Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Ster Van Zuid Limburg and The Second Round of The British National Series

Prologue Time Trial
Not much you can talk about in a time trial really. I managed to get second place out of 200 riders so I was pretty pleased although I wanted to win it again like it did last year, but hey I tried my best and at the end of the day I was in the green jersey.

Stage 1
My goal today was to keep an eye on the yellow jersey (American TT champion) and if I felt good try something at the end to get a stage win and bump myself up a place to the top stop on GC. The 128km stage was very fast (average speed 27mph) and dry but with crashes left right and centre. I stayed at the front of the front of the race to keep myself out of any danger. It was only when we got on to the finishing circuits that the racing really heated up. There was a break away of 10 riders or so and it got up to a 40 seconds gap on the main bunch. However, it was chased down by a collection of Belgians, so I could save myself for a little while longer. On the final lap I attacked up the climb with about 4 km to go and was clear for around 2 km but the Americans were all chasing so I got reeled in 2km from the finish. The stage finished in a mass bunch sprint won by a frenchman and the general classification was the same.

Stage 2
Another long stage 130km (the longest of them all) on a flat route. Similar story in the opening miles as yesterday -lots of crashes and fast fast tempo. Although today, I had a little bit of floor time thanks to the awful Belgian roads. One of the Avia Team riders got their wheel caught in a rut and brought down around 20 riders. I had to have a front wheel change but I was back with the group in no time, thanks to slip streaming the team car :). This was only the beginning of a bad BAD day though, because my handle bars were broken and when I when over a bump, pretty much the whole left side came clean off! So I went back to the car and got on my training bike and chased back on once again, only to have a puncture as soon as I again made contact with the bunch. When I eventually got myself back to the front, we were on the finishing circuits and the racing was full on. Moves were going non stop and one got a decent gap and stayed away to the finish, but my team was chasing with the Americans so the gap was only a few seconds which helped me out a lot as I was knackered. I lost my 2nd place and dropped down to 3rd which wasn't too bad. I was still only 3 seconds down from yellow and the final stage - going into the Ardennes - suited my riding style a lot more, so I was feeling confident.

Stage 3
The final stage of this tour was was by far the hardest one (122km). With 5 real climbs which shook it up a lot and with an early break away going with the white jersey in it. One of the Belgian teams began chasing straight away, so I dropped back and got my team up towards the front to help them out and the Americans did as well. But the gap grew and it was at 1:50 seconds at the beginning of the finishing circuits (50km to go). We kept chasing and the gap was steadily coming down every lap but they just stayed away (23 seconds) and I dropped GC once again from 3rd to 6th place. I'm still very happy with my ride though and would like to thank all of my team mates Josh, Paul, Dave, and Al for helping me out so much throughout the race :).

Sid Standard
My first proper win of the season. It was a 14 lap race near (80 miles long) near Leicester and pretty much a flat circuit with a few little drags in it. Once again it was a fast race as their were lots of attacks and breaks going away which needed chasing down. I got in my first move with George Atkins and Tim Kennaugh. We stayed away for around 3 laps midway through the race and as soon as we were caught another move went away. However, I was too tired to follow so I sat in for a little while. The main break away of the day went with 3 and a half laps to go with a few of the favourites in it which included two of my team mates -Dave Nichols and Al Murison. I bridged across with George Atkins which took us a lap and a half, as the break was going flat out. When we got there, we had a little break and then began working to try and stay away but as soon as the bell was rung for the last lap, everyone was looking at each other and attacks were going, so it was only a matter of time until the bunch caught us. I made my attack with 4km to go and made it stick. I had enough time to celebrate properly across the line as well.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Cadence Road Race

It was the first round of the Junior National series and I was hoping for a win. I was doing everything I could think of to make sure I was at the start of the race at 100%, so much so I focused a lot on of all the little things - like keeping well hydrated three to four days before the event. However, this distracted me from one of the most important things that you must do, before a three and half hour long race in temperatures from five to ten degrees. EAT! I didn't eat enough on the night before or for breakfast. So even though I wolfed down five maxim energy bars during the race, I still blew up spectacularly with twenty miles to go and just about rolled across the line at the top of a climb.

As far the race goes, there was a early break away which had a lead of 1:30 seconds and it hung around there for the duration of its time away. By the time of the hardest climb of the race (twenty miles from the finish) it had too many dangerous riders (good ones!) in it so I tried to bridge across. I was stuck in between the break and the rapidly chasing bunch trying desperately to get on the back of the break to have a rest and gain energy for the final climb. As it turned out, I wasn't getting anywere, so I decided to wait for the chasing bunch as we were only 30 seconds down on them in the closing stages of the race. That's when I hit the wall!

To look on the bright side of things. My tactics for the race would have worked if not for my lack of eating enough. The plan was to sit in and watch the main contenders and if a dangerous break went, go with it and just tap through and save energy. When the race was reaching the 18% gradient climb, I was going to attack and try and get a break-away going. I'm happy to say I did all of this which was good for me because I am known for racing with my legs not with my head amongst my competitors. So I can at least take one good thing out of this race after all!