First junior national of 2016-3rd GC, please enjoy my blog and hear what I have to say about the race.
On the 10th and 11th of April I participated in my first junior national of 2016. My first thoughts were that the flat stage would be easier in comparison with all of the Belgium UCI’s I had been doing as we have to stay on the left side of the road, so using the gutter isn’t always possible, the hilly stage I knew could contain some bigger efforts!
Stage 1- A steady (mostly neutralized) climb with some crosswinds, cold conditions and flat/rolling terrain.
Stage 2- 3 climbs, one of 10 minutes, the second steep and 6 minutes, the third steep until 6-7% in the last 30 seconds to the line. Also contained a rolling stretch to the first climb and part of the top triangle circuit twice before descending off a different road.
Stage 1-started off with a 10 minute or so climb that ended up being neutralized for the first 5 minutes therefore the climb made little difference to the race, the rest was a rolling circuit that headed towards the top of cheddar before heading back round in a triangle. Being windy and having 2 sharp turns that meant you had to kick out of the corner meant I stayed at or on the front around them, especially on the sharp turn near cheddar being in a tailwind I kicked out of there around 3 times or so, meaning people at the very back had lots of work to do. The racing was fairly simple, the break went early and stayed out for over and hour 20, around 10 of us did through and off, some doing more than others and that caught the break after 25 mins of work. with 1.5 laps to go on the drag in the tailwind people were tiring and I could clearly see that, so as Charlie Quaterman drifted off the front to form a second group I joined him, there was already 7 or 8 up the road so we all worked well together and got across within 1/2 a lap. With the cold weather and mix of rain and sleet (that made it worse) many riders with already tired legs started to drop whilst I was in the chasing group. 1 lap to go and we had reached the first group and I went straight to the front to make sure the pace didn’t drop, everyone carried on doing strong turns as the bunch of now 40 were only 20 seconds back, eventually we grew the gap to 59 seconds on the final lap and finished with that time gap, with another group coming in 29 seconds behind us also! I was 7th this stage and knowing my sprint isn’t the best I waited for the big effort to come the next day as we had 3 big climbs.
Stage 2- Thinking that all I had to do was mark 2 or 3 of the riders I knew were a threat and stopping them getting up the road was the days job…I was very wrong. With only 3 riders left in the break at the end of the day after getting away at around 30 mins into the race I thought the catch was still not possible, with new teams this season and a few riders marked out I wasn’t the only rider to make the mistake of letting the break get so far up the road…my initial thoughts were, the gap shouldn’t rise over a minute, and even if it got to a minute we, or I, could smash it up the climb and have them within a few feet, after hearing they were over 3 minutes up the road and having only 16 fast miles to go the chase to them would be crazy. Half of our group had found the climb very hard and wanted to save themselves for the final climb, the rest of us did do turns but it just wasn’t working, people were putting in soft turns and the chase wasn’t on, now I was unsure, we had caught half of the breaks dropped riders, I knew my team mate Matt and Adam Hartley were in it, coming back to the new teams I just didn’t know who else there was in the break, and was unsure if he was in our front group the day before. Now I left it to the only people who can beat me on GC are charlie Q and another, if they beat me up the final climb that is. Being pretty confident about the final climb whilst I was sat in Charlie Q attacked very very hard and managed to pull out a gap of around 100 meters, after another 5 minutes the gap was 150 meters and I thought we were going to leave him that far so come the end it would be hard for him to contest, however being a strong rider, especially on the flat he started to gap us more as another 5 minutes on and he was out of site, we were chasing but frustratingly not hard enough, I tried to get people to work but again not much happened, we now had no time at all until the finish, we had gone through 1 mile to the climb and there was now nothing I could do except wait. The pace wasn’t insane for the first 4 mins but then an attack happened, I put my bike in the big ring but then it slipped back into the little and I had to shift back up, then I did a max 40 second effort to try to catch the front 3, I caught one that could take my place in GC and got close to Pete kibble in the final meters. Over the weekend I learnt a lot, after speaking to Peter Georgi who has raced at a high level since being a teenager I now understand a lot more on what I could of done in the race and I’m pleased with where I’m currently at, gutted I couldn’t get my first win in 2016 I still came away with 3rd on GC and hope to get a win very soon, being aggressive I can easily do, except on a 2 day race I should’ve ridden it like a one day…! Being a teenage racer or a pro, there’s always new things you can learn, on wards to my next race being E3 Harlbeke where I hope to prove myself further!
Thanks to Epic Cycle coaching
Stealth secret training