Another action packed two weeks for Team WNT has seen it in action across a variety of individual races, as well as the National Championships in Britain and Ireland. The hectic pace was worth it, though, as Team WNT now boasts its very own National Champion.... and a new signing to add strength to the squad.
First up was the challenging Curlew Cup event held in Stanfordham, Northumberland, this one-day race would give the team a good idea of form as it was just a week before the National Championships. Team tactics came in to play when the weather took a tune for the worse, with rain showers, strong winds and cool temperatures, causing several racers from other teams abandon due to the chill factor. To capitalise on the circumstances Team WNT decided to target the sprints competition with Jo Tindley taking up the lead role. With three laps of the short section followed by the gruelling final longer leg that took in the fearsome climb of the Ryals, Team WNT worked together to lead out Jo who did a great job on each lap crossing the line first on two occasions and second on a third, giving her the win in the sprints.
Backing up Jo was Lydia Boylan who put in a solid performance, closing down several breaks for the team and finishing in a very commendable 20th position. This all boded well ahead of the Irish National Road Race Championships. The luck, however, didn’t hold up for Charline Joiner with disaster striking on the final lap. While in a good position she hit a hole in the road and suffered a double puncture, while the team car was on-hand to change the rear wheel, which had virtually exploded! She was then paced back to the group, but it became apparent that the front wheel also had a slow puncture, so another change was needed. So close to the final climb up the Ryals and the end of the race her race was ruined, so it was a sad end to the day for Charline. On a positive note, though, the Curlew Cup saw the debut for Team WNT of its new signing, Belgian racer Pia De Quint. Pia brings with her significant experience of racing on the European circuit and will be a strong addition as Team WNT moves forwards with its plans.
Off to the Nationals
Following the Curlew Cup the team started to look forward to the National Championships, but before then Brit Tate had a solo outing in her hometown criterium in Ilkley, Yorkshire. In typical Brit style she forced the break from the start and took a very credible second place overall on the night. On this positive note the bulk of the team headed for Lincoln for the British National Championships, while Lydia headed off to Omagh in Ireland for the Irish National Championships. The circuit in Lincoln is well known thanks to the cobbled ascent of Michaelgate, which the Ladies had to tackle five times, not before the peloton had completed a 30 mile circuit around the surrounding villages, in the knowledge that heading the way would be the powerhouses of Lizzie Armistead and Laura Trott who the rest of the field had to try and hang on to!
The race proved to be one of attrition, with more and more riders being dropped off on every climb of Michaelgate. Unsurprisingly it was Lizzie Armistead that took the win with an awesome display of power. Charline was Team WNT’s highest place finisher in 18th place, a very good result against the calibre of rider present and a real motivating result for years to come. All the team rode really well and definitely gave the race some WNT presence!
Meanwhile, over in Ireland Lydia put in an awesome effort to win her National Championship. “It was just one of those races where everything just worked out. I raced positively and kept myself near the front for the first two (of four laps) - Starting the third lap Olivia Dillon put in an attack taking another 11 riders with her. This group worked together for less than half a lap and this gave me my opportunity to attack, in the hope of splitting the group, but nobody followed and I found myself out in front on my own for about 10km when a small group pulled me back, which I wasn’t unhappy about, but was wary of any attacks that might come.”
Fearing that she had lost her chance to win the National Championship Lydia was pleased to see this group of six riders deciding to work together, holding off the rest of the field. This gave Lydia’s legs time to recover and her mind started preparing for the run to the finish line. The technical finish with a 90 degree turn just 150 metres from the line posed its own challenges and Lydia had to position herself well to be able to sprint for the line. “At about 500 metres Eve McCrystal attacked, Fiona Meade (the defending champion) chased and I was on her wheel. Eve pulled a gap, but I knew I had to remain calm. The final left hand bend approached so I took a wide line around the corner to maintain some speed. I was worried that I was 4th around the corner, but it was head down as I sprinted as fast as I could to the finish line. I crossed that line and look around. I’d won! It was disbelief. I really never thought I’d be able to pull off the win. But it happened! I’d done it! 2015 National Road Champion! And to do it in front of so many of my family. Just amazing! A perfect day!”
"This is an incredible personal achievement for Lydia and also a superb result for Team WNT, which now has its ‘first’ National Champion's jersey among its ranks. For a team only part way through its first season together this is a superb achievement by everyone involved. On an individual level, a massive well done and congratulations to Lydia," says Marcus Nainby, Team Manager.
After the excitement of the National Championships it was straight back to the reality of the legendary Otley GP around the streets of Yorkshire town’s historic centre. As expected all of the races at Otley were fast and furious, and held on the hottest day of the summer, so far. The women’s race was typical of this with Dame Sarah Storey Dame Sarah Storey setting the early pace and escape the bunch alongside Annasley Park. The pair worked well together increasing their lead until Team WNT stepped up to chase them down, halving the gap in just two laps. Then Charline’s bad luck returned when she punctured on the fast, rough descent back to the finish. Unlike the Matrix Fitness series, this event doesn’t allow laps out, resulting in her race being over as there was no way of bridging the gap that had opened up. Team WNT’s focus switched to Brit, who managed to stay up with the leaders, hanging on for a very credible, and well-deserved, sixth place.