Luke Gray opened his account for new team, Trek Cross Collective at the weekend. Dad Rob gives this fatherly report…..Cyclocross turned its first wheels of new Wessex League cross season at round 1 in Oxford on Saturday The event at Spires Academy Cowley is a course which Luke has ridden many times over the last 10 cross seasons. Set out on the terraced schools playing fields, this was going to be a dry fast race in hot sunny weather, with only the very sharp steep banks and small wood to break the riders up.
The whistle was sounded and the race was off at a fast pace with a group of 5 riders breaking away within the first half lap. Over the first 2 laps the leading group of Luke (Trek Cross Collective), Ben Sumner (Beeline Cycles), Will Bjergfelt (Cycle Premier/ Kovert), Michael Cotty (Wheelbase Cannondale) and Andrew Hargroves (Hargroves Cycles) had built up a comfortable lead. Luke had dangled around the back of the group up to this point but decided to liven things up. Approaching the wood he made his way to the front of the group but had to fight for it with Andy, who probably suspected Luke was going to put in an attack knowing how good Luke's technical skills are on a cross bike. Up until this point everybody throughout the day had either dismounted or rode around a big fallen tree. Not Luke though, he bunny hopped the fallen tree with ease and rode up the following bank while all the others rode round or dismounted and ran up the bank. As Luke came out of the woods he had a 15 second lead leaving the others frantically chasing. Luke kept the pace up for a couple of laps, but the 4 chaser's couldn't bring Luke back as he continued to take time back the group had gained hopping the tree. Then the group started to break up with Andy the first to drop off followed by Mike who rolled a tub, so Mike had to make a bike change.
Luke had seen Ben was on his own so eased up a little to make it two at the front and they soon had about 30 seconds over the chasers taking it in turns on the front. With the two strongest riders now clearly out in front it looked unlikely they would get caught as the laps past by. Ben had attacked a couple of times but it came to nothing, Luke also did the same riding up one of the steep banks where Ben would normally have to run up, but Ben was soon back up to Luke.
Approaching the final lap Luke and Ben were still together as the bell rang out with nothing between them. So it was looking like it would come down to a sprint as they weaved their way around the course with Luke sitting comfortably behind waiting for Ben to make his move. Then straight after the penultimate corner Ben opened up his sprint, Luke was right on his tail but with slower back markers on the course and the fast approaching final corner there was no way around and once around the final bend it was only 30 metres to the line with more back markers. Ben won the sprint with Luke pulling along his side as they crossed the line. Will Bjergfelt came in 3rd completing the podium for the Senior race.
Luke said afterwards " I wanted to enter the woods first but Ben defend his position at the front well, and I didn't want it to end up crashing together, so I was quite happy to go for the sprint at the end, only I should of sprinted before we got in to the twisty bends as the straights after the twisty bits were to short for a proper sprint, I only realised that once we had started sprinting" .
1 Ben Sumner Beeline Cycles
2 Luke Gray Trek Cross Collective @1sec
3 Will Bjergfelt Cycle Premier/ Kovert
4 Michael Cotty Wheelbase Cannondale
5 Andrew Hargroves Hargroves Cycles
6 Paul Lloyd Rides on Air
7 Jamie Norfolk PedalOn
8 Chris Minter PedalOn
9 Ian Legg Primera Specialized
10 James Cotty Wheelbase Cannondale