Guernsey Press

Five riders qualify for Gran Fondo 'Worlds'

THE Guernsey Velo Club’s women shone on both days of the Tour of Cambridgeshire last weekend.

Andrea Nightingale atop of the podium after winning the women’s aged 60-64 road race. (32189373)

They bagged four podium placings in Saturday’s 16-mile individual time-trial and another two in Sunday’s 66-mile road race, signing off in style from a popular annual cycling festival that is unfortunately set to stop following persistent complaints from residents, politicians and businesses about closures around the Peterborough area.

The women accounted for four of the five Guernsey riders who, after their performances, have qualified for August’s UCI Gran Fondo World Championships in Scotland. These will be held alongside the professional road World Championships for the first time.

Island and Commonwealth Youth Games rider Helena Duguid topped the under-19 women’s podium, naturally as the only competitor in the category, after completing the bumpy, pot-holed time-trial loop in 42min. 21sec. Sadly there was no Worlds qualifying spot available for her age group.

‘I’m really happy how it went,’ she said.

‘I felt strong and quick throughout, and it was good to race in the UK and compare myself to others and not just Guernsey racers.’

Andrea Nightingale’s time of 43-41 was good enough for second in the women’s 60-64 category.

Island Games mountain bike team member Jamy Petit-Fulgoni demonstrated her on-road prowess, finishing strongly to catch several riders along the final long headwind straight and claim third women’s 35-39 competitor in 41-14.

Slightly quicker still was Island Games stalwart and veteran Karina Jackson, whose 41-10 put her third in her own age group of 50-54s.

Disaster struck Jackson on the way to the podium, though, as a freak mechanical on the short ride back from the team van meant she had to sit out Sunday’s road race.

Club president Alex Margison continued his good form on the time-trial bike so far this season, posting the fastest time of the day among the Guernsey contingent with 37-01.

This was good for tenth place in the men’s 45-49 age group but an agonising 15sec. outside of the nine available automatic Worlds qualifying places.

Margison made sure of an invite to Scotland in the road race, though.

He again posted the fastest Guernsey time of the day – 2hrs 35min. – and his 46th place in his age group was just enough to qualify after he finished safely in the main bunch behind a late breakaway of four riders.

Crashes hampered the other men, with Mark Smith caught on the wrong side of a split in the group after a crash completely blocked the road just 20 miles into the men’s 50-54 race.

He finished 91st, ahead of Steve Palmer and hometown boy Nathan Medlock in 108th and 111th respectively.

Once again, a Guernsey rider missed out on qualification by a matter of seconds as Andrew Godfrey, competing in his first off-island race, finished in 37th place in the aged 60-64 race after working together with teammate James Duguid for the final few miles. He fell just one place shy of automatic spot in Scotland.

It was therefore left to the women to show the men where the podium was, as Nightingale went one place better than Saturday by winning her age group and collecting a rainbow jersey for her efforts.

Petit-Fulgoni and Danielle Hanley posted creditable 14th and 17th places respectively in their age groups as fellow Island Games rider Jamie-Lee Wright, riding for her London Academy team, ended eighth in the 35-39 race to claim an invite to Scotland in August.

Bev Godfrey rounded out the Velo Club’s podium visits with a third place and automatic qualification place in her first-ever road race in the women’s 65-plus category.

‘It was a real eye opener for me,’ Godfrey said.

‘The start was an experience, and I nearly got dropped straight away, but managed to hold onto the pack.

'I’m so glad I never gave up as the end result was awesome and a big surprise.’

Margison said he was ‘really proud’ of the women’s performances.

‘It shows how far women’s cycling has progressed on-island in the last couple of years, and it was great to see the Island Games riders amongst them in such good form with just a month to go.

‘You get used to riding with people whose strengths and weaknesses you know so well in Guernsey, so racing in bigger groups and against other riders you don’t know always adds a different dimension to your race tactics that we can’t always replicate back home week in week out, so I’m hoping it bodes well for July.’

He added that the poor state of the roads on Saturday had left a few apprehensive about Sunday’s race.

‘I had a close call with a couple of riders go down right in front of me with about 10 miles to go, which I managed to avoid through luck rather than judgement, so it was a relief everyone managed to finish safely.

‘I know there’s a few wildcard places available for the World Championships, so with a bit of luck I’ll get one for the time-trial and “Goff” [Andrew Godfrey] will get into the road race, but we’ll have to wait and see.’