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CYCLING - CUCC at BUCS

The past few months has seen a string of successes for CUCC in their quest to regain the title of “BUCS Champions”. Victory by Birmingham in the 2011-2012 season brought Cambridge’s 4 year reign at the top to an end and CUCC members were determined to take back the top spot for 2012-2013.

April brought with it the start of the time trialling season; three events on three consecutive weekends, beginning with the 3-up team time trial (TTT) and culminating in the Varsity match, which takes place as part of the BUCS 25 mile time trial. This year saw a course change for the TTT following a string of accidents in recent years due to the technical nature of the old course. The new course was based around Chalgrove in Oxfordshire and consisted of two laps of a 25km circuit. Three men’s teams and two ladies’ teams made the journey from Cambridge, leaving behind the sun to be greeted by rain on arrival at the HQ. The new course was tough, with a short, sharp ascent each lap and howling winds that made it very hard to control the bike. A repeat of the previous three years saw the 1st men’s team (Szlachta, Bradbury, Tedbury) come away with BUCS gold, though the women (Simmonds, Haskell, Railton) were unfortunately beaten into 2nd place by a very strong Birmingham team. The second men’s team suffered a crash and a puncture, leaving them unable to complete the course with three riders, but the third men’s team and second ladies team had good, solid rides to finish 20th and 5th in the BUCS event respectively.

A second trip to Oxfordshire was scheduled for the following Saturday for the BUCS 10 mile TT, organised by OUCC. Four women and six men competed, on what was a relatively warm and sunny day. Hayley Simmonds rode to victory in the women’s event by 3 seconds over defending champion, Birmingham’s Ciara Horne. Hayley’s time of 22.36 was not only a PB but also a new BUCS 10 mile TT record. The other three Cambridge riders, Jenny Haskell, Anna Railton and Isobel Rees, finished 5th, 7th and 13th respectively and the combined times of Hayley and Jenny proved good enough for team gold, beating Birmingham’s first team by 45 seconds. In the men’s event, Wojciech Szlachta’s time of 20.23 proved good enough for silver, with Edmund Bradbury just missing out on a medal in 4th (20.46). Their times, combined with that of James Dixon (7th, 21.12), secured the team gold by 1.32 over Loughborough. The other three Cambridge men finished 12th, 56th and 64th.

BUCS 25 mile TT was the final BUCS time trialling event of 2013 and also incorporated the Varsity match. Unsurprisingly there was a large number of Cambridge riders entered, the race being organised by CUCC and held over two laps of a course based around Bottisham. Out of the six CUCC women who completed the course, four (Hayley Simmonds, Lucy Gossage, Anna Railton and Jenny Haskell) finished in the top seven, with the remaining two riders placing 16th and 28th overall. Hayley finished 2nd and her time, combined with Lucy’s (4th), secured team gold for Cambridge once again. The combined times of Anna and Jenny (6th and 7th respectively) led to a second women’s team medal for Cambridge, this time bronze. Eleven CUCC men took part in the event with Wojciech Szlachta riding to victory in a time of 53.09. Edmund Bradbury finished 3rd overall and James Dixon narrowly missed out on the podium, finishing 4th. Needless to say, these three riders once again secured team gold.

Varsity teams are made up of three riders and so Anna’s time was added to Hayley’s and Lucy’s, giving Cambridge a victory in the women’s event by 19.44! The men won both the first and second team matches, the first team of Wojciech, Ed and James taking victory by 12.17.

The most recent BUCS event was the Track Championships, taking place at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in Glasgow on May 18th-19th. Due to the date and location (exams looming for most undergraduates!), CUCC only managed to send four competitors to this event. The weekend began with the women’s flying 200m, a qualification round for the match sprint, with Anna Railton clocking the second fastest time of 12.730, a new PB. Following this was the qualification for the women’s 3000m individual pursuit (IP), in which Cambridge had two competitors, Hayley Simmonds and Jenny Haskell. Hayley was one of only three riders in the competition to break 4 minutes, qualifying 3rd fastest with a new PB of 3.55.56 to make the evening’s bronze medal ride off. Jenny missed out on a medal ride but finished with the 7th fastest time of the afternoon. A continuation of the sprint competition saw Anna matched against Fiona Cleat from Strathclyde University and an easy victory meant that she progressed straight through to the semi-final, to be held on the Sunday. The penultimate event of the day was the bronze medal ride off for Hayley in the IP. In the medal matches, the event ends if one rider catches the other, but if no catch is made the winner is the rider with the faster time. Hayley caught her opponent within half-distance, winning the bronze medal. The final event on Saturday was the women’s 500m time trial. Anna put in a storming performance to secure the silver medal in a time of 38.41 seconds, another new PB.

Sunday’s events kicked off with the women’s team pursuit qualification. Traditionally held over 3000m with 3 riders, the event is changing to 4000m with 4 riders starting (though only 3 need to finish) in October this year, to bring the event in line with the men’s team pursuit. BUCS decided to bring in the change early in the interest of record keeping and so Hayley, Anna and Jenny were joined by women’s captain Sarah Gallagher for this event. The Cambridge team qualified in the fastest time, setting a new BUCS record of 5.23.66 in the process, lining up a gold medal ride off against Strathclyde. Having qualified 30 seconds faster, the question was more “when” Cambridge would make the catch rather than “whether”. In the end, Strathclyde held out for 6 out of 16 laps and Cambridge were rewarded with gold. In the qualification for the team sprint Anna and Jenny were representing Cambridge and posted the 4th fastest time, resulting in yet another medal ride-off against Strathclyde. This time it was Strathclyde who came off better, taking the bronze medal by 1.5 seconds. Anna had a further 2 events on Sunday afternoon; the remaining stages of the sprint competition and the scratch race. Unfortunately in the semi-final of the sprint competition she was beaten by last year’s winner, Corrine Hall. However, she easily defeated Manchester’s Rachel Murray in the bronze medal match to finish 3rd. A hard weekend of racing had taken its toll by the time the scratch race took place; Anna battled bravely and narrowly missed out on another medal in the finishing sprint, taking 4th.

All in all Cambridge have had an extremely successful few months of racing and this has seen the club rise to the top of the BUCS Cycling Points Table, 84 points clear of their nearest rivals, Loughborough. With only one competition remaining, the Cross-Country Mountain Bike Championships, it looks likely that Cambridge will once again take the BUCS Cycling crown, their 5th title in 6 years.

Total BUCS medal tally:

TTT:      Gold       Men – Wojciech Szlachta, Edmund Bradbury and Piran Tedbury
            Silver      Women – Hayley Simmonds, Jenny Haskell and Anna Railton
10:       Gold        Women’s individual – Hayley Simmonds
                          Women’s team – Hayley Simmonds and Jenny Haskell
                          Men’s team – Wojciech Szlachta, Edmund Bradbury and James Dixon
            Silver      Men’s individual – Wojciech Szlachta
25:        Gold       Men’s individual – Wojciech Szlachta
                          Men’s team – Wojciech Szlachta, Edmund Bradbury and James Dixon
                          Women’s team – Hayley Simmonds and Lucy Gossage
             Silver     Women’s individual – Hayley Simmonds
             Bronze  Men’s individual – Edmund Bradbury
                          Women’s team – Anna Railton and Jenny Haskell
Track:    Gold      Women’s team pursuit – Hayley Simmonds, Anna Railton, Jenny Haskell and Sarah Gallagher         
             Silver     Women’s 500m – Anna Railton
             Bronze   Women’s individual pursuit – Hayley Simmonds
                          Women’s match sprint – Anna Railton

Total: 8 gold, 4 silver, 4 bronze