May '21 - Return to the Road
What a weird month May has been - cancellations due to Covid but also the weather with biblical amounts of rain. It made me wonder when things were ever going to start and to be fair it was pretty late in the month...
Sunday 23rd May was a day a lot of cyclists have been waiting for, the official return to road racing in England. I think it was Larry at Velo UK that posted that it was the first race for something like 435 days, so I was one of many riders keen to pin on a number again and race. I knew I had to give it a good go but everyone else was surely feeling the same.
Training had been going well and I was feeling good. My power has shown some significant improvements with each training ride and after some discussions with Coach Huw, I went in to the race with a clear plan on how we thought I should ride it and I mostly rode exactly how I planned which was really positive.
As the race day approached it felt great to finally get back into the pre race routine, prepping the bike and my kit, digging out the race wheels, checking the weather and sorting my nutrition. At the race I used my familiar routine and warm up, I didn’t want to introduce anything new on the day for such an important race.
There was a half lap rollout to get on the course and get sighted on the descent before the flag dropped.
Everyone was keen to race and as a result the first hour was frantic. The sharp descent had some tight corners under trees that were still damp so everyone had to take care but there was still a few crashes for some riders. A break got up the road early on the first lap and at one point had just over a minute on the bunch. More attacks went off the front in the first hour which tried to bridge but didn’t stick.
The race then started to break up in the second hour and I had several small digs to get away as moves started to go and eventually I jumped on a move that went with 3 laps to go. A group of 4 of us got away and bridged up to the front group of 5 and this group went all the way to the finish to fight for the win.
Theo Obholzer of Dolan Ellesse, opened up his sprint early from the front of the group and took the win. I started my sprint from half way down the group and got boxed in a bit on the inside but managed to find a gap as it opened up and sprinted for 3rd behind Alex Peters of Swift Carbon.
I was really pleased to get 3rd place for the team and for myself in my first race at U23 level against a stacked field of domestic pro riders, beating some really strong riders and hopefully making a good start on my mission to move up a level.
Post race it was my first interview with Larry from Velo UK (watch here) . Velo UK and the team share a supporter in Bioracer UK , exceptional kit and the most comfortable I've raced in so far. A massive thanks goes to Giles Pidcock and his team for putting on an excellent race in what must have been difficult circumstances with extra rules and regulations to follow.
Thanks to everyone who supports me including Pedal Potential which is a huge help in tough times. Thanks too, as always, to the Vitfor team of my coach Huw Spacey and Craig Stevenson, Performance Director, who guide and support me with my training and my ongoing growth. Also to Dave Coulson who has kept us all going in the team with brilliant support at Cycling Sheffield, he knows what it takes to make a pro cyclist and does everything he can to support us. Looking forward to really getting stuck into this season after this great start.
The races next up are the Geared Up Day at the Races held at the newly built Doncaster circuit. It’s a circuit I’ve never ridden before so looking forward to a good day out and some fun, intense racing for an hour or so. How I will go is a bit of an unknown as I’ve just had my first covid jab so hoping that won’t impact me too much!
This is followed by a Bank Holiday Social ride from Pina who sponsor the team. Its always a good time riding out with a group and having an excellent burrito and chat after the ride. If the weather is fine then it will be a chilled day and good recovery ride from the day before.
After Geared Up, June is a busy month with the Manilla series up in Middlesbrough, the Holohan Coaching Road Race in Leighton, then Severn Bridge Road Race and at the end of the month, the only surviving Nat A Circuit Race in Otley.
In the middle of June I also have physiological testing in Harrogate with the Vitfor team to see how I've improved over the last 9 months and the results will help plan my training for the next period. I'll sit down with the team there and plan my training goals for the rest of the race season.
See you at Donny!