Melton cyclist Bex Rimmington was left stunned after producing a superb time trial ride at the Women’s British Road Championships.
In a high class field which included multiple Paralympic gold medallist Dame Sarah Storey, the 32-year-old couldn’t believe her ears when she crossed the finish line at Cadwell Park in fifth place.
With some leading British riders still to complete the 21-mile course, Bex expected to drop down the rankings, but was delighted with an excellent 11th place finish.
She said: “We entered back into the circuit and I made a desperate attempt to sprint for the line.
“I had no idea what the announcer said; I thought maybe ‘35th’? I gathered myself and headed back up to the warm-up area where everyone was congratulating my ride.
“I came in at that moment placing fifth, but I knew there were still big names out on the course.
“I was a little bit shocked.”
After completing three-quarters of the motorsport circuit, the riders headed out for two laps of a hilly and testing road circuit before returning to the track. Bex stopped the clock in 56min 56secs.
“I was pretty pleased with my race,” she added.
“I know where a lot of improvements can be made and look forward to working on these for my next outing on the TT bike.”
There was little time for recovery as Bex faced the toughest challenge of the weekend – the British Road Race Championships set on a punishing course in and around Lincoln.
Riders faced the twists and technical lanes of a 28-mile route before heading back into the city for five laps of an eight-mile circuit which included the infamous steep cobbled climb of Michaelgate, up towards the cathedral.
She said: “The race was full-on from the gun. It was quite apparent everyone wanted a small group heading into the cobbled climb.”
As the field whittled down, Bex kept herself with the front runners as the race reached Lincoln, but the lead group was too big for the narrow cobbled section and led to a crash.
Each lap further riders lost contact with the lead group, but Bex’s race was far from done.
“A group of 15 or so riders got away then our group of 20 brought it back,” she added.
“Then another went and got brought back - it was constant cat and mouse.”
Eventual winner, and Olympic silver medallist, Lizzie Armistead made her winning solo break on the penultimate lap, but Bex’s group caught the lead group at the bottom of the final climb.
The Melton rider finally ran out of steam and eventually crossed the line 31st, but only a minute behind the runner-up in 2hr 54min 17secs.
She said: “The last time up the hill I gave it my all, but the tank seemed to be empty.
“This was by far the hardest race I’ve ever done, but it was absolutely fantastic.”
Bex, who lies 20th in British Cycling’s National Women’s Road Series, next heads to the Czech Republic for four-stage race, the Tour de Feminin.