Altura ThunderCrit II

Hosted by the North London ThunderCats (NLTCBMBC) at the famous Lee Valley Velo Park. ThunderCrit allows grassroots riders to compete against some of the best fixed gear riders in the world in front of a huge crowd, with races for men and women and major and minor finals to promote rider development. 

Over 150 riders, divided over the men’s and women’s category, showed up to participate in the fixed gear crit. With only 1 hairpin the course wasn’t very technical but the hilly circuit combined with strong winds made it a tough race for everyone. To kick things off, there were 3 heats for the men and 1 for ladies, with the top 25 from each going into their respective finals. For those that didn't make the top 25 there were minor finals too, furthering encouraging development in fixed gear racing.

72 finalists were lined up on the track and the race rules were repeated once again. The gun went and they were off down the long straight to corner two and the fastest guys fought their way up to the front of the race for the first lap prime. Matt Payne (ELF Huez) took the prime ahead of Dimitri Demishev (NLTCBMBC) and Alec Briggs (Specialized Rocket Espresso). Then Brian Megens (Fixed Gear Crit) and Alessandro Mariani (IRC Carrera SC) attacked. After several laps their effort seemed neutralised when Brian launched a solo attack. However, the field was too strong for such a long solo effort, and with 15 rounds to go the main pack was back together.

It was Owen Blandy who took the free pizza provided by Yard Sale Pizza prime. After the primes were settled the peloton seemed to calm down when Eike Haumann launched his solo attack forcing the peloton to go full gas. Eike’s attack looked promising especially when he achieved a 10 second gap on the peloton. However, with 6 laps in he was brought back in the main bunch although, Eike didn’t give up without a battle and he attacked again and lead the field for several laps. The attacks weren’t successful in the end it did bring him the top antagonist award.

With one lap to go, a bunch of 24 riders were together and it looked like everyone was getting ready for a mass sprint. It was Alec Briggs who positioned himself the best and kicked up the short punchy climb awarding himself with a comfortable looking victory with a 1 second lead over everyone else. Paul Vanotti (Disorderly Habits) and Alessandro Mariani sprinted for 2nd and 3rd.

In the women’s finals it was Jo Smith who immediately was alert in the front and took the prime. The race then settled into a pace with NLTCBMBC’s Caz Pulford sitting on the front of the group taking the wind for a couple of laps. Aoife Doherty (The 5th Floor), tried a few times to thin the field out down the back straights, but the main pack kept reeling her back in. Halfway through the race it was time for the 12” Pizza prime. As the bell signalled the start of this lap the women put the hammer down again and it was full gas for the whole lap as Jo Smith took her second Prime of the day.

It was just after this point in the race that Sophie Edmondson (The 5th Floor), in her first fixed gear crit, decided to take the race by the scruff of the neck and set the pace off the front of field. The move lasted nearly 3 laps, but the pain on everyone’s faces afterwards lasted until the finish line. The pack of 14 women raced hard until the last lap and, in the end, 2.5 seconds was the difference from 1st to 14th. Jo Smith, took the victory ahead of a photo finish between Brooke Phillips (ELF Huez) and Hayley Edwards (Stanridge Cycles). The timing system gave the same time to both women, but the replays show that half a wheel was the difference and Brooke took the 2nd place on the podium.

ThunderCrit was another fantastic event hosted by NLTCBMBC  and one which we were proud to support.