With DUCC alumni Matt Rossiter the defending champion of the 3/4 series of the four round Hitchfield Spring Series it fell to the current crop of Durham riders to keep this prestigious jersey in the trophy cabernet.
Round one, held at our local Hetton circuit became a precession as Durham riders Dan Bryant and Andy Miles forced a 3 man break with local vet John Cann, of Blumilk Race Team. Working together in a perfect lead out Dan easily took the win with lead out extraordinaire Andy taking third. However, with Mr Miles busy finishing off his degree it fell to 2nd year Dan Bryant to maintain the University’s dominance.
The 1km purpose built cycle circuit at Prisick was the hunting ground for Round 2 of the series. With the weather gods seeming completely unaware that it was spring, the race became more a Milan-San-Remo of the North as riders battled through horizontal sleet in sub-zero temperatures. Despite this Dan managed to break away in the final lap and, after a hard fought sprint, swept up 2nd giving him an 8 point lead in the series overall.
As round three at Hetton approached the snow lingered and DUCC riders once again turned to the turbos causing untold frustration to housemates, neighbours and entire colleges alike. By Saturday the snow had just about cleared and the racing was back on. Now a marked man and having started to race with ‘the big boys’ in the E123 earlier in the day Dan was unable to force the break. A strong solo ride from Ilkley Cycle Club rider Ben Hallworth saw him embarrass an entire field by TTing ¾ of the race coming in nearly 1 minute ahead of the chasing bunch. Fortunately, and much to the surprise of all of DUCC, Dan was able to pull of a sprint finish to once again finish 2ndand further consolidate the series lead.
The final round, a week after term ended, was once again a cold, hard, windy slog around Prissick. Having once again opted to race in a fast E123 earlier in the day and coming down with the dreaded man flu Dan was not feeling strong. Now fully marked and not feeling on form he was once again not able to make the break and when last weeks winner Ben Hallworth slipped off the front an inevitability became apparent – that was the last we’d see of Ben. With 3 laps to go he sat in trying to prepare for the sprint but in his daydreamy state he found myself ¾ of the way down the field with just 1 lap to go. An attack went off the front and it became all or nothing. Forced to open up a near sprint down the back straight and cut the 3rd last corner – taking the mtbers line through the grass – he swung out at 6th wheel in a long line of riders. With 3rd guaranteeing a new shinny 2nd cat licence he once again opened up the sprint early taking a further 3 riders, rolling over the line 5th. He’d won the series but was an infuriating 2 points off 2nd cat.
With the sprint crit races out the way DUCC are squeezing into their skin suits and donning the ‘sperm hats’ ready for three successive weekends of BUCS time trails.