Thursday, 19 May 2011

Braveheart Fund Blog - Lincoln GP and Scottish Races

We’re well into the season now and I’m happy with how things are progressing from last year.
 I have some big races coming up like the Scottish champs and the Rydale GP.
I’ll give you an update on my recent races.
Lincoln GP

 Two weeks ago, it was the Lincoln GP Premier Calendar. Big thanks to Brian Smith and Endura Racing for helping me get an entry. I stayed with the main team but I was riding my own race.  The first half was going well for me; I was strong enough to keep myself in the top 20 and getting a good position for the hard cobbled climb of Michaelgate. That meant that I avoided the splits in the top section after the climb where the bunch always gets strung out to breaking point.

Last year I managed to ride it for the experience but back then, I didn’t have enough speed, skill and strength to last the whole race as I ended up getting caught in a split of 60!
This year I noticed a big difference in my ability to keep up and now compete with the top guys which gives me a real boost.

Unfortunately after the 50 mile mark, when things started to heat up, I was descending the hill and I heard a loud bang! Wasn’t initially sure what it was as it didn’t feel like a puncture, but all of a sudden I felt I was pushing twice as hard!
By this point, the bunch was stretching right out and lots of splits were appearing behind us. I was keen to stay with the front group because I knew going back to the cars would mean race over as they were well behind the splits. I hoped things might ease off and come back together so I could get a new wheel but it didn’t.
Amazed at the difference I felt as soon as my wheel buckled, it turned out my spoke had snapped off! I ended up getting punted; Rob Hayles even tried to give me a push!
Gutted how the race panned out for me. In hindsight I think I probably should have chanced it and gone back to the cars for a new wheel, but now I’ll just have to look forward to the next Premiers.
Scottish Races
The past couple of Scottish races have been going well for me. I was 3rd at David Campbell RR after a good battle with the two Rapha Condor’s and Evan. It was down to the 4 of us going into the 2 small finishing laps.  

I decided to go for a long one when we were just cat and mousing, but the other three worked together to hold me out there until the last lap climb. I tried to recover a bit before they caught me but once they did, they immediately started to go for it.

I responded to first few attacks, but I soon blew up. Ben and Evan got away and I was stuck with James on my wheel.  I really like this race as it’s got a cracking wee climb in it.

Last weekend was the Sam Robinson RR. After catching the early move of the day on the Duke’s, I got myself into the main break of 9 with my teammate Scott McCrossan for company as well. On the way back we were all taking it quite steady as it was a head wind all the way to the finishing circuit and we were well clear of the rest of the field.

The attacks began after passing Balfron for the first time and it was down to me versus Ben Greenwood and James McCallum going into the last lap. They kept attacking me on the climbs but I was able to respond well. We worked together on the head wind section of the lap.

I was planning to attack after the roundabout because I knew James has a good sprint in him. But, as I went about 400m to go, my left leg suddenly locked up with cramp and they got away!  I was disappointed, after all that racing to finish in that way, without a final fight.  This was my first cramp of this season, not sure why yet.
Scottish champs this weekend which should be good.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Braveheart Fund Blog - Tour Doonhame

During the Easter weekend, I was racing the Tour Doonhame Premier Calendar in Dumfries. It was a big goal for me and I wanted to improve on my 27th overall from last year.

At the start of the first day

The weather on day 1 was a shocker! Chucking it down and baltic... The race, though, went well as I was strong enough keep myself out of trouble, avoiding the countless splits in the bunch, punctures and crashes which marred a lot of riders. I did some recce of the stage the week before so I knew what was coming up. I won the KOM at Wanlochead which was good and I got in a lot of breaks especially early on. It was a pity though as they didn’t last long, since you need all the big teams represented or they will chase it down.
A group of eight sneaked away with 10 miles to go. I finished in the next group a minute down, sprinting in to get 15th and 2nd U23 so I was pretty happy with that.

Me winning the KOM at Wanlochead

On Day 2, since Matt Cronshaw was in yellow, Team Raleigh controlled the bunch for most of the day. I got in a move before the Dalveen pass KOM with some other guys but it was brought back quickly. After that, I decided to conserve myself and stay in the top 20 as it was unlikely anything would last to the finish.
Rapha took it up and brought the bunch to a sprint finish in Dumfries.  I finished in the first half of the bunch, with same time as the winner.
Jonny McEvoy, Winner of stage 2

The team after day 2
I was 17th on GC going into Day 3 but there were only a couple of seconds separating me from the top 10 and the U23 title. So the plan was to have a go at the 3 intermediate sprints to get some bonus seconds, as well as the fighting it out at the finish in Castle Douglas.
The guys before the start of day 3
However, for the first one, I couldn’t get myself in a high enough position to sprint it out. The teams were working hard to bring their main men to the front. The other two sprints were written off, as a group managed to get away during the middle part of the stage.
The last few miles were really hectic as every team wanted to get near the front. The top guys used their team mates to move them up so they kept their strength for the sprint to the line   I got myself as high up as I could for the last corner at about 300 metres to go and sprinted in to 11th place, same time as the winner, Jonny McEvoy.
The finish at Castle Douglas on Stage 3
I remained 2nd in the U23 but, surprisingly, I moved down on the GC to 18th on the GC, must have been from stage positioning on stage 2... My team did a good ride, especially Scott McCrossan who did really well, only losing a minute odd after puncturing in the toughest stage on day 1; it was his first premier as well!

Me after the last stage

I‘m really happy overall how it went, considering much of it was controlled by the big teams. I am really looking forward to the rest of the Premiers, as they are one day races where I think the racing will be a bit more open.

Here’s a link to a video of the race: