Durant took victory by 57 seconds in round one of the Friction and Hydraulic Services Shropshire Championship Points Series as Wrekinsport CC ran their testing 18-miler from Worfield.
A chilly but almost still afternoon saw riders make the best of the lull in the winter gales to take on the challenge of Bridgnorth’s fearsome Hermitage climb, with Durant in full flow on the three-quarter-mile, 15 per cent gradient, making up time over the opposition.
He stopped the watch on 41 minutes 28 seconds to see off a twin challenge from reigning Friction Series champion Tim Beardmore and a surprise performance from Ludlow CC’s Robbie Disney, tying for the runner-up spot in 42.25.
Durant said: “A great first event of the season, despite the chilly weather.
“It took until The Hermitage for me to warm up and get my head in the game, and the last part of the course was much better.”
Beardmore set out a good initial defence of his title, not only taking overall runner-up spot, but top spot in the veterans series too, ahead of Mid Shropshire Wheelers’ Paul Duncan.
However, Beardmore revealed that he is behind with his training regime after an accident kept him off a bike for a while.
“Great to be racing again on one of my favourite courses,” he said. “My form is not quite where I was hoping for the start of the season due to a crash at the start of the year and some time off the bike.”
Disney’s surprise tie with Beardmore was thanks to a first race with tri-bars fitted, for which he immediately saw dividends.
There is no greater aero benefit than tri-bars, typically saving 45 seconds over a 10-mile course, and Disney made the most of ducking low and presenting the minimum resistance to scythe through the air to put up a great challenge.
He said: “It went well, I got some good rest in leading up to the race and felt strong.
“I changed my handlebars over from last season so I could put tri-bars on. This was my first race with them so my position wasn’t great, I might have been in with a shot of first place if I had that sorted, but I can’t complain coming joint second with Tim as he’s a strong time triallist.”
In the women’s race, it was a three-way battle among Wrekinsport clubmates, with a win by a margin of 7.56 for Beth Till, stopping the watch on 53:29 to beat her own women’s course record by 10 seconds.
“Great to be back racing again,” she said. “I’m hoping to improve on my speed this year after focusing on Ironman training last year.”
Taking Wrekinsport’s Chris Edwards Trophy for the first time, 16-year-old Ben Southgate earned a comfortable victory of exactly three minutes.
Southgate, who crossed the finish line in 45.22 to take fifth spot overall, said: “Really happy with my results, hoping the winter training is paying off.”
Meanwhile, Wrekinsport opened a good defence of the Top Club Award, taking 145 points – a margin of 70 over Mid Shropshire Wheelers.