The cheers that greeted Ultan Coyle’s (Rapha Condor CC) success were almost as good as those that hailed Mark Cavendish’s win on the Champs-Elysees on Sunday.
While Cav’s success was viewed thanks to the television in the event headquarters in the Farndon Sports and Social Club, Coyle’s was admired by the other riders, and their supporters, who had spent the past 24 hours fighting for the honours in the RTTC 24-hour National Championship.
Incorporated in the 69th Mersey Roads Club `24` the championship was blessed with good weather from the start at 1pm on Saturday until after the last riders had pulled to a halt after 2.30pm on Sunday.
Coyle, second in last year’s Mersey Roads event, had faced an early battle with former national champion David Shepherd (GS Stella) with only minutes between the pair over the early hours. As the day progressed Coyle eat into the 10 minutes that separated them on the start sheet.
Eventually catching Shepherd Coyle later said, “I could see he did not look in a good way when I passed him.” Shepherd, champion in 1999 and 2002 was later to pull to a halt `exhausted.`
Coyle was signalled as leader from the 100-mile mark with a calculated time of 4-11-35, with Peter Moon (Eastbourne Rovers) at 15-06; Stuart Birnie (Willesden CC) at 17-21 and Ishmael Burdeau (GS Gazzette) at 17-42.
With darkness upon them and 12 hours behind them Coyle still held the lead, having covered 260.971 miles. Moon was about four miles down, still in second spot while Burdeau had edge ahead of Birnie by 2 ½ miles to move to third.
Night turned to day and while Coyle hung on to his advantage over the second 12 hours Birnie finished strong enough to make up his deficit on Burdeau and Moon to run out second with Burdeau in third.
Coyle’s winning 488.993 miles was just over 20 better than in the Mersey Roads `24` last year; Bernie, 17th in the 2011 championship `24` with 425.84 miles, ran out with 480.723 miles this time. Burdeau’s bronze medal was won with 472.332 miles, 19 miles more than he covered in the 2011 championship where he finished seventh.
Not unusually, Lynne Taylor (Born to Bike Bridgetown Cycles) took the female honours with 438.128 miles. At the same time she led Born to Bike to team victory backed by John Corfield, 410.992 miles, and Dave Pemberton, 359.629 miles, both riding their first `24`. Their total 1,208.749 miles.
It was the fourth time that Taylor had shared in a team success in the Championship `24`.
Born to Bike’s Marina Bloom teamed up with Ralph Dadswell (Antelope RT) on the tandem-trike to successfully attack the mixed tandem-trike 24-hour competition record adding 23 miles to the previous best with their 425 miles.
All of the individual men medallists posted `PBs`. “I don’t ride time trials really, I’ve ridden the Mersey Roads twice before (he finished ninth in 2010) today and just one 100-mile time trial. In fact my `100` today was about six minutes faster than the one I ride in Ireland,” Coyle said.
“I spend most of my time riding on my own, I’ve ridden the Paris-Brest-Paris, that’s the kind of event I like. I felt alright for the first 12 hours but towards the end I had a very bad patch,” Coyle admitted.
Birnie, like Coyle and Burdeau, was pleased at doing a PB. “I did 425 miles in last year’s championship, this year’s course was a lot flatter than last year’s,” Birnie said looking the freshest of he top three.
Down in 12th place was long-distance cyclist Chris Hopkinson, now in the colours of the Army Cycling Union. “I had two punctures and my legs were hurting so much I had to get off and walk for 10 minutes, Hopkinson said.
He is a clarinettist in an Army band and still finds time to take on long-distance events. He has ridden the 3,000 mile Race Across America. “I’m looking at doing on a fixed wheel, its never been done before,” a pink haired Hopkinson said.
We’ll leave the last words to Tabitha Rendall (Club Cyclepath), making her debut at `24` at 41. She did 389.039 miles and admitted, “my bottom is very sore, but it was good fun and an experience.”
We expect that applied to a lot of others on Sunday.