Racing is well and truly back
Geared Up day at the races
Doncaster crit was at the end of May and it was the first crit I'd done in 16 months so the first 20 minutes were a bit of a shock to the system. Having just had my first covid jab I wasn't sure how the legs were going to be however they seemed to be alright as I didn't have any side effects all week. The race didn't go to plan though, I missed two breaks that eventually became one large front group. The second group was policed by teams who had made the split so all of my attacks and any attacks by others were chased down. Sprinted in for 20 something'th place and a good training session.
Manila Round 1
The week after was Round 1 of the Mark Evans Memorial series in Middlesbrough with a few conti riders and Harry Tanfield on the startlist it was going to be a tough hour of racing. Probably within 10 minutes Harry had got away with a couple of others who he promptly dropped and then lapped the bunch. I got in a small group attacking off the peloton which riders came across to in 1's and 2's until it was a group of about 10 riders all working together. We caught back up to Harry who was still a lap ahead and then caught the other two who went with him so the group swelled even more. This group worked really well and didn't start playing games until about 4 laps to go. One got off the front in the last 2km so we were sprinting for third and coming into the final to corners I was in second wheel behind Harry but not for long since he took about 3 or 4 bike lengths out of me by railing the corners. I sprinted for 5th (3rd in the bunch kick) so overall it was a good race and useful to see the difference between world tour pro's and us.
Holohan Coaching Road Race
The day after was the third Nat B road race to take place this year and also my birthday. On paper the race was a flatter course than the last road race so wouldn't suit me as well but there was still a decent amount of elevation and winding roads which meant that it was very easy to get out of sight on certain parts of the course. Had a great race and was well positioned for most of the time, close to the front and got in a couple of moves but they got brought back by the bunch who were working hard on the fast sections. Unbeknownst to me a solo rider had gone up the road just after half way through the race which stayed away to take the win. Coming into the final everything slowed down and bunched up going up the final hill and I was well positioned up the front of the bunch but unfortunately hit a large pothole inside 1km to go and punctured so that was race over.
In the middle of June I went up to Harrogate for my 6 month physiological testing at Vitfor. These are sessions I’m always excited about as it’s a chance to see how the training I’ve been set is delivering results in the specific areas we are targeting. At the same time though, they are sessions that really hard as it’s usually a ramp test to failure. I'm pleased to say that all of my numbers are continuing to go up thanks to my coach Huw Spacey who knows exactly what I need to be doing to strengthen the areas that have the most potential for improvement.
Spokes Road Race
A team of 3 of us from Cycling Sheffield travelled up to Aberdeenshire to race in a National B road race organised by my old team, Spokes RT. It was good to finally go away for an (technically foreign) event with the team. The course was a long loop of 29km finished with the tough Suie Road climb (3km at 5.4% but the main part is 1.7km at 10%). We would tackle the climb 4 times and finish at the top making this race the first road race I'd done this year that wasn't restricted to 2 hours.
The race went very well from start to finish with all 3 of us being on the bumper of the car in neutral. We spent the first lap controlling attacks and saving our legs for the first time up the climb. As expected quite a few attacks happened on the first ascent and a few people were dropped but it was a very big group still at the top. I stayed towards the front in 2nd or 3rd wheel so if anyone did put in a strong attack I was able to follow. The second time up the climb I put in an effort to test peoples legs and got a gap on a group of 12 or so riders but I sat up over the top because I wouldn't have been able to hold it on the descent and the flat. This group worked very well but we were caught on the third lap by a big group and so people sat up. Just as this happened I continued to ride steadily and pulled away from the group, I was joined by teammate Will Harding and a rider from rt23 and then moments later another rider from rt23 and two wheelbase riders. We pushed on to establish the gap and one of the wheelbase riders dropped off after a deceiving climb that wasn't the Suie. The 5 of us took our turns and rode a hard but steady climb the third time around. In the finale both rt23 riders were alternating attacks which both Will and I chased down every time so it was one group coming to the final climb. I attacked when it got steep but my legs weren't as good as I'd hoped so wasn't able to do as much power as I had done the 2nd time up. It came down to a sprint between me and Finn Crockett of Wheelbase and I managed to win once I'd got on top of the gear. Will came in 3rd as well.
We worked super well as a team and thanks to the guys for a great weekend.