What a race, what a trip. We headed up early on Saturday for the 8 hour drive to Glasgow, full of quiet optimism. The reason? We knew after his 2nd place at Milnthorpe a fortnight ago, Gosse had the bit between his teeth and had spent the two weeks training (really) hard for this. We had Dan of Breakaway Digital in tow for photography (all shots included are by him), as well as Matt of Mason Cycles (one of the finest mechanics in the game) - massive thanks to both of those guys for their time & serious morale-boosting abilities.
In a recent video on Gosse's life balancing studies & pro riding, made by Voxweb (University of Radbound's independent magazine/publication), he signed off by saying he was "the happiest man in the world". We quoted him on this, challenging that around 2 hours before the race, you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who would define Gosse as even remotely chirpy. True to form, within a few hours of the race start, the mood was a little off....
Why! We hear you cry.... well... Warranty Manager & CX nut Dan Clark had leant Gosse his road wheels (with tyres), so that Gosse could warm up on the rollers without having to use any of his tubulars. The only issue was that the rear had a slow puncture which was becoming less and less slow. We didn't have any 28c inner tubes, and so Gosse had to stop pedalling on the rollers every time the wheel went flat so that we could quickly ram some air in it. At first every 4 or 5 minutes, then every 2, then every minute, until it got to about 30 second stints and we collectively gave up. This compounded the fact that Gosse had already declared his legs as "not good" that day. Once every race weekend, Gosse will at some stage do his routine of "why do I do this racing man? I wish I didn't have to. Can we go home?" - we've become somewhat used to it, but with the warm-up failure & less-than-ideal self assessment of how his race was going to go, there was a lot of silence between us as we set up his tyres to the desired pressure and gingerly pointed him in the direction of the start line.
Ollie headed over to the start line with Gosse, whilst Matt got the spare bike in position in the pits. Gosse's mood seemed to instantly lift upon being gridded. Riders were all smiles, and Ollie managed to get a few laughs out of the recently fairly moody racer. "TWO MINUTES TO GO!" - Gosse drank a pre-race mix said to wake up the muscles and then downed what was left of his isotonic drink. Another quip from Ollie, another laugh from Gosse. The zip-off leggings are undone. "ONE MINUTE TO GO!" - The jacket comes off. All riders' helpers gather clothing & bottles from the racers, before quickly getting out of the way. Laughter & joviality gives way to an eery silence. It's deafening.
The whistle goes, and 60+ riders are travelling at 40-50kmh within metres. The sprint is carnage. Yelling, screaming, phones in the air. Ollie ran back to meet Matt at the pits and set down Gosse's clothing, before both watching on for the full hour during which not a single rider from the top 5 changed a bike even once. This, paired with the fact the course was incredibly open, meant that the racers could be seen for the vast majority of the lap. A solid hour of nail-biting & using phones to constantly measure time gaps ensued. Gosse's plan was to sit in the wheels early, for some protection from the blustery winds that blew cross-head across the main flat plain of the circuit. These same winds almost instantly tore the race to pieces, so there wasn't much in the way of hiding from the outset. So much for tactics.
Four riders quickly put 45 seconds into the rest of the field. The selection had been made. Initially, it was two pairs, with Gosse leading the race alongside Toby Barnes (a very promising U23 rider indeed). A second pair, including Ian Field, were just 5 seconds behind. Gosse went clear just as Ian attacked, and for a short while the front 3 riders raced alone, separated by just a few seconds. As Field caught Barnes and the two began to race one another, Gosse pulled away, extending his lead to just under 30 seconds with around 20 minutes to go. Field dug deep and attacked Barnes, and proceeded to go on the march. The gap came down as low as 16 seconds, but it was clear Field had run out of matches to burn and the gap stabilised.
We're unbelievably stoked for Gosse, finally winning his first EVER race whilst wearing #1. All the sweeter that we could be there to help him do it. After exchanging pleasantries with the Mayor of Irvine, we hit the road back south (via a now-traditional victory Nando's dinner) and arrived back in Brighton at around 2am. That's how you fill a weekend!
Here's what the man of the moment had to say:
"There was a whistle and everybody started cycling as fast as they could. After 50 minutes there was a bell and then I crossed the finish line before anyone else, so I won"
(For something more sincere, try www.gossevandermeer.com/gosse-wins-in-irvine)
See you at the next round, folks!
Gosse's Wheel Choice