This weekend saw the return of the Elf+Huez team on the big stage, out in full force with 8 riders taking part in the London Nocturne event. The day started with usual fun and games that included the amazing penny-farthing races and the folding bike race. As the sunlight began to fade, the energy around the track grew, and the women’s Fixed Gear Criterium was under way. Brooke Philips, one of the newest members of the Elf+Huez team was clearly nervous, having come to the sport only two years ago, and the excitement and adrenaline of race day was still hard to control.
Nevertheless, the home crowd and a circuit she was familiar with from the year before, provided some solace. As the race started it was very quickly black-flagged as a large crash sent one of the competitors flying into the guardrails. The incident was a reminder of quite how amazing these riders were, taking on an incredibly fast and technical circuit, hitting speeds of 30km plus without the assistance of brakes to control the momentum going into hairpin corners! Once the race was restarted Brooke settled into her stride, lapping in 4th and 5th position and biding her time to execute her attack. The pack had some strong riders in it including several riding in top UCI race teams. With the final lap underway and the crowd willing the riders forward, Brooke seized her moment and in a closely contested sprint secured an impressive second place! To see the podium champagne festivities you can check them out here!
The Men’s race started shortly after the Women’s, and after last years event it was thought a rolling start would be a safer option. This did not prove to be effective. The leading pack knew the advantage that a spot at the front would hold, once the race had started, and so riders were elbow to elbow on the tight circuit. This lead to the inevitable crashes this time at even higher speeds, and the injuries seemingly worse too, one rider being catapulted clean over the barriers and into the crowd. The race took a little time to get into its stride after this but soon the pack was flying through the circuit.
Team Elf+Huez had what seemed to be three riders in the top ten, Daniel Cooper, Owen Blandy and Matt Payne. Lap after lap the pack got more and more stretched, soon leaving a front group of 12 or so riders, amongst them was last year’s winner Alec Briggs.
With three laps to go Dan Cooper made it to the front of the pack, pushing the riders to incredible speeds and driving 1000 watts of power through his pedals. This blast might have come a little too early, as with the final lap underway, Alec and few other streamed past in the final sprint. The race was once again electrifying and proved fixed gear racing is one of the most exciting cycling disciplines to behold.
Photo Credits: Lee Pendlebury & @mattbenstone
To get a taste of the scene on Saturday and the up coming Redhook race in London on the 22nd of July check out our race highlights from Brooklyn.