Report/Result: Victor Berlemont Trophy RR

On one of the hottest days of summer, Rupert Graham proved to be the strongest of the five heat resistant resistant supermen remaining in the near race long break to win the 2019 Victor Berlemont Trophy RR

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Report/Result: Victor Berlemont Trophy RR

From Chris Lovibond

What a difference a year makes! In 2018 the problem was rain and cold, the 2019 edition had to endure one of the hottest days of a hot summer.

Rupert Graham (Spirit Tifosi) proved to be the strongest of the five heat resistant supermen remaining in the near race long break; he crossed the line with a margin of 14 seconds over second placed Will Scott (Flamme Rouge) and 25 seconds over the other three survivors – Shaun Cook (Nopinz Synec), Andrew Turner (Swiftcarbon Pro Cycling) and Julian Roche (Otley CC). Graham made his move a mile before the finish, taking Scott with him.

This break had started on the first lap and originally consisted of eight riders: Roche, Turner and Cook, plus Matt Clarke (Wheelbase Cabtech Castelli), Eliot Ward (BC Private Member), Charles Walker (Spirit Tifosi) and Rhys Howells (Richardsons Trek). Third placed Shaun Cook commented that much of the fast pace of the break in the first half of the race came from Andy Turner, and this caused them to be reduced to three riders before Graham and Scott joined, seeming fresher than those remaining from the original break. This pair had left the main bunch before the fourth ascent of Catsbrain Hill and joined the leaders on the sixth lap.

Watching the race from behind the bunch, it was clear that the heat was taking a severe toll as rider after rider dropped off the back and abandoned. Because of roadworks in Goring this year’s race used a shorter version of the circuit, with an extra lap added to retain the same distance, which cut out the tough 10% gradient of Flint Hill and substituted the longer climb (Catsbrain Hill) from South Stoke to Woodcote. At first sight this looked to be an easier course but, whatever the reason, it certainly seemed that the 2019 race was harder than its predecessors; from eighty starters only twenty were classified as finishers.

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Perhaps the crucial move came when Graham and Scott left the peloton to bridge across to the break. Both riders agreed that they had not really attacked: to quote Will Scott – “I just sort of fell off the front”. Rupert Graham, when asked how it was that the front group was able to push on at speed while the main bunch stalled and fractured, said “In a break it’s easier to ride hard because there’s more point to it – you may win!” Rupert may have a special affinity for this event – he took the third place in it last year.

At the HQ after the finish the master of ceremonies was the irrepressible Doug Collins, who introduced the winner of the 1955 Victor Berlemont, Terry O’Brien, to present the victor with his prizes. These included the trophy itself, which is engraved with the names of the previous winners, a list which includes most of the significant names in British road racing over the past sixty years.

This race exists only because of a great deal of hard work by the organiser, Patrick Kavanagh and through the enthusiasm of its mentor, Doug Collins. A great many people gave their time to make this race happen, and it’s worth mentioning that among the unpaid volunteers were a large number of Pedal Club members.


173 Kilometres (107 Miles) of the Woodcote circuit (as modified)

1. Rupert Graham (Spirit Tifosi RT) 4 hours 13 minutes.
2. W. Scott (Flamme Rouge CT)
3. S. Cook (Nopinz Symec RT)
4. A. Turner SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling)
5. J. Roche (Otley CC)
6. L. Ryan (Richardsons Trek)
7. C. Quarterman (Zappi RT)
8. R. Gildea (Didcot Phoenix CC)
9. F. Crockett (Wheelbase Cabtech Castelli )
10. D. McDermott (BC private member)
11. G. Fitzek (Zero BC)
12. G. Clarke (Spirit Tifosi RT)
13. J. Hale (WORX Factory Racing)
14. T. Townsend (High Wycombe CC)
15. C. McNamara (Nuun-Sigma Sports London RT)
16. K. Savage (Cycling Sheffield Giant)
17. J. Paxman (Team LDN)
18. P. Merritt (TBW23 Stuart Hall Gett Taxi)
19. J. Laverick (Madison Genesis)
20. H. Knight (Zero BC)



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