Men’s National 25 mile time trial championship

Men’s National 25 mile time trial championship on Norfolk course B25/4 on Sunday morning 7 August – Bruce Williams
A gap of just 3 seconds separated Ryan Perry (Langdale Lightweights RT) from second placed Richard Bussell (Aerocoach – the same team as women’s champion, Hayley Simmonds) when the top male riders came to Norfolk to do battle in the men’s National Time Trial Championship held on the A11 Snettertonn / Mulbarton course on Sunday morning.  Promoted this year by Don Saunders and the East District CA, the 25 mile time trial championship is the blue ribbon event of the tt season and it certainly attracted  a stellar field as virtually all of the top time triallists in the country were there along with a good number of spectators and helpers.
As in the women’s event in Cambridgeshire on Saturday, defending champion Perry retained his title, but only when coming from behind in the last 10 miles to win by the narrowest of margins.  Like Hayley Simmonds, army captain Perry, 29, has now won the ‘25’, ‘50’ and ‘100’ mile championships this season, with just the ‘10’ to come in 10 days time.  With professional riders Alex Dowsett (Movistar UCI) and James Gullen (Pedal Heaven) both said to be entering the ‘10, it will not be easy for Perry to get the clean sweep, but will certainly make for a great race and spectacle for large numbers of spectators.
With an 8am start for the first rider, conditions were pleasantly warm on Sunday morning if rather humid, but a defining factor in the race was the strong wind estimated at 20-25 mph early on, but increasing steadily as the morning progressed.  With the big names seeded and placed at two minute intervals at the end of the field – Perry being last man off at number 160 at 1040 am – it was still a a level playing field for the top contenders, but decisive nonetheless.  The powerful wind helped riders on the north east leg of 13 miles up to the top turn at Browick Road / Mulbarton (where I was marshalling) but the 12 mile return leg was, to say the least, extremely tough.  Nothing like a powerful head wind to sort the men out from the boys.
Bussell, the winner of the National 10 and Hill climb championship last season, was said by some observers to be 20 seconds up on his rival at the turn and still ahead with 6 miles to go, but Perry turned it on in the last miles into the teeth of the wind to win by the tightest of margins, generously acknowledging at the Snetterton hq that Bussell would have been a worthy winner. Perry first came to prominence last season when he was a surprise winner of the ‘25’ when beating multi champion Matt Bottrill (who is now focussing on his coaching business at which he is doing very well) by 20 seconds. Receiving the trophy at the Snetterton hq, in an entertaining short acceptance speech he said that he was surprised but flattered to win and thanked his army superiors, and Langdale as sponsors, for their considerable help in developing his cycling career.  Plenty of help and training time no doubt, but with some result. 
The top placed riders and their clubs or teams are shown here below :-
1 Ryan Perry Langdale Lightweights R T 00:46:31
2 Richard Bussell AeroCoach 00:46:34
3 Kieron Davies DRAG2ZERO 00:47:47
4 Matt Clinton Mike Vaughan Cycles 00:47:56
5 Adam Duggleby Secret-training CC 00:48:06
6 Christopher Fennell Thanet RC 00:48:29
7 Colin Ward Essex Roads CC 00:48:37
8 Stephen Irwin North Lancs RC 00:48:40
9 John Dewey Team Bottrill 00:48:42
10 Ashley Cox CC Luton 00:48:48
Many of the top riders put on a 58 tooth chain-ring to take advantage of the fast outward leg where they were no doubt touching 40 mph in places, before getting down into the best aerodynamic position possible for the long stretch home.  Matt Clinton in 4th place (same as with the other championship distances this season) used a 55 tooth ring and felt that he had missed out.
Despite the strong winds, the times of the top two riders beat the 25 championship record time of Michael Hutchinson (47.01) set in 2012.  Team Bottrill (John Dewey, Matthew Smith and Jonathan Parker also took the championship team record with an aggregate time of 2.26.41.
Colin Ward of Essex Roads CC came 7th with a mid 48 minute ride and, as an interesting comparison, he did a 47 minute ride on the E2 in April when coming second to Alex Dowsett when he broke National Competition record with a 44.29 ride in an ECCA event.  Professional star and time trial specialist, Alex would have been winning this event had he entered, but probably by only just over a minute, the E2 course being faster than this one.
Charlie Nurse flew the flag for the North Norfolk Wheelers recording a time of 52.39.  I timed Charlie at just under 25 minutes at the 13.1 mile turn meaning he did the 12 mile return leg in about 27.5 minutes.  Just back from a holiday cruise on Friday evening, this was all things considered a strong effort by Charlie.  Looking at the times of his rivals, who he was beating or very close to a few weeks before, I estimate that he was about 90 seconds off the time that he would have done on his pre-vacation form.  That is not a lot after two weeks off the bike and I am sure that he will regain top form in no time.
I said above that it was a windy, tough day and indeed it was.  Like other competitors and officials, I am left contemplating with wonder how it is that amateur stars like Perry and Bussell can achieve times of 46 minutes and what you have to do to get that good?  If I discover the secret (and no doubt to the delight of the readers) I might promptly retire, hopefully on the healthy proceeds.