Clean sweep

It isn’t very often that I get to watch road racing near to home but tonight I found myself in Birmingham for the National Road Race Championships. It started out with the Ladies race which was the more interesting to watch. There were several breaks and the main riders were pretty much giving it their all from the 4th or 5th lap onwards.

The main draw for the casual fans was the men’s race though, as it was a larger field and started a little later in the evening instead of being close to work finishing time.With the main start/finish line on Broad Street the organisers picked a prime location, I still managed to find several different places to get shots though.

It was challenging to capture as the light was failing so I had to resort to slow shutter speeds, (as the associated image shows). It adds atmosphere though and be it rallying or cycling I do like a good motion blur action shot.

This is not about photographic technique though and what really impressed me was the pace all the riders maintained for the hour of racing. I cannot get near it on a pan flat route for more than a couple of miles. This circuit was lumpy and the road surface grippy in certain places, (when I say this I mean a broken surface which makes it feel as though you have to push the pedals harder).

This pace just raised throughout each race and by the end it was infernal. It still begs belief that the riders then up the pace for a sprint finish. This is where the teams work really well as they start the lead out for their sprinter but not in the Nationals. Yes, the riders are in teams but there is only one jersey and ultimately it comes down to everyone for themselves. The men’s race really proved the point as JLT Condor filled the podium in the final results. I believe it was unprecedented for one team to take 1-2-3 in the championship race.

All in all it was a good night out. I was on my own but hey that is me and I’m used to it. It is great to see the sport brought to the people too. In the UK we are going through a love affair with cycling and I hope the British public embraces it all.

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