Brooks leaves best to last to claim vets title

Simon Brookes showed plenty of determination to clinch victory
Simon Brookes showed plenty of determination to clinch victory
Mike Williams on his way to second place in the veteran 50 race last month. Picture: Neil Marshall (171322-123)

Wheelers prepare for Wessex war

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Simon Brooks admitted he was shocked but pleased after storming to national cycling glory.

The 45-year-old landed the National Veterans Road Racing Championships with a gutsy performance at Wing near Leighton Buzzard.

Brooks saw off two rivals in a frantic sprint finish to claim victory.

But while the Waterlooville rider had targeted the 70-mile event for eight months with some intense work on the bike, he wasn’t prepared for an impromptu road block set up by a disgruntled local resident which almost cost him his moment of glory.

Brooks explained: ‘There was an idiot local who was ranting at everyone at the finish line, shouting all kinds of nonsense about cyclists. He obviously didn’t like the race being held.

‘I’ve never been in a race that someone has tried to sabotage like that before – he blocked the road with his car with about eight or 10 miles to go.

‘I’ve had dogs running in the middle of the pack or animals stepping out in front of me, but never a guy blocking the road with a car before.

‘As it happened, it took a while to realise what was going on. The lead car was caught up with three or four cars ahead of him.

‘I went to the left, the other two riders went to the right, and as I went to squeeze past the lead vehicle who was trying to get round this idiot, he swerved to the left. I slammed on the brakes but still caught the wing mirror.

‘It wasn’t ideal and it meant the other two riders got away from me and I lost a lot of time.

‘But I just stayed focused on doing whatever I could. I didn’t panic.

‘I thought I could get back on terms again.’

Brooks, who has been riding for 30 years and rides for VC St Raphael/Hewitt Cycles, then set about chasing down his two rivals – having already seen off the rest of the 50-strong field.

And after a tough two-mile slog, he was back in the hunt with enough energy to claim victory on an exciting final push for the line.

‘Normally, I wouldn’t win a sprint finish – it’s one of the weakest parts of my cycling,’ said Brooks.

‘I’ve got a terrible sprint but, with about 500m to go, the leader didn’t want to lead out the sprint.

‘I took the lead on a sweeping turn and opened it up.

‘To my disbelief, nobody came past me.

‘It was a real shock and pleasure to get over the line first, and I was a three or four feet clear from my back wheel, which is decisive in sprinting.’

Brooks has achieved his goals for the year but admits he faces a tough task to defend his title next year.

He said: ‘The guy who was expected to win at Wing was banging his handlebars with frustration at the end when he ended up in fourth.

‘He won it last year and I’m sure he will be keen to win it back next year.’