Return to racing 'exceeds expectations' for Guernsey Velo Club

Guernsey Velo Club's first event since the island went into lockdown "exceeded expectations", according to its president.

The GVC held two time trials across Saturday and Sunday, becoming the first club in the British Isles to return to racing.

"It was a really good turnout, very, very competitive, and there were some cracking times all the way down the field", said Mark Smith.

"Couple of PBs from people, couple of people close to records, so it exceeded expectations I think".

Guernsey has not had a new confirmed case of Covid-19 for 33 consecutive days and saw its number of known active cases drop to zero last week.

There was a limit of 30 riders on each day of racing with start times staggered further than usual to meet the island's current social distancing and hygiene guidelines.

"There were quite a lot of people interested in what we were doing and how we were doing - it was a good experiment if you like", said Smith about national interest in the event.

Seb Tremlett, 25, took top spot overall, finishing the 10-mile distance on Guernsey's west coast just seven seconds short of his own course record.

Time trial specialist Seb Tremlett came within a few seconds of breaking his own course record to take top spot overall. Credit: ITV Channel TV

"It was great, you do all this training and you need to capitalise on it at some point so it's just good to be back on the roads", the time trial specialist told ITV News.

"For the club members, this is what they're passionate about. There's a nice social aspect to suffering with other people, socially-distanced obviously".

Tremlett's time of 20:02 put him just ahead of Marc Cox, with Trinity Racing professional Sam Culverwell third and Karina Bowie the top woman.

"It's Island Games in 2021, so a lot of the season for a lot of the top-level riders was just about qualifying", he said.

"My only other target is the British national championships, and no-one knows if that's going ahead - it might do in September or October, or it might just be cancelled".

The club is repeating the format this weekend, with plans underway for a mountain bike time trial under the same conditions next week.

"We're not planning more than a week ahead at the moment, purely because it changes so quickly and everybody really wants to get back to proper road racing", said Smith.

"Saturday is full already and there's four places left for Sunday, so the demand is there, everybody's happy to be racing again and really appreciative that we can actually race".

The only change could come to the way riders start, which it is hoped could lead to some even faster times next time out.

"We are toying with the idea of putting a cone in place and then it will be disinfected between each rider, sprayed with sanitiser, so they've got something to hold on to".