Ideal conditions for Banbury Star's annual 45-mile road races

Light winds, dry roads and very bright conditions met the competitors for the annual men’s road race hosted by Banbury Star Cyclists Club on Sunday, writes David Tew.

By Zoe Ashton
Thursday, 26th May 2022, 12:09 pm
Road race riders on the grind up Edge Hill
Road race riders on the grind up Edge Hill

The 45-mile race, three laps of a 15-mile circuit, starts out on the Warwick Road, goes down Warmington Hill, turns left at Kineton and brings the riders to the foot of Edge Hill, otherwise known as The Knowle.

Its climb has a maximum gradient of 16%, described by one cycling magazine as ‘a brute’.

The route then goes along the ridge to the Stratford road, turns left, left again down into Horley along a road with very indifferent surfaces.

Sign up to our daily Banbury Guardian Today newsletter

The top three finishers in Banbury Star's annual men's road race

A sharp left in Horley, brings the riders to a gnarly climb to the finish line.

The race, which is for Category 3 and 4 racers, began in near perfect conditions having attracted a field of 68 riders including four Star members, regular racer Richard Santhouse, Josh Lovell, Jose Antonio Diego Gonzalez and Peter Drnovsek.

On the third and final ascent, Oliver Tandy and Dave Fellows of Solihull CC, Ben Bussman for Cowley Condors, Dan Lord of University of Warwick, Evan Clements of Team Smartdry and James Millar of Onyx Racing Team had pulled away.

On the charge down through Horley, they seemed to have the race

Winner Mary Wilkinson crosses the line in Sunday afternoon's women's race

to themselves, but suddenly, the other five from the earlier split of 11 were swarming around the commissaires vehicle on the short but steep ramp to the finishing line and catching the group on the front.

In what was a very close finish, Oliver Tandy was the winner, just crossing the line ahead of Ben Bussman and Dave Fellows in third.

The Banbury Star Women's Road Race is a round of The British Team Womens Cup, for Cat E1/2/3 Women, taking place on Sunday, May 22nd, organised by Banbury Star.

Starting at 1.30pm, the benign sunny and warm conditions of the men's race from the morning had changed a little bit with the wind getting up and creating a slight tailwind for the riders as they went up the Warwick Road as they began the 3 laps, 45 mile race on the same circuit as the men.

The leading group in the women's race climbing Edge Hill

Once again it included three climbs of Edge Hill making this a very challenging course.

The field of 60 riders stayed together on the 1st lap, everybody settling into a brisk pace. The race began unfolding on the 2nd lap on the lower slopes of Edge Hill, as Team Beampods, as Mary Wilkinson and her teammates, began pulling on the front. Quite quickly a group of 12 got away from the rest of the bunch and established a lead of 1 minute, as they went out onto the Stratford Road. The 12 worked well together and the lead went out to 4 minutes.

As they reached Warmington Hill on the last lap, one of Team Beampods riders went very hard and stretched the 12 out and eventually breaking the group of 12 down to four for the final dash uphill to the finishing line on the grippy slope up to the Warwick Road from Horley.

The four included Mary Wilkinson - Team Beampods, Lucy Harris- Team Beampods, Tamsin Miller -Bianchi Hunt Morvelo and Kelly Murphy - Ellemore Digital Composite Team.

A long climb up Edge Hill in the women's race

Mary Wilkinson had already taken the Queen of the Mountain prize , scooping up the points as the group charged for the line.

Mary, who has won this race in 2018, knew her way around the course and planned a final charge to cross the line. Which she duly did, followed by her teammate Lucy Harris and Tamsin Miller for Bianchi Hunt Morvelo in 3rd place.

In comments after the win Mary said: “ I won here in 2018 so knew the course well, I really went hard at the bottom of the hill and got a nice gap and that was all I needed, it is a very nice course but....phew! It is hard!”