Racing Through June

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Posted on Monday, July 30, 2018 

Photo : British Cycling Photographers

June was a very busy month for me racing in a big block of National series races over 3 weekends before travelling out to race Acht Van Bladel in Holland for an international 3-day stage race as a guest rider for HMT cycling team. In the National series I raced the Junior Cicle classic in Rutland, Spokes 2-day stage race in Scotland & the Monmouthshire Junior Grand Prix in Wales.

The Cicle Classic is pretty flat but has some dirt roads and off-road sections thrown in which make the race very interesting.  The Spokes 2-day is raced on some very hilly terrain with a summit finish on the first stage, and the Monmouthshire Jr Grand Prix has some tight and twisty roads with a lot of climbing.  These races had some mixed results for me but unfortunately, I didn’t come away from any of them with a placing to shout about. The legs felt good however and am feeling as though I am on good form with some of the biggest races of my season coming up in July and in to early August.

At the Junior Cicle classic in early June, I felt as though I had very good legs throughout the day, but very frustratingly was too far back going in to a key off road sector which resulted in me missing the winning breakaway of the day. I chased hard for the most part of the race and with the help of a few others, we managed to bring the gap down to 30 seconds giving us a chance to bring them back. However, as we entered the finishing circuit the break began to attack each other, and the gap went out again at which point I stopped chasing and accepted that the break was not coming back and I rolled in in the very small main group after what was a very hard race.  I was left feeling frustrated afterwards as I felt as though I was having a good day, but foolishly missed the break meaning I came away with no major result. Thankfully, I didn’t puncture though on a race which is often defined by punctures as I ran lower pressures on tubeless tyres on this day to give myself the best chance on the off-road sectors. 

Just a week later myself and the rest of Giant Halifax travelled the long journey up to St Andrews in Scotland to race the Spokes Jr 2-day stage race. The first day was a hilly race with a short but steep summit finish which I thought would suit me at the end of a hard days racing. It wasn’t to be on that day unfortunately as I simply didn’t have the legs on the day and was feeling laboured and fatigued all day which resulted in me finishing a disappointing 31st, well off the pace of where I would have liked to have been. However, I raced the 2nd day much better and felt much stronger managing to finish 17th on the stage. Once again it was no real result to shout about but I had tried on numerous occasions throughout the day to try and get away in search of the stage win but it was not to be as I never managed to force a serious breakaway. A disappointing weekend for me but some good performances for the team and a better performance from me on the 2nd day giving me a bit if a morale boost.

A couple weeks later it was another change of scenery down in Wales for the Monmouthshire Jr GP, a race I had targeted and thought I could perform well in. I knew that an early break had stuck last year and saw an opportunity fairly early on to get in to a strong working break, so I jumped across to it. The group was 4 men strong but once we entered the finishing circuit with a very steep hill, it whittled down to 3. We pushed hard especially on the descents to try and gain time on the larger peloton but after 60km away we were caught. I still felt as though I had decent legs but after being in the break for so long I could not stay with the key attacks that went with a lap to go and so suffered round managing to finish a reasonable 21st at the finish. The result was not what I wanted or felt I deserved after a long and hard day in the breakaway but never the less I was pleased with my strong ride in the break which hopefully bodes well for the big races coming up in July and August. It was also a big improvement from my previous races also, so overall, I was pleased with my performance at this race.

My final race in June was a 3-day international stage race in Holland called Acht Van Bladel, which consisted of 3 long and flat stages of racing with cross winds and cobbles, and a short individual time trial also to finish off the weekend. I rode in this race as a guest for the British based HMT cycling team and had an absolutely brilliant time. Although my performances were mixed, I learnt a huge amount from this race which I then implemented to good effect in the Tour of the Basque country in Spain, which I then went on to the next weekend from this race. I also showed some good legs at times in some challenging conditions in the heat and strong winds so was pleased mostly with my riding. On the first day, we messed up a little as a team letting a break of 15 go which was never brought back meaning I just rolled in in the bunch. The next day went better however as although I was not in the days winning break, I was in the main breakaway of the day attacking with 60 or so km to go.  We were caught as we entered the finishing circuit with around 30km to go and I was a little upset the break didn’t stick.  The group had swelled to 10 riders and once that happened the rhythm went, and it wasn’t as smooth as with the original 3 riders where our gap grew to its peak of 50 seconds. The winning break then countered this which thankfully, we had a rider in. I rolled in in the bunch but was pleased with my performance as I took a risk which I believe could have easily paid off had the situation been right. On the final day I was tired from my hard day previous so was suffering on the stage. I was still riding well and always at the front but made the wrong decision to not jump across to a break in the early part of the race as I didn’t want to get in an early break again. This break was strong however and stayed away until a reasonable sized group split off the front of the peloton in a section of cross wind cobbles.  This was one of the only points of the race when I was riding too far back meaning I missed the key split frustratingly. My legs got better as the race went on and I had started to feel good again so was frustrated I wasn’t in the group as I thought I was good enough to be in it. I did however manage to jump off the front of the 2nd peloton in a small working group and bring down the gap of 3mins to just 1min 20 seconds to limit my losses which helped me feel slightly better. After this stage I was laying in a top 30 position overall but very annoyingly punctured on the first corner of the time trial, and as I didn’t have the team car behind me, I had to wait minutes for a wheel, at which point once I got going again, I found out my derailleur wouldn’t go in to my 14 tooth and I was stuck on under 16 gears. Spinning out, I couldn’t put the power down and finished very far down on the stage which also frustratingly took out my GC position. As I said though I learnt a huge amount from this race and was pleased with the progress I made afterwards so was overall a successful experience.

Thanks very much as always to everyone who helped out this month, my parents, everyone at Giant Halifax, Pedal Potential, Trainsharp and also Mark Barry from HMT cycling team who gave me the great opportunity to race in one of the biggest races on the calendar. Up next for me in July is the Junior Tour of the Basque country in early July, The National championships, The Tour of upper Austria which will be my first UCI 2.1 race, and finally the Vuelta a Pamplona in early August.

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