Lethbridge won in the solo categories for the second straight year.
The formidable group took the title with ease and smashed the previous women’s team competition record by a massive 43-15. They clocked a time of 11-43-18; a feat that Lethbridge lauded as the highlight of the day.
“The team prize and record were the best part of the day for me,” she said. “I don’t think I had fully recovered from the 12-hour two weeks earlier, and I had a panic attack so I could easily have pulled off the course.
“But it was Liz’s first 100 and she was only riding because I persuaded her – I couldn’t let her down! When we got the results and had a 1-2-3 I was over the moon and it made carrying on worth it!”
Next came the National 25-Mile Championship, and despite none of the three making the podium they combined to take the team prize again. From then on, the women’s team prize was a focus of theirs.
“It was definitely an aim to complete the set – we wanted to go for the hill climb too but had to put it on the back burner,” added Lethbridge. “I can’t seem to persuade them [Powell and Gill] to do a 12-hour yet either!”
The trio would have to wait until September to complete their new goal, and they did so in equally convincing fashion as the previous two, finishing second, fourth and fifth in the 10-mile championship and then all in the top six at the National 50.
The capturing of all four set-distance national titles marked the first time a team would win all four in the same year, using the same three riders. The closest previous being GS Strada’s Hunter, Shaw and Milne won all but the 100 (which no team entered) back in 2003.
Time trialling may be predominantly a solo venture but riding for Drag2Zero is all about the team, said Lethbridge.
“We go in to perform at our best individually and we know that if we do that then we’ve done our best for the team but we do support each other in getting to and preparing for the event.
“I wouldn’t even have made it to the 10 in Scotland if it wasn’t for Liz and her husband Mark,” she added. “We also have a chat about courses in our group chat. For example, Vicky and I know the P881 well but Liz had never ridden it before so I have her tips on how to approach the course.”
The Drag2Zero team have no plans to stop there and the feat will be one in their crosshairs to accomplish, with the added bonus of having two other team members back in the fold in the form of Kimberley Halton-Farrow and Kate Allen.
* All reports are copyright of Cycling Time Trials/Snowdon Sports. Not to be used without permission. This report by Jack Cudworth.