3RT Crit, Tour De Portes and Fred Whitton
Before the weekend started it was a case of an FPT test the day before the Crit. Most people would say it isn’t their favourite activation before a race but I always look on the bright side and just thought that my legs would be nice and activated for the Crit even if there was some pain. Saturday started with a chilled morning giving my bike a clean before heading out over to York. After picking up Jordan in some decent weather we got to York where we went and signed on and got changed. Following that it was time to get on the rollers. After one of the team mechanics (aka dad), over oiling the chain this meant that my fresh white socks now had a Dalmatian pattern to them, (teach me to do it myself next time)! It was then time for a few laps of the course trying to remember how to take the corners as I hadn’t raced there in a year. The race started quite quickly with a lot of attacks going. I stayed up there in the top few trying to get in some breaks of my own. After going too far back in the bunch I missed two riders that went up the road who quickly gained a quick lead. Then another few went up the road, I then knew I had to get onto them. Coming round the hairpin bend there was a long straight which curved round to the start finish so I went hard into the cross wind getting me and Matt Taylor off the front. After a few turns me and Matt quickly got up to the second two riders with the first two still up the road. Then Jake Womersley got across meaning there were five of us. We worked quite well together but weren’t going full on which meant the two up the road stayed there and as it got a bit cagey coming onto the last few laps the win was all but gone. So my efforts were then focussed onto the podium. Coming into the last half a lap I attacked the group I was in and was quickly followed but having a few bike lengths I kept pushing and the gap grew out coming into the head wind section so I came through to take 3rd. I was happy with this in an E123 Crit. Good event put on by 3RT. Thanks.
Tour De Portes
This started with some travelling down to Folkestone on the Thursday with my Dad and Danny Marsden who would be helping with the long drive to Troyes and the mechanicing for the weekend. On the way down to Folkestone we picked up Callum and Angus at the services then carried on the journey. Once we got to Folkestone it was quite late. So we took the bikes out of the van and took them up into the room. After meeting up with the others we went to bed. It was an early get up on Friday morning, we got straight up, we loaded the cars and van before setting off to the tunnel. It all went pretty smoothly. Once we got to Calais we started the drive down to Troyes, where we would be staying for a few days. Once we got there we dropped the bags off in the room and got ready for a little pre-race spin on the bikes. The terrain was rolling and it was very windy. Following this we got back, changed and then went over to the canteen for tea. It felt like a throwback to school with school meals the only difference was it was French style. After this we had a chill and went to bed. Not having to get up too early the next morning we went and got breakfast and then packed our bags for the stage which was in the afternoon. Still a bit full from breakfast we went back to the canteen for some lunch, (supplied by the race organisers). Then it was time to set off and get ready for sign on, on the stage for the Team presentation. Then we went for a little ride before lining up for the start of the race. The neutral was sketchy to say the least which ended in me getting a flat after going down a pot hole. With the car positioned very far back it meant a long wait but after a decent change (with the need to get the chain back on) I made my way back to the convoy and worked my way through it. Once the race began so did the rain and with a bit of cross wind a few teams put it in the gutter which meant the bunch strung out a little. I managed to work my way up to a decent enough place in the bunch then once we turned onto a narrow country road and there was a cross wind everyone wanted the left hand side of the road which meant there was a crash ending up with me in a French ditch…soft landing at least. After some guy eventually decided to get off my bike it was time to get chasing. (A good start to the race being only 30K in at this point). Once I got on my bike I made my way up to a group of around 10 riders then coming up to the first KOM of the race I went past them hard and just over the crest of the hill made my way up to another group of around 15. With the bunch now in sight but the pace not really letting up I managed to make it into the few cars that had got past the carnage. Then I got back on. After that I thought it would be a good idea to have something to eat and the minute I decided to stick my hand in my pocket some guys decided to have a lie down on the floor. Thankfully I managed to avoid it. A few K’s down the line I was feeling good so coming into a cross wind section I went hard stringing out the group and causing a few splits at the front. Then realising Ben was also up there he attacked once we slowed down a little and then it was just a case of following moves while he was out front solo. Unfortunately Ben got caught around 10 Km’s from the finish so it was just trying to get into a good position for the last climb. On the last climb I didn’t want to leave it to the sprint so with about 3 Km’s to go I attacked 3 times not managing to get off the front which meant it was going to be a bunch finish. In the end I finished in the bunch. Day 2 started early with some porridge pots and a bowl of coffee (the French cups are tiny). After this we quickly went and set off to get ready for the time trial. The first thing we did was get the time trial bikes checked and thankfully there were no problems. This meant we had plenty of time to get changed and have a good warm up ready to leave everything out on the road. The TT started well with Ben getting us up to speed nice and quickly with me taking over after him and we all worked really well together with 5 of us finishing out of 6. Finishing 3rd on the TTT, less than half a second behind 2nd place. This meant we all had decent positions now on GC with 4 of us in the top 15. Going into the road stage which was a bit hillier than the previous day I was hoping it would split up on the climbs so coming into the bottom of the first real climb I got away with Dylan Hughes and a few French lads but the gap didn’t go out too much and we were caught after around 20 Km’s. After than not too much happened with a few attacks going but nothing was allowed away due to a team controlling it well on the front. In the end I finished 15th on GC, joint on time with 7th and 2nd in the KOM competition.
This was a ride which I looked forward to with it being the Teams main sponsor. Saturday morning started with a little ride before heading over to the Lake District. Once we got there we were a bit early for sign on so my brother and dad who were camping went over to pitch the tent at a local campsite and I pretended to help. After a quick tent put up we went over to Grasmere to meet the guys and sign on. Once we all found each other we went inside to sign on realising that Callum didn’t know what order numbers go in and somehow loosing Jameson in the process. Then it was time to head off back to the Hostel this is where Ben, Callum, Jameson and Tom went for a ride (Henry Hollyman too), leaving me and Lewis to mess around on the bikes. A few Supermans later and it was time for tea hoping that the portions were going to be huge to get us round next day when the lasagne came it was nice but too small for our liking so after great confusion from the people serving Jed managed to get us another portion each which just about filled the space with a dessert. After this it was time to check the bikes were all good and put the numbers on sportive style. Then we got ready for a very early morning and then went to bed. Then beep beep ...well Sunday morning was here …might as well have still been Saturday night. 4.25am the alarms rang. I drew the short straw being first out of bed meaning I had to walk like a Zombie to the other side of the room to switch the light on. We opened the curtains to our disgust at some drizzle and cold which was a bit of a moral slash to say the least. Then we got our cycling kit on and walked down to breakfast. I went all out on the carbs with 2 porridge pots and a bag of rice which I was defeated by and decided to shove it in my back pocket for the ride down to the start. Once we were on the start line at 6am a few photos were taken before we led out the Fred Whitton challenge. We started off with the 6 of us riding in pairs before a fair press on up Kirkstone pass and then heading over to Honister Pass where the feed would be down the valley after it. After waiting for a bit at the feed to re-group we set off again together with a rude awakening straight up Newlands Pass then down the winding road down towards the next climb which would be Whinlatter, this is where we saw Jed at the bottom. WE then carried on at Whinlatter and then headed over towards the Moors with a nice view of the sea, Jameson got a flat and realising he didn’t have a clue how to use a gas canister I lent him my pump and we quickly got back on our way over to the big one Hardknott Pass. Well… that was a stinger. Then we carried on over to Wrynose Pass which was the last one of the big climbs but not the last climb. After the decent it was a case of one last kicker (Bleach Tarn). Then it was just about 10Km’s to the finish where we finished ourselves off with a Team Time Trial on some tired legs. It was a good hard ride finished off with some pie and peas and a few hours journey home.
Time to catch up on some sleep…
Thanks to Pedal Potential, KCA and Dean Downing for your continued support!
Looking forward to Axel this weekend!