First of all I’d like to thank Jerrod Hartley of VCUK for giving me a lift over to this race and Tom Schellekens of TWC Pijnenburg for allowing me to ride for them in the race, I’d also like to thank all of my current sponsors who help me out so much. So thanks for everyone who has helped to make my racing do-able.
Stage one-A lumpy day 100km long with 3 long draggy climbs finishing with one section at 6% for just under 2 minutes, so some found themselves hurting after the drag. I stayed at the front from 15 minutes into the race until I attacked with 16 miles to go, being just after 2 laps to go it was a good time to go, however we literally stayed out for 10 minutes as the other two I was up the road with were already skipping turns 5 minutes in, so I kept working to keep the gap hoping that the next time up the climb riders would come across to the move, It seemed as if halfway up 7 or 8 tried to come across but the nature of the racing meant the bunch didn’t let it go and it came back together. On the final lap I dropped back for a drink from the car, which only after a hairpin with 5 miles to go I found out it wasnt there and wondered why nobody called the car up, so I only moved up to mid bunch on this stage in the last 5 miles, the sprint was after a fast downhill and only included 20 seconds of available sprinting being on junior gears and going so fast, 1 second off the winner from 2nd to 115th position or so, so gc was ok.
Stage 2a-TTT, Not riding a TTT together before until the morning of the race, personally I was unsure on what to expect in the race, 3×1.85 mile loops it included some fast bends and a nasty steep 1 minute climb in maxing at 8% and average of 6% this was steep for a TTT and made it hard for ourselves on how to pace it are my thoughts looking at it now. With all of us finding that one minute section hard I feel that pushing hard on the flat for some may have been an issue although I’m unsure, we were 34 seconds off the riders from Denmark who proved the TTT was important after one of their riders won by 2 seconds on gc in the end. Sadly the TTT played a large role on the GC.
Stage 2b- After being attacking from around 1 hour into the race my team mate Willem got into the break, when I tried to bridge after the descent the bunch started chasing me so after myself and 3 others got to 7 seconds or so with the bunch close I knew I had to let it go, so I let the bunch carry on chasing the 20 man breakaway group which they failed so catch, It was a very frustrating moment for myself in the race, as that breakaway after stage 4 took up 16th and better on GC! On the finishing circuit of 3 times through the finish line I sat in, a 3 man group were already up the road so 4 others got across to it, I saw them going with about 3km to go, the chase was on a little but when it fully sat up myself and two others tried to bridge the 20 second gap with 2km to go, with 300 to go on the final climb I attacked to make sure the bunch didnt catch and I still got some seconds, however 6 of them came around me in the sprint, so the effort was worth a try, but being one of the biggest junior UCI 2.1s out there it wasnt racing for the soft.
Stage 4-A fairly hilly race and everybody wanted to either defend their GCs or get away off the front. The two biggest climbs both around 10 minutes long I tried to get away on the first around 3 times, both of the first moves were slowly dragged close back to the chase and were counter attack, the third time the KOM Jersey and 4 others got away over the top once it had become 4% or so, wind was playing a role and I thought we were going to get away, with hard turns still we were brought back which was crazy, nothing was leaving the front. The next climb, infamous Cote Du Rosier, which we rode at the same pace as the men in Liege-Bastogne-Leige narrowed the group to 40 of the strongest in the race, In the finishing circuit of 2.5 laps of 3.5 miles a small group of 6 managed to get away, 2 of which stayed out to hold to take 6 seconds on the 35 man bunch. The yellow jersey had a tough day going out the back slightly on the climbs but respectively held his own on the shorter punchier climbs on the finishing circuit.
Sadly on GC I was 31st, 16 made up from the breakaway then 17th to 35th being the peloton depended on where you finished in the TTT, some very big names and winner of the biggest junior races outside the top 20 in GC in a similar situation to myself made me feel better about where I came, I learnt a lot and its pleasing to be able to attack on climbs at the highest level of Junior racing. My next UCI will be Keizer, where I hope to ride in the same way as I have here, but come away with a great result. Thanks again to everyone for the support!