Newly UCI registered UK team Orange Monkey-Cannondale has gotten off to a cracking start taking their first win at the Thetford 4-hour enduro recently. Here’s their account of the race:
After a freezing cold week across the country, the temperatures rose when Orange Monkey – Cannondale HQ received the first new bikes for the season from our title sponsor and the team gathered together to get the bikes set up for the first race outing of the year, the next day.
Come Sunday morning and an early start for the team after a late night getting the kit ready, Paul, Chris and Ben arrived at a very cold and overcast (but dry) Thetford for round three of the Winter series. Alex hadn’t managed to get over recent illness so had to spend the day recovering at home.
At the start the team, after some real off road involving local bushes and ditches, Paul managed to get himself into a lead group as they began the first small climb of the day, Chris was battling hard to get through the field just behind him and Ben was overtaking further back to get in touch with his team mates.
At the end of the first lap a lead group of three had got away, this group contained the eventual winner Andrew Cockburn, Stephen James and Vet winner Paul Ashby. Next through were Paul and Chris riding together within a group of three and looking comfortable in 3rd and 4th while Ben had got through most of the field to get up into 6th in another group of three. Despite the cold all three were taking on lots of liquid and food and by lap two Paul and Chris had opened a gap to 5th while Ben had held position and was fighting for 6th and 7th.
On lap 4 with Paul suffering Chris dug deep and moved away, he was soon to be joined in the battle for third by young rider Alex Peters, a first year Junior who was blazing through the field. It looked for a while that Alex might go past Chris, but in the end Chris’s experience and tactical knowledge proved too much for Alex and on the last lap Chris put in repeated attacks to repel the challenge from Peters. Stephen James had pulled out of the race with two laps to go and this left Chris, on his Birthday to race to the finish and take a well deserved 2nd Place, a great Birthday present for him and great for the team.
Meanwhile a little way back, Paul had ridden through the pain and began to recover places again. In the end he came across the line looking strong in 8th place – a good omen for the coming season. Ben had struggled throughout the race after recent illness but recorded one of his fastest laps on the last lap. He finished a very tired but happy 17th place.
So the team had got their new training bikes, Cannondale F1 Aluminium Hardtails, out of the box on Saturday and all three bikes had gone through the whole 4 hour race without one single mechanical glitch. They can’t wait until the Cannondale Scalpels arrive which will be their race bike for this year. When asked about the new bikes the riders had this to say.
Chris commented: “Wow, what a great birthday present! Considering that was our training bike, I was amazed, it was lively and responsive and not at all heavy for an Aluminium bike. The team mechanics set it up yesterday out of the box and it was perfect, once we got our Mavic wheels and the KCNC parts on it was down to a real race weight!”
Paul added: “I rode hardtails in 2009 and a full-suss last year, I could have done with a softail round here as it is really punishing on the back, I also ran my KCNC low risers a little bit wide which I’ll put right for the next race but the bike felt really good. I can’t wait to get out on it more before we head out to Cyprus.”
Ben said: “That was hard, I felt better at the end but it was horrible in the middle. The bike felt great though. It is really supple at the back and at times it almost felt like my Scalpel from last year. I was really pleased with it.”
So a great outing for everyone and the next race for the team will be across the border in Wales for the first round of the Welsh MTB Series as a final warm up before the team head to Cyprus for the Sunshine Cup. Look out for more reports coming up.