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  • G Wood

The Butterfly Effect

It's amazing how small and seemingly insignificant things, and what on the face of it is a minor decision, can have a potentially large effect on an outcome or result. But more of this later in the Lincoln review. The month started with the news of the postponement of the second round of the U23 national series, the Future Tour of Wales, so I decided to make a mini weekend stage race of my own and do a couple of Nat B’s back to back at Oakenclough and Tim James Memorial.


Cycling Sheffield team manager Dave, always tells us that it's stage racing that make us stronger and with so few opportunities to race back to back days in the UK you have to be a bit inventive to get the cumulative racing fatigue. So far I’ve only done a few that are open to development teams outside the Tour of Britain, which are YBC Peaks 2 day (2 brutal stages) and VE Day memorial RR near Bedford.


The team does have a number of stage races planned in for the coming months with the Rás Tailteann in Ireland, Manx International and the rescheduled Future Tour of Wales later in the year which is great news from development point of view. From the stage racing I have done up to now such as Assen Junior tour, Junior Tour of Wales and Sint Martinusprijs Kontich it seems I tend to get better towards the 4th or 5th day.

So this month has been relatively busy, starting with Oakenclough, a Nat B road race a 60 mile race featuring one long hill. I got in a good break made up of some strong riders on the first lap that had pulled out a decent gap early on but then we went the wrong way due to the lead car being way too far up the road and we couldn't see where it went. By the time we turned around, got back on course and chased back to the peloton, I was out of position for the next break that went and stuck. So it was a frustrating day that saw me finish 7th in the end.


Tim James Memorial Road Race

A brilliant race. It was hard and fast from the gun and on a lumpy course. Exceptionally well organised, a great race venue, very well marshalled and supported and I hope it raised a lot of money for the charity. The team rode really well covering early moves and I managed to get in a break with 5 others that stuck after about 1:15.

Towards the last lap another group of 6 got across to us resulting in most others having a team mate in the break except me. I got worked over a bit by the other teams and in the end sprinted for 4th 32 secs down which Dave told me was the best I could probably do given the dynamics in the group.


The points gained over the weekend of racing helped secure my cat 1 licence for another year but I’m still searching for that elusive win this year.


Lincoln GP (National A)

Outside of CiCle as a UCI race, Lincoln is probably the biggest one day race in the UK. It’s certainly the best supported at the roadside. It was an excellent race. Amazing atmosphere and support for the riders on the cobbled Michaelgate climb and through town. I was really happy with the way I rode the race overall. The legs were great and after the initial couple of laps I was up the front, positioned well for the whole race.

Several breaks went off the front but were never given more than about a minute and a half gap and the final escapees were caught with a couple of laps to go. As the laps ticked by the peloton thinned out from the back as riders got dropped and pulled out or suffered from mechanicals.

Up Michealgate - Photo by Olivia Coukham

With about 3 laps to go there was a major split with the peloton splitting in half and because I was positioned well I made the front group of about 40 riders. However, with 2 to go, a couple of corners before Michaelgate I made the decision to go the wrong side of a bollard, normally no big deal. I found myself at the back of the front group and with the pace that the group was carrying I couldn’t move up before we hit the climb. At this point a gap opened up in the group and it split with 18 riders making to the front.


As our group on the road went in to the final climb up Michaelgate I was towards the back in 16th position out of 19. I knew I had good legs and went as hard as I could up the climb, ultimately passing all but one in our group.


This leaves me wondering if I hadn't made the wrong decision on that turn and lost position at a critical moment how would I have done on the final climb against the front group. I bet there were a few that were on their last legs on that final climb and so I think a top 10 could have been possible. However, cycling teaches you hard lessons but it’s all experience gained for future races.

Through Lincoln town - Photo by Ollie Maynard

I ended up 20th (just like CiCle last month) so to be getting in the top 20 in Nat A and UCI races is positive progress on last year and I know I can do better. I think it’s all coming together. All this gives me a lot of confidence for the coming lumpy Nat A‘s like Ryedale and Lancaster on courses that should suit me better.


Galway Classic


The Team went off to Ireland this month for 4 days and some gravel sectors like CiCle classic. It was a good few days away with the team. We were also staying in the same hotel as the teams from Spirit and Dolan so it was good to see those guys and recce the course with them on the Saturday.

In the end the race didn’t go according to plan for me. Misjudged how tight the first corner of the first sector actually was ---> pulled the brakes mid corner ---> crashed. I managed to chase back to the peloton, then a chase group and then the front group but the bike had seen better days, with a bent derailleur and hood. With 11 other gravel sections to do it was looking a bit grim and I never really got on top of the race after this. I wasn't eating and drinking properly and wasn't as confident on the sectors so kept having to chase after each one. My gear cable got stuck in my wheel so I had to stop and sort that, another chase later and my front shifter had come loose which meant no rear brake for the next 50km.

During a chase Joe and I saw Jimmy waiting for a wheel after his second puncture so we waited and did what we could but once he got on the back of the car I had spent too much energy chasing and pulled the pin, rolling in for 17th. Good work by Jimmy for 9th although we know he could've been much higher placed if it wasn't for bad luck.

The ferry to Ireland

Besides the race, it was a great trip and I’m looking forward to going back to Ireland to see how I go over 5 days at the Rás Tailteann in August.


Testing

I finally got to my testing session with Huw and Craig at Vitfor this month having had to delay it. I was due to go in mid Feb but had to postpone due to catching Covid. In the end I didn’t quite max out physiologically as I was carrying too much fatigue in to the test as my coach Huw was getting me ready for Lincoln. Overall though, I made good progress in terms of efficiency as well as max power but I didn’t hit the numbers we were all expecting.


As the lab test didn't yield the expected results Huw and Craig set me another ramp test and some critical power tests to do. These went much better and were above what they and I expected in terms of performance improvement since the last test.


Hull 25mile TT


My first TT of the year and I was keen to see how I would go given some of the TT work and planning done over the winter. It all came together nicely and I did a 50:14. With the U23 National Championships coming up next month all is looking positive and I want to put in the best performance I can in the TT Improving on my 12th place last year with little racing preparation but plenty of work on being more aero and position.

Trying to set off speed cameras

The end of the month and early June is the small matter of 2nd Year Uni exams. Once these are completed I can fully focus for the summer on building more strength and fitness and racing . I'm certainly finding it tough being in Uni for 30 hours per week and then the training and racing hours on top so having this time back for the summer will be a real bonus.


Upcoming in June


12th June is Yorkshire Road Race Champs. It looks like it’s on the Upper Denby circuit, I know it well enough by now.


From the 15th - 19th is the Rás Tailteann.


And to finish the month, the National championships TT and Road Race - Dumfries and Galloway on the 23rd and 26th.

The TT course looks like it will favour big power riders as it’s relatively short at 14 miles and only has a shallow drag rather than a significant hill. However I’m all in to do my best and get a better result than last year. My power is up and my CdA is down so we will see how it goes.


I’m hoping also I’ve done enough to get selected for the RR after solid 20th’s at the two biggest one day races on the UK calendar, Cicle Classic and Lincoln GP


I got pulled from the RR last year on lap 10 of 13 so hopefully I can put myself in a better position to finish this year.







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