First Racing Block of the Season


Monday, April 30, 2018

First Racing Block of the season

With the first block of the season over I thought I’d write a new blog before starting the next block of training and racing which leads in to the end of Spring and start of Summer.

  My first race of the season, and first race as a Junior, was the UCI 1.1 race Kuurne Brussels Kuurne in Belgium, which was a huge race to start my season off with. I was unsure what to expect and was very nervous with it being my first race in a new and much harder category. The conditions at Kuurne were freezing with sub zero temperatures with the wind chill, but thankfully it was dry and sunny also. I was riding well and felt pretty strong, being in the front group over the first few climbs of the day, notably the Wolvenberg which was a very short sharp climb with a short and flat cobbled sector over the top. Unfortunately, I was dropped from this front group over the top of the days big challenge the Kwaremont and was in a chasing group as although the legs felt good, I was far too far back in the bunch going in to it as I was focussing too much on saving energy than racing in to the bottom of it. I went really hard trying to bridge back on to the main group as finishing in that group was my aim at the start of the day but in doing so I bonked as I didn’t quite fuel correctly during this time resulting in me slowly slipping further down the field to finish a slightly disappointing 66th. A lot of lessons were learnt that day however about eating and fuelling during the race and more so just having confidence in myself as I felt good but just made too many mistakes. The race in general was a fantastic experience all in all though and I was very grateful to be able to go to such a huge race to start my season off also. A big thanks to all the support at Giant Halifax and Trainsharp also for getting all of us there, I’m looking forward to hopefully returning next year!

    Two weeks later me and a slightly depleted team, with Josh injured and Max riding for GB, were out in Belgium again racing the Danilith Nokere Koerse race, another UCI 1.1 race. I really wanted to try and improve on my result at Kuurne here as I thought I was capable of that, but some bad luck hit me this time as I had a get down leading in to the first flat cobbled sector of the day early in the race. I got back up but had a problem with my brakes because of the crash so lost a huge amount of time and was chasing in the convoy trying to get to the main group for around an hour. I did eventually get back in to the main group thankfully, but it was just before another cobbled sector and as I was so spent I went out of the back again, this time accompanied with another 20 riders or so. We were working to try and get back to the group but as we were on the finishing circuit by this time the broom waggon was riding very close to the back of the bunch so we were pulled out and I was down as a DNF. I was disappointed to say the least as once again my legs felt good as I was able to get back in to the bunch after a long chase in the convoy but then just couldn’t hold it. Was a good day for the team however as Jenson and Tom finished well with Tom gaining a top 15 placing and also guest rider Joe and Jenson again doing well in the flat kermesse race we all did the day after.

  After a couple big races in Belgium it was time for some British racing with the first round of the National Junior Road series: Cadence Road Race in Wales. This was a rolling race with one hard steep finishing climb every lap. I was nervous going in to this as I thought I could get a good result which would be my first of the year. Therefore, I was very happy to come away with 2nd on the day after a long day out in the break. A breakaway of 2 riders went early on the 2nd lap and got up to a gap of around about a minute. My team mate Josh had a little dig off the front a lap later before being caught, after which the bunch slowed massively. I decided the bunch didn’t have enough energy and the break was getting too far up the road so put in an attack just as the race turned on to the rolling country lane part of the course. I bridged to one rider up the road before we were caught by two other chasers which started working well together. We bridged to the leaders quite quickly and then us as a unit of 6 begun to pull away from the group, gaining an advantage of around four minutes. Our front group was whittled down going up the finishing climb before then the eventual winner rode away from us on the back, rolling half of the course. We tried to chase and bridge, but he was just too strong to be completely honest. What was left of our group started attacking and messing around on the final lap which resulted in us nearly being caught by a 2nd breakaway group of 6 that had formed but we managed to just stay away. I knew I had to go late with the finishing climb being so steep and was able to do that as other riders panicked going early as we were nearly caught by the 2nd group. I was able to go on the hill with around 100 metres to go and hold on to take 2nd. I was very happy with this and it gave me a lot of confidence going in to the next races.

    The week after was a local race in Rotherham at the Danum trophy road race. This was my first elite race and was certainly a hard one with it being ne of the best fields in years to attend. I finished 20th in the end which may not sound great, but I was very happy after the crosswinds split the race to shreds on the rolling course. A big split occurred around half way through but I missed it frustratingly and was left in the main group with not many working. Me and one other rider however managed to get away before being joined by 2 more who worked really well in a chaingang to bridge across the gap of 1 minute to get back in to the front group. Once I was in the front group the race split again with me being in the back group of it, but I managed to hold on for 20th with lots of riders getting dropped in the final laps. Was a great race and very tough also.

   The final race of this first block of the season was the Junior Tour of the Mendips in the Mendip hills near Bristol. I was hoping to do well here especially on the hilly course but didn’t have a very good weekend and was disappointingly unable to build on my 2nd at Cadence a couple weeks before as after an ok prologue I started to cough badly and it got worse over the weekend meaning I felt awful during the racing and was unable to get the result I wanted. The Saturday morning started with a prologue TT of around 6mins in length where I finished 33rd. The result wasn’t great but was a big improvement from last years TTing so there were some positives to be taken from the weekend. Next up was a rolling stage where I rolled in in the bunch after I tried and failed to get away from the bunch not having good enough legs. Sunday came with the hilly stage where I really wanted a result but even though I tried to maintain positive and in a good state before the race, once the racing started I didn’t feel well so could only manage 36th on the stage which was upsetting. Hopefully I can now recover and build on the form that has been shown to get some more results later in the year! The Mendips was still a great weekend out for the team however with Jenson getting some good results and some strong riding from Josh being in the break all day on stage 3.

   A big thank you to everyone at Giant Halifax, Trainsharp and Pedal Potential for all the support they have given so far this season and to my mum and dad also for everything as always. Looking forward to the rest of the racing that is to come now!