ThunderCrit Race Report with Owen Blandy
Jam Ambassador, Owen Blandy, races fixed and has been using the Verve track InfoCrank to
measure his power during training and racing. Sometimes though, big power numbers aren’t
enough. A successful race result is the outcome of everything coming together on the day.
Read about his experience at ThunderCrit III earlier in June.
In previous years, I’d come 4th and had won the most aggressive rider, so I was semi-
confident about how I could perform in the 2018 edition.
I also know the circuit very well having raced mid-week crits here [Lea Valley] for several
years. So, I planned to use my technical and handling skills to force the pace.
I'm usually quite nervous before racing, often isolating myself and listening to intense music (Heavy Metal or Beethoven...!). Whilst this approach can focus the mind and provide a sense
of purpose, direction and hunger, I was looking at changing this for a more relaxed attitude.
Still taking the race seriously, and pushing my physical and physiological limits, but being
more chilled in preparation!!
It seemed to work and I really enjoyed the atmosphere on race day, having so many friends
either supporting or racing is fantastic and it really pushes me to dig deep when the hurt
locker comes knocking.
So, thank you to all who came and cheered or supported me in any way!
Tapering and Pre-Race Efforts
The race this year was slightly later in the year than the previous editions. Last year it was
held the weekend after Red Hook Crit New York, so I could use my form and fitness from
RHC. However, this year it was the first weekend of June and just one week before London
Nocturne, which I was consequently missing. So, I planned my training and recovery around
the Thundercrit date.
I did my usual preparation of a hard 2-hr tempo/threshold session on the Wednesday
followed by recovery/tempo rides on the Thursday and Friday. On the Friday, I throw in three
10-second sprints just to keep the blood flowing and muscles primed for racing the following
On race day, I arrived at the Lea Valley velopark in good time for my qualifying, but not for
the practice session. However, I didn't want to get into race mode too early and just chose to chill out whilst meeting and greeting.
Qualifying was a pretty straightforward affair with only ELF and CycleIN division being the
real contenders. I began to move up the pack and stayed near the front watching a few of the
CycleIN boys as they attacked.
One of the moves seemed to stick, so I went as well, bridging the gap fairly easily and then
joining him on his wheel. Following a few transnational differences, we began to work together and soon had a 10-15 second gap. The race was only 12 laps (about 10km) so a very short effort. Therefore, I decided to pull some big turns to establish the pace and make him hurt a bit.
Last lap of qualifying and I was going for the win, meaning I could be on the front row and
have a chance of the Prime (and a good racing position). I attacked from his blind side, as we
went through the last technical left hander. My breakaway companion gave a small kick, but
ultimately blew up, so I had time to enjoy winning my heat.
So nearly everything was going to plan, equipment, kit, team mates, support - everything is bang on and i'm feeling relaxed on the start line.
I had worked really hard all winter training in horribly cold and wet conditions and here i was on the biggest 'Home' race of the year.
I had no excuses for a good result.
The start was predictably fast and hectic, i promptly missed my clip-in!!. Although the course leads straight into a hairpin so i had time to find my pedal and get sorted out.
I maintained top 5 position going round the first lap until the last corner where the Prime attacks started. I left the first one and then went with the second one. Unfortunately we got dive bombed on the line and i missed it by a wheel's length.
Still well positioned for the race though.
But as i recovered from the effort, i slid down the pack somewhat top around 10th. I think it was this moment where other string riders rose up the peloton and mounted the winning move.
It was Oliver Leroy who went solo off the front and i seemed to not see it or i was too far back to witness it.
Quickly specialized sent Stefan Schafer up the road and no-one from any other team seemed to react, including myself and my team. This was where the race was lost.
As the laps ticked on, the breakaway managed to push on somewhat and got about 30 seconds. The race was won and despite my many efforts to lead a chase, i couldn't do it alone and didn't get much help from any other teams.
Alec, who eventually won the race, then bridged up to the breakaway solo, i hesitated and went with him but couldn't close the gap so settled back into the peloton.
But i thought i'd give it a good smash anyway so i spent a lot of time counter attacking or leading the race, frantically waggling my elbow to let someone else come through.
In the end, i was starting to run out of steam, i had pushed all race with many efforts over 1,000w.
And in the end, i didn't see the worth of coming top 10 and risking crashing. I settled for 12th having absolutely given everything.
My fitness and bike handling seems to be coming along nicely and i'm happy with the work i've put in.
It seems this race was lost through strategy and lack of cohesion from my team and fellow athletes.
I still had an amazing day and wish to thank NLTCBMBC for hosting such a perfect day. Onwards and upwards as i continue to learn the ropes of Crit racing, i'll now be focusing my efforts on Tuesday nights at Crystal Palace and at several town center Crits in Surrey (Guildford and Farnham in early July)
Quirk Cycles ELF Crit frame - 54'
Halo Carbaura Wheels
InfoCrank Track Power Meter - 165mm
Gear Ratio 48/14
Fizik Saddle and Finishing kit
Cole Coatings Paint job
Vittoria Corsa Gumwall Tyres - 25mm