Corries Cartlidge cruises to Road race win

James Cartlidge topped off a fine team performance by Plymouth Corinthians to take his maiden road race win at the 52 mile Tour of Witheridge moor held near Tiverton today. With the road racing calendar ticking down towards the end of the season, James Cartlidge, Stephen Hodge, Owain Gibby and Mike Rogers of Plymouth Corinthian Cycle Club lined up for one last effort at the challenging event hosted by Exeter Wheelers. The course was based on a gruelling 26 mile loop through Mid-Devon and featured in excess of 2000 feet of climbing per lap. The ascents began immediately as the field of 60 riders rolled out of the pretty town of Witheridge. As the flag dropped Dan Strong (Tavistock Wheelers), Cartlidge and Corries ‘super-domestique’ Steve Hodge set a brutal pace and some riders lost contact. With kamikaze speeds on the descents and a tenacious tempo being tapped out on every climb, invariably by Stephen Hodge, strong riders were falling away throughout the first undulating lap. As a result, by only mile 15, where the course offers its first respite, the front group had reduced to around 40. With every fast twisty descent, a punchy incline followed and Corries riders Cartlidge, Gibby and Hodge were always happy to show their distinctive red, white and blue colours towards the front… but jumping clear was proving hard with the pace constantly averaging around a 25mph. Early on the second lap, top climber Gibby, and Cartlidge slipping into a 7 man move but with other riders not collaborating their freedom was short lived. A period of soft attacks and short sharp efforts followed and George Kimber (Cyclo-Sport Dynamo) stole 20 metres on the far side of the circuit to “spice things up”. The gutsy break was eventually caught by the Corries driven peloton shortly before the fast rolling section of road to Witheridge. With the final miles flashing by, Hodge attacked unselfishly, leaving Cartlidge sat in prime spot as the energy sapping power climb to the line began. Hot on his tail however were top South West team, Mid Devon CC and also a flying Mark Puddicombe (Charterbank Potburys) who’d blasted his way through from last man to 2nd in one bold manoeuvre. With shouts of encouragement from the boisterous crowd around the finish James Cartlidge sprinted over the top of the climb to go one better than his previous best and seal a very well deserved win. Gibby also had his best road result with strong sixth. Cartlidge will now turn his attention to the local hill climb circuit and with his current form must be highly fancied at the Jennycliff event in early October.