Nicholas Narraway wraps up Hincapie Spring Series on high note
Bermudian cyclists Nicholas Narraway and Kaden Hopkins returned action overseas, competing in the Hincapie Spring Series and Spanish respectively.
In his final road races for the Miller School of Albemarle Endurance team, Narraway kicked off the weekend in the River Falls Road Race in South Carolina, a pro category 55-mile course consisting of nine laps of a 5.2-mile loop through the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Battling not only the challenging course but also heavy rain, the riders approached the early stages of the race cautiously. As it progressed, the starting field of 81 began to drastically decrease because of riders suffering flat tyres or opting to pull out altogether owing to the conditions.
Holding his nerve, Narraway seized the initiative on the straights, choosing his moments to slowly move up through the pack to get himself in a good position to attack the final sprint.
It was a tactic that proved effective, with the 19-year-old among the chase to the line in which he secured a fifth-place finish from the 26 who managed to complete the race.
“The first few laps I was very cautious, the roads do not ride like they do in Bermuda when wet,” said Narraway, who was the only Miller School rider competing over the weekend. “At home roads get slick and you always have to watch the centre line because it will take you down. In this race there was still grip, but I was finding it hard to trust in that.”
On Sunday, Narraway returned for the series finale, the SCTAC (Donaldson) Road Race. Amid much improved conditions, 105 riders took to the start line of the 56-mile course, consisting of eight laps of a seven-mile loop with rolling hills and minimal traffic.
Racing solo once again, the Bermudian rider was forced to adapt his tactics, not being able to rely on his team-mates to support him in making, and also suppressing breakaways.
As a result, Narraway positioned himself in the leading pack in an attempt to conserve as much energy as possible for the final sprint. Just as in the previous day, his tactic was rewarded as he found himself perfectly positioned for the sprint to clinch an impressive fourth place from the 59 finishers.
“It was different racing without the support of team-mates,“ Narraway added. ”You come to rely on having them in the pack, you know how they ride and when and where to help each other.
“My overall strategy for the weekend was to try and be in the best possible position for the finish. It wasn't easy and I didn’t get it exactly spot-on, but I am happy with my results.
“Due to Covid-19 the road race schedule is very limited and this Hincapie Spring Series marks the end of my road racing as part of the Miller School of Albemarle Endurance Team.
“I have a lot to be thankful for over the past years, including the amazing and supportive coaches, my awesome team-mates, who I am sure I will be racing against in the future, and a diverse range of racing opportunities.”
Meanwhile, compatriot Hopkins continued his development as part of Equipo Essax competing in the second stage of the prestigious Spanish Cup in the city of Valladolid.
Taking on the 160.5-kilometre road race, the 21-year-old was handed another invaluable learning experience on a bigger stage, as he paid a price for not taking on replenishments at a critical stage.
As a result, Hopkins struggled in the latter stages, finishing the race in a time of 3hr 58min 24sec, almost eight minutes adrift of winner David Martín.
“I made the mistake of not going back to the car to feed when I needed to, which in such a long, hard race cost be big time in the end,” Hopkins told The Royal Gazette.
“The whole day I felt I was where I needed to be and was comfortable on all the climbs and just lacked the legs in the last 20km.
“I’m learning but slowly, just trusting the process and getting comfortable with everything in races here. It was another hard race but I’m feeling more comfortable every week.”