Monday, November 18, 2013

Sarah: I've always liked Durham....

The British University Champs (BUCS) are held in Durham set against the beautiful setting of the cathedral and river. This year my university (Leeds) had many strong riders so we headed into the competition aiming high.

I got myself down to the start line early, as I knew how important a good start would be in race. 74 riders with men and women combined, I knew would allow me to 'hide' amongst the men if I could get away and establish an early lead. Bang, off we went. Foot in straight away, I sprinted flat out and made it into the top 12 or so boys approaching the first crucial corner, then it was up the steps and onto the top field were the technical turns began. I had gained a gap of about 15 seconds by the first lap and I knew I just needed to sustain the momentum for the next couple of laps.

I fought hard to extend my lead and by lap 2, the gap had stretched to 30 seconds. I added another 20 seconds in lap 3 and just tried to use the boys around me to draft me around the course. I felt comfortable, but knew I couldn't ease back too much, because the girls were still pushing on behind.

With one and a half laps to go, I could see the leading male riders catching me, so I eased right off the gas, and allowed them to overtake. Teammate Ed was battling with a rider from Manchester Met, so I cheered him on and rode happily through to the finish, listening intently to the battle between Ed and Alex Welburn for 1st place. Ed outsprinted Alex to take gold for Leeds, and I crossed the line immediately afterwards as the first placed female.

I was so happy to win, because the British University champs mean so much to student athletes. I had said to myself that I wanted to leave uni with a BUCS gold medal in something (like anything, if this cycling thing didn't work out I was going to start looking at more obscure sports. I had my eye on futsal or korfball). So to win with 3 years left at university feels quite strange, I thought I'd be chasing that gold for a lot longer....

To make the day even better, my teammate Kat Broadbent rode a superb race to finish 6th which earned us the team silver behind Birmingham University, whilst the boys showed their strength finishing 1st, 12th and 19th which was enough for the team gold! Double individual gold, team gold and silver, all I can say is: LEEDS, LEEDS, LEEDS!!!

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