The traditional start of the ERRL season brings with it one of the most prestigious 2nd cat races of the year, and the 2017 edition of the Crest CC road race certainly lived up to its classic reputation. Starting in cold, wet and blustery conditions, eight ascents of the climb from Littlebury faced the full field of 60 starting riders. Last year’s ERRL champions Strada Sport set their stall out early, placing two riders up on the road on the first lap, before adding a third on lap two as the six man break of the day was formed. The men in green were represented by last year’s winner Thomas Power, Morris Bacon, and Zak Coleman, who were joined by Mike Auger (API), Harley Matthews (DAP) and Tom Elwood (CC London). Building quickly to a lead of 1.45, the bunch behind had already fractured by the third lap, and by half distance only 25 riders remained. The chasing in the second group on the road was being driven by Colin Ward (Essex Roads CC), but the harshness of the conditions, with Flandrian-esque winds buffeting the riders, was making it impossible to erode the breakaway’s lead. As the race entered its final third, punctures forced Auger and Elwood back to the chasing group, before Coleman also fell back with two laps remaining. On the penultimate lap, with the chasing group around four minutes behind, it was left to Power to stake his claim at a repeat victory, and the remaining trio fractured to leave them with a lap of solo pain to hold on to their podium places. The earlier work done did provide a cushion for the weary trio, and resulting back to back victories for Power, who christened the achievement with a bike-above-the-head MTB style winning celebration. Bacon and Matthews held on for a deserved 2nd and 3rd, and a last lap escape from James O’Connell (Regents Park Rouleurs) secured 4th place. In the sprint for the remaining places, Andrew Holmes (VC Revolution) took 5th ahead of Joshua Aiken (Pedal Power Ipswich) and breakaway puncture victim Auger. VC Baracchi’s Liam Gentry and Mark Richards took 8th and 9th, with Coleman rounding out the top ten and a good day’s work for Strada Sport, picking up where they left off last year. The severity of the day meant all riders who made it the full distance placed in the points and gained some valid kudos and experience for the season ahead.