Peter Young Memorial Road Race
Sunday 29th March

Experience counts in road racing. Gary Dodd (Sigma Sport) was confident on the finishing circuit that he could win the uphill sprint to the finish if he could keep the eight man breakaway group together.

On paper Yanto Barker (Le Col Colnago) seemed the favourite to win, and that was also how it looked to the spectators until the last few yards of the race. Yanto is a former British Junior National Road Race Champion, who pursued an arduous racing apprenticeship in France where he competed with success in first division races. He rode in this country as a professional until ‘retiring’ in 2007. This year is a comeback season, and he had already shown good form before the Hounslow race. When Barker took the special 30 prime (an intermediate prize, pronounced ‘preem’) at the end of the third lap of the finishing circuit and opened a gap it looked as though the race was already won.

However, the combined efforts of the remaining seven members of the breakaway closed the gap, leaving Barker to rely on his powerful finishing sprint. He unleashed this with 250 yards to go and opened a small gap, again giving the impression it was all over, but the wily lightweight Dodd pulled out something special, passing him in the last few yards of the climb to the finish line.

Gary Dodd is a 42 year old veteran from Epsom, Surrey. He has an amazingly consistent record in the Hounslow event: 2002 - 4th, 2005 - 1st, 2006 - 2nd, 2008 - 12th and now in 2009, another victory. Back at the HQ he commented: “When we got to the finishing circuit (at 66 miles) there was a five man break which I judged likely to stay away. With two others I managed to cross the gap - that chase was the hardest part of the day for me. Once the eight of us had come together I was fairly sure that if I could prevent anyone from escaping I would be able to win the sprint. I've raced up that climb so many times before.”

Yanto Barker said “I believed I was the strongest in the break and I felt good right up to the finish line, I didn't drop away. I'm not really a ‘power’ sprinter, I see myself as a roadman sprinter - that is to say, some one who can still produce a good burst of speed at the end of a long race when the others are tired, so I was surprised when Gary came past. He's still got a lot of talent and he knows how to use it. Local Elite races like this are harder to read than Premier Calendar events where everyone is in the red when the going gets tough and this makes it more difficult to hide a reserve of strength. Another 20 or 30 miles would have made a difference.”

There were seventy two starters in the 85 mile race which took place around the lanes between Chobham and Chertsey. The course consisted of two circuits, the first covering 8.8 miles of undulating road (7.5 laps), the second having 2.9 miles including the climb of Staple Hill (6.5 laps). The opening stages of the race were characterised by a succession of breakaways; some of these looked purposeful, and one created a big enough gap for it to be necessary to call in the reserve lead car for the main bunch, but all of these early efforts came to nothing.

Many of the riders commented on the high quality of the race organisation and marshalling, but the excellent work of Marty Rabbites and the two other motorcycle outriders from the National Escort Group made a big contribution to the safety and smooth running of the race.

View the full results here

Chris Lovibond