RTTC Championship 50's - Event Report

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Event Photographs by Kimroy

One week after Devon hosted the RTTC National Team Time Trial Championships the county was once more the centre of attraction when the Royal Navy & Royal Marines CA promoted the 50-mile Championships at Plympton, near Plymouth, on Sunday. A drab day weatherwise saw some sparkling racing with 2015 25-mile Champion Ryan Perry (Langdale Lightweights) taking the Men's title and 2015 Bronze Medallist Angela Hibbs (Fusion Rt Fierlan) the Women's.

The profile of the A38 based course that took riders east to Chudleigh and back reflected the undulations of a course that took the toll of more than one, especially on the leg back, mostly in to the wind.


The Women had the pleasure of opening the day at 5.30am. Veteran Chris Melia (Born to Bike-Bridgtown Cycles) set the early standard with a 1-00-40 split at 25.5 miles before Alice Lethbridge (Starley Racing) clocked 57-31, the first under the hour effort for the first leg. It was Hibbs with a 56-28 who next topped the tables and it was only when defending Champion Julia Shaw (drag2zero) entered the fray that the top spot changed when Shaw was credited with a 56-06 for that run out to the turn at Chudleigh.  Others inside the hour included Mel Wasley (SSLL RT) with her 57-57.

It now remained to be seen who would cope the best with the return run, in to the wind. Melia had finished with a 2-07-44 which was to prove the basis for Born to Bike-Bridgtown to take the team honours with Melia, Katja Rietdorf and Susan Semple. Melia was in second place at that time behind Laura Bartlett (a3crg), 2-06-36.

Lethbridge was next to take command with a 1-59-36 only to be pushed back a place with the arrival of Becky Lewis (Wrexham RC), her 1-58-58 worth eventual third. In fifth place at the turn, Crystal Spearman (NOPINZ) lost ground on the return, her 2-08-25 droping her to a final eighth place.


Hibbs, meanwhile had reached the turn in 56-28 to take command before Shaw teached that point in 56-06. Was Shaw heading for her 10th 50-mile Championship since 2004? That harder second 24.5 miles took their toll on Shaw who saw her 22 second advantage on Hibbs vanish and turn in to a 1-02 deficit. The title was Hibbs with a 1-56-02 to Shaw's 1-57-04.

"I can't believe it," was Hibbs first comment when she realised she had won. "Although I knew I was going well. It was hard going coming back with the drags and cross winds but there were some fast bits. At least it makes it worth the seven hours drive for me to get here," she added.

Angela Hibbs


A regular on the road racing scene she was unlucky last week in the North East Region (British Cycling) road race championship when a mechanical problem put her out of the race. "I was down last week after that, but racing is all about ups and downs." Hibbs said. Further plans for this season include the `100` Championship and a crack at the Best All Rounder competition. Initially Hibbs was credited with a 1-54-02 but that was revised after she had left for home in Newcastle. As she later said on Twitter "OK, I'll take that." 


Julia Shaw knew she was in trouble, "the course was far too hilly for me, although I thought I would do a lot better after I rode a `10` and `25` and set two new women's course records last weekend, "Shaw said. "There were just not enough fast bits coming back for me to make up time on Angela. At one point I was down to 11 miles an hour on a hill." Shaw is thinking of bringing her racing career to an end this season. "I'm looking at taking up coaching," she said.

Mel Wasley was unable to add to her 2015 tally of three Championship medals this time out, her 2-00-48 worth fifth. "It was my first `50` so I rode to a plan but the other girls were a lot faster. It was so hard coming back. It (the course) didn't look too bad when I drove round it but the hills were a lot worse than they had looked," Wasley said. 

Wasley has only ridden a couple of time trials this season. "I've been to training camps and riding Sportives mostly but I'm going for the `10`, `25` and Closed Circuit Championships again," Wasley added. They were the events were she won her medals last year.


Making his debut at the distance Ryan Perry added the 50-mile Championship to the 25-mile title he won last year although it was a close thing with runner-up National Hill Climb and 10-mile Champion Richard Bussell (AeroCoach) just 12 seconds behind Perry after leading him at 25.5 miles by a slim four seconds.

The final results followed the form book with Perry the only one to beat the 30mph barrier with his winning 1-39-50. Bussell followed on with his 1-40-02 and then the time gaps opened up with Kieron Davies (Team Bottrill) 2-26 behind Perry in third with a 1-42-22. Defending Champion Matt Clinton (Mike Vaughan Cycles) had to settle for fourth this time out with a PB of 1-43-05 while John Dewey rounded out the top five with a 1-43-39 to lead Team Bottrill to the Championship Team Medals backed by Charles Taylor, 1-44-45, and Matthew Smith, 1-45-07.


One of the early starters, Dewey set a high standard for would be medallists when he reached the turn at 25.5 miles in 49-45. It was almost an hour before that was bettered by Wales' 50-mile Champion Kieron Davies with a 49-15. Then it was Bussell who took over with a terrific 48-08, a time not to be beaten, Perry taking four more seconds with his 48-12. Only two one other riders managed to get inside 50 minutes, Clinton with a 49-38 and Brett Harwood (Terry Wright Cycles) with a 49-48.


The harder but slightly shorter return run in to the wind was reflected in the second half with all taking three or more minutes more to reach the finish, Perry turning the tables on Bussell pulling back his four seconds deficit to run out the winner by 12 seconds.


Best of the Veterans was Andy Jackson who upheld SSLL RT's reputation, finishing seventh with a 1-44-29 on what he described as "the hardest course I've ridden on this year. With the hills and descents it was like interval training," he said.

Ryan Perry

"It was my first `50` so it was a matter of pacing myself, although now I think I went out too hard. There were a lot of hills one after another and coming back there was a real climb," Perry said. Next target is the British Cycling Time Trial Championship at Stockton and then defence of his 25-mile title. 

"This could be my last season of serious racing as I have got to think of my Army career in the Royal Engineers,"  Perry added. Event Secretary Sean Childs revealed that Perry's time was also a UK Armed Forces record. Childs had also ridden, finishing with a 1-52-08, best of the Royal Navy & Royal Marines CA contingent.


"I was gratefull when the hills came up especially that one at around 37 miles, I was able to get up out of the saddle and have a bit of a rest," Bussell said. Bussell swaps his Time Trial machine for his road bike to compete in the five-day Tour of Wales at the end of the month when he rides with a Midland team. 


Kieron Davies anxiously watched the leader board as the results went up at the event hadquarters at Plympton Sports Centre. "It was a good course and it looks as though I could possibly be third as long as Brett (Harwood) or Matt (Clinton) don't come up with something," Davies said. They did not so that final podium place was his. 

John Dewey can have the last word about the course. As he said on Twitter "It was breezy and hilly on the way back." A sentiment that most would have agreed with after one of the most interesting Championships for some years.