Ely & District Cycling Club’s first open time trial of the year, the Ely Hardriders race

ECDC Women's winner Lucy Charles

ECDC Women's winner Lucy Charles - Credit: Archant

On Sunday February 11 the Ely & District Cycling Club held its annual Hardriders open time trial, traditionally seen as the beginning of the year’s time trial racing season.

Veteran's winner on standard Mark Williams

Veteran's winner on standard Mark Williams - Credit: Archant

The Hardriders race is held over a 25-mile circuit featuring narrow, bumpy and rutted Fenland backroads.

The name of the race is a reference not only to the nature of the course but also the challenging conditions usually presented by racing in the middle of February.

EDCC member Zena Palgrave

EDCC member Zena Palgrave - Credit: Archant

This year’s race stayed dry, but the weather conditions helped the event live up to its name with near-freezing temperatures and strong gusty winds reaching up to 20mph, with descriptions of the conditions from competitors varying from ‘brutal’ to ‘a beautiful gale’.

The section of the course on Hundred Foot Bank - a section of road notorious among locals for its poor road surface - was even compared by one competitor to the pavé of the Paris-Roubaix race.

The windy conditions were reflected by the times, which were consistently slower than 2017.

Men's winner John Mulvey

Men's winner John Mulvey - Credit: Archant

Last year’s winner Felix Barker (Cambridge University Cycling Club) was one of only six riders to complete the course in less than an hour, but was pipped to second place by his team-mate John Mulvey who set the winning time of 57 minutes 13 seconds.

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Barker finished in a time of 57:47, while Sebastian Dickson of Thanet RC was a close third at 57:50.

Lucy Charles (Hoddesdon Tri Club) won the women’s race with a time of 1:05:43, followed by another Cambridge University CC member Jess Atkinson in second on 1:07:56.

Helen Gravett of London Women’s Racing CC, who had finished second in the 2017 event, rounded out the women’s podium with a time of 1:11:35.

Cambridge University CC also dominated the Under 23s races, with Rob Walker in first place and Toby Cowell in second, helping to secure CUCC the team prize.

Mark Williams of the RAFCA was the fastest veteran racing on standard, finishing 6:57 faster than his standard time.

The prize for the fastest rider on a road bike went to John Swindells of Iceni Velo-Duff Morgan who finished the course in 1:08:14.

Four EDCC members took part in the race. Dan Bromilow finished in 1:10:34, with John Manlow setting a time of 1:14:30, followed by Zena Palgrave (1:21:32) and Alastair Ray (1:29:32).