Victor Berlemont Road Race 2015 Preview

Victor Berlemont Road Race 2015 Preview

 

Victor Berlemont Road Race 2015 Preview

 

Chris Lovibond

 

Preview of the 2015 Victor Berlemont Road Race

 

This Sunday (30th August) sees the second edition of the Victor Berlemont Road Race at its new venue – the Woodcote circuit in Oxfordshire.

 

At 100 miles it is one of the few British events which compare with continental races in distance and climbs (over 6500 feet), and the organiser of this reborn classic, Patrick Kavanagh, has the ambition to create a ‘Monument’. He is clearly on the way to success with this project.
 
Patrick’s strategy goes along the following lines. Although there are other races of seventy or eighty miles, there’s not much at this length which is typical what the European pros ride, so along with the distance we’ll throw in some Chiltern climbs, which should make the event an ideal warm up for the Tour of Britain starting the following Sunday.  Also, British single day races are often individual affairs, without much team work, so we’ll seek team entries.
 

Victor Berlemont Road Race 2015 Preview
Last year’s runner up, Harry Evans, detaching himself from the rest of the break on the main road climb towards Mongewell

 
This plan, built on the success of last year’s event, has seen a remarkable response with strong team entries from Pedal Heaven, Moda Anon, Catford Banks, Nuun Sigma Sport and Team Wiggins. There were 126 entries for the 80 places available.
 
Established riders to watch are: Wouter Sybrandy (Sigma), Matt Clarke (London Dynamo) winner of the recent Neil Gardner Memorial, Tom Neale (Catford) fifth in the event last year, and the evergreen Tony Gibb (Full Gas Racing). Among the promising younger entrants are Joe Harris, a local rider recently returned from two years with Cycle Team Tomacc in the hothouse of Belgian road racing, Alex Fanshaw (Zappi’s) who has been racing in Italy and nineteen year old Chris Lawless (Team Wiggins) winner of the GP of Wales earlier this month and who took sixth place behind Phillippe Gilbert in the Belgian semi classic, GP Cerami.
 
Last year’s winner, Ashley Cox (CC Luton) is not riding.
 
In the densely populated home counties, road race promotion is a harder task than it once was and a team of forty eight  has been put together to make the race happen. This includes a number of marshals from the Pedal Club, regional commissaries performing driving roles and team of accredited marshals who have been pivotal in supporting the safe passage of the race. A further layer of safety will be provided by five National Escort Group motorcycle outriders.
 
A welcome presence at the Victor Berlemont this year will be the British Cycling Central Region President, Stuart Benstead, who will present prizes to the top ten finishers. Everyone in the Central Region and beyond knows the huge contribution Stuart has made to the sport and he will be among many friends next Sunday.
 
HQ: Woodcote Village Hall. Start time: 11 am.
 
The Course: http://www.bikemap.net/en/route/2406260-victor-berlemont-memorial-road-race-2014/
 
We hope that if you’re not racing you’ll be able to come out as a spectator, but we must ask you all to remember that bike racing is always on trial at events like this and with the upsurge in the sport this is now more true than ever. The organisers have given undertakings to the Parish Council in Woodcote that car parking will not cause disruption in the village – please bear this in mind.

 
Background History of the event.
 
Victor and Gaston Berlement, pere et fils, were publicans and owners of the famous Soho pub The French House from 1914 to 1989. Although the pub is best known for its famous literary and artistic clientele (Dylan Thomas, Brendan Behan, Lucian Freud – the list is almost endless), both father and son were enthusiastic sports supporters. Victor was a French speaking Belgian, so it is not surprising that he had a passion for bike racing, and this was passed on to Gaston who was associated with the Southern Velo, and was a vice president of the BLRC.
 
The race itself was first run, by the Southern Velo, in 1951 and was won by Chris Hooper of the promoting club. It is not recorded whether there were any competitors from other clubs on that occasion, but it is certain that the race quickly became an important fixture and over the next four decades acquired a distinguished list of winners including: Brian Wilcher (Army CU) in 1956,  Dave Bedwell (various ‘independent’ teams) in 1960,’62 and ’64, John Froude (Festival RC) 1965, Peter Chisman (Raleigh) 1966, Les West (Holdsworth/Campagnolo) 1969,70 and 71, Gary Crewe (National RR Championship 1972) and Dave Rayner (East Bradford) 1992. The last promotion in this sequence was in 1996.
 

 

Simon Whiten

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