For round four of the Matrix Fitness GP all of the teams were faced with a very fast, almost drag strip-like, course around Stevenage. This would prove to be a real test of power, strength and all out speed as opposed to pure bike handling skill.
With Natalie Grinczer maintaining her place in the team, and looking to put into practice what she learnt at the Stoke on Trent Round, the only roster change was Becca Carter coming in to replace Sam Burman. So with a relatively unchanged team the aim was to continue the improvements seen at the last round. From the off the pace was fast, while all Matrix races are fast, this was something else, with no hills to climb all that energy was put in to out and out pace with the race flat out from the start!
The style of course and the pace of racing had an effect on the peleton that hadn’t been previously seen. In earlier rounds the peleton had split to pieces in the early stages, leaving four or five groups out on course. At Stevenage it was different, with a small group being detached with the main group sticking together. Things started to heat up on lap three when a break formed with Team WNT’s Jo Tindley a part of it, along series individual leader Nikki Juniper and five other leading riders. The break was to be short-lived, though, with the bunch chasing them down and catching them. This was followed by several more, unsuccessful breakaways.
When the race reached the first of the sprint laps Team WNT’s Irish Road Race Champion, Lydia Boylan, led the way, taking the first two sprint laps and scoring maximum points. Now at the halfway stage the pressure started to mount with Alice Barnes of the Drops team putting in a stinging attack and she wasn’t to be caught after that. However the chase was hard and a resulting touch of wheels caused a crash that split the bunch, with Team WNT’s Hannah Walker and Natalie Grinczer on the wrong side of it, leaving them with a 10 second gap to bridge, a challenge that seemed insurmountable by the pit crew. However, Hannah and Natalie had other ideas! Along with a couple of riders from Drops and Podium Ambition they halved the gap by the next lap and had managed to make contact with the lead group by the lap after, disaster averted! By now Alice Barnes had her unassailable lead, so the peloton was racing for 2nd place, this was still a big bunch though, meaning a big sprint finish was on the cards. In among all of the mayhem of the spring Lydia Boylan came home in 9th position for Team WNT, not quite what the team had hoped for after what had been a very positive race.
"The team rode really well tonight, we managed to keep four riders in the front group, which was great. The team was unlucky in the sprint, but this is something for us to work on now and we get a chance to put those lessons to good use at Croydon!" says Team Manager, Marcus Nainby.
Hot on the heels of Stevenage the Matrix Fitnsess GP series moves on to Croydon, followed quickly by the final round at Portsmouth on the 9th June. A challenging week for Team WNT!