Commissaire for today’s tour stage was Raymond. On announcing the route, he informed everyone that he’d be “leading” from behind in the “gruppetto”. Almost immediately a chorus rang out reminiscent of the film Spartacus. “I’m gruppetto”, “I am gruppetto”, ” No I’m gruppetto”.
Fifteen Knights elected to take part in today’s hilly 50 miler. Splitting the group into three teams proved to be a headache for the commissaire, mulling over various combinations before announcing the start times. The “GC” contenders assembled at Market Cross for a 0945 start, while the “Pursuivants” met at Manor House for a 0940 start followed by the “Gruppetto” at 0950.
The “GC” contenders set off towards Manor House with Mike taking the “lead” setting a strong pace from the off. The first “catch” of the day came quicker than expected as the GC team passed the Gruppetto “lolling” about on the corner at Cherry Burton. As they “cheered” us by, it felt we were on a real tour. “Allez Allez Allez” At this point, Mark and Windy took up the pace setting until heading towards Holme-on-the-Wolds where Mike once again jumped onto the front.
Mark along with Pugwash took up the running as we passed the church and turned onto the Middleton-on-the-Wolds Road. Approaching the junction with the Kiplingcotes road, Mark suddenly veered left with everyone about to follow until Pugwash pointed out the error of his ways. All together again we made for the long slog up the Goodmanham road. About half way up, Mark, Windy and Michael had brief moment of madness and set off in a breakaway leaving Pugwash, Mike and Andy trailing along behind. By the time we regrouped at Goodmanham, Mike decided the pace was too much for him and returned home. Meanwhile Michael had continued onwards, with the rest of us thinking that he was trying to get a head start on Intake Hill, however he waited for us at the next junction.
A split occurred again when we hit Intake Hill with Mark and Windy showing good early season form stretching out a lead to Nunburnholme top and catching our first glimpse of the Pursuivants. However, the “chase” group managed to reestablish a lead as the GC team stopped to regroup.
Heading down Bailey Lane we came across some kamikaze pheasants trying their best to run under the wheel before taking evasive action. From Warter, it was time for another uphill slog as we made our way to Huggate. The road surface along this section is akin to a ploughed field in places, so did not make for the most comfortable ride. Finally from Huggate it was time to reap some reward for all our climbing efforts with the landscape generally heading downwards through Tibthorpe to Kirkburn.
The final “catch” of the Pursuivants came at Hutton allowing us to arrive together to the Farm Shop feed station. The GC team “held back” 😉 so as not to jump the queue ahead of the Pursuivants. However it turned out that the queue was rather long so Mark, Michael, Windy and Pugwash of the GC team decided to carry on home without refuelling and were joined by James G and Matt from the Pursuivants.
It was disappointing not to be able to enjoy our sustenance, making do with gels and energy bars instead. Most cafes will be opening again for outdoor catering next week, so fingers crossed for some good weather over the next month. Our route today was a wonderful combination of uphill and down Dale and seems to have been enjoyed by most. You can argue among yourselves who took the “Yellow Jersey”