Three Wightlink-LCM Systems Cycle Race Team riders traveled over to the Mountbatten Centre in Portsmouth yesterday evening to race in the first of five Ray Martin Memorial closed circuit races.
Lining up in the combined 3rd and 4th category race were Kev Foster, Dom Coughlin and Jack Elton-Walters. The pace was noticeably higher than the 4th category races Foster and Elton-Walters have been riding in, but both sat comfortably in the group and coped with the varying speeds and higher average pace.
With approximately half of the 40 minute plus 3 laps race gone, Foster worked his way to the front of the peloton and became active in several breakaway attempts. One of these, involving four other riders, gained a gap of half a lap and for a time looked set to stay away. However, realising the danger and not wanting to race for 6th place at best, several teams came to the front and drove the main bunch on until the escapees were caught.
For the remainder of the race, the speed increased with every lap and more and more riders were dropped off the back of the field. With 35 minutes gone, Coughlin put in a hard effort and dragged Elton-Walters towards the front of the bunch. Seeing two Wightlink-LCM Systems riders moving forward together instigated a rush for the front among some teams and Coughlin and Elton-Walters were soon swamped. Holding his line and his nerve, Elton-Walters pushed on and finished approximately 13th in a scrappy sprint finish.
Although points are only awarded up to 10th place, there are many positives to take from a top half finish in a faster paced field, and sets the team up for the rest of the series.