First race for us today is at 9:15, we leave the campsite at 8am and I send sympathetic thoughts to family Lloyd whose first race is due to start in 15 minutes. Our start feels early enough. We are heading for a residential area in east Assen for a closed road criterium. There is tension in the car as the nerves mount. This is their first bunch race of the tour and we have no idea what to expect. I have been told the racing is very fast and starts on the b of the bang.
We park where we see other cars with bike racks and walk towards the start. I am regretting leaving my trolley in England when we were trying and failing to fit everything in the car on Thursday. Rollers are not comfortable to carry. Bob and Julie are already at the start cheering on Anna Lloyd who is nearing the end of her race. She will still be old enough to race in this category next year and performs well, finishing just behind the main bunch.
The gazebo has a prime position near the start. It’s really nice to see welcoming faces and have a base to settle in. The base improves even more over the day as Ali Selfe brings her camping stove and cooks up pancakes for the riders as they finish their races. Carys Lloyd races next in Category 2, finishing 11th and 3rd girl, a really strong ride. We have 3 riders in Category 4. Owen Prenelle and Daniel Lloyd both finish in the first bunch, 18th and 25th. Eleanor finishes in the second bunch, finishing with a fierce sprint. She is disappointed as her chain fell of on the speed bump after she had been sprinting across to get onto the back of the bunch. I am happy to see her safely back and am proud of her final sprint.
Luke Prenelle is unfortunate to crash in Category 6, going over his handlebars. He is able to carry on and finishes the race in the bunch at 18th. I nervously watch Max, Harrison, Dexter and Ritchie in Category 7. They fly round the corners. It looks fast. 16 laps is a long way. They all hold the pace, over 40 kmh throughout, and finish in the main bunch. No crashes.
Aspiranten next – this is Leo’s chance. The Aspiranten category is for 5-10 year olds without race licences and is further split by age and type of bike. Leo finishes 7th out of 7 in his group. “They went too fast” he said. “I liked the start best because I was at the front then.” He’s happy though and has some thoroughly deserved chips and mayonnaise.
Christian Manzi finishes in the bunch in the Nieuwelingen, Marco Passfield was extremely unlucky to crash close to the end and has to chase back. He is the deserved winner of the LVYCC yellow jersey for today. Nieuwelingen (which I have just learned to spell) is a massive category of 140 riders. Most Assen categories are single year categories, with boys racing with girls a year older. Nieuwelingen is a two year category, equivalent to u16s. There are separate boys and girls races.
Our Juniors finish in the main bunch today, with James Ambrose Parish first of the three at 32nd.
Step Count for me: 14,546. Not sure how many of these were carrying rollers but my shoulder says a lot.