In July, I travelled over to the Basque Country to do some racing and make the most of my good form when there is not much on back in the UK. It was a brilliant trip, well worth it. I really loved the terrain, the people and the racing.
I stayed for two weeks with an U23 rider, Ander Barrenechea and his family in Galdakoa. They were very kind and generous. They took me to see two stages of the Tour in the Pyrenees which was awesome! I would like to thank them very much for everything they did and for letting me stay with them.
At the races I was riding for Ander’s team, Ibaigane Opel. The managers were really helpful, sorting out all my entries and licences I needed and during the races where they would support me for feeding etc.
I was really happy how I got on in the races especially in the two elite races I did, where I got 10th and 14th.They were fast and furious going up and down, and had a lot of strong riders from many different countries around the world.
LXXXIV BEASAINGO LOINAZ KLASIKA – Elite race
My first Elite race was the day after my U23 race. It was a hilly 95 mile Classic in Beasaingo, on a cool, really wet day - similar to Scotland!
It was a really big event as there were lots of Elite teams from across Spain, many of them feeder teams for the professional teams like Caja Rural and Andalucia.
It was really fast from the gun, similar to a Premier calendar. After the first two climbs, the bunch was down from 150 riders to only around 40. After that, on the fourth climb, a break of 8 got away and I bridged across to it on the descent.
We worked well together and got well clear of the bunch. By the time we hit the last two climbs my legs started to struggle as everyone was attacking each other. The last one in particular was a killer.
I finished 10th, 2nd U21. Really happy considering the riders I was competing with.
|The winner, Jose Belda, drives the bunch on first climb and rides away from everyone on the second - I'm in the green/blue jersey second from the right|
|The bunch gets decimated on the 3rd climb|
|I made the break after the fourth climb and we gained a good gap from the rest|
22 CLASICA BAIONNE PAMPLONA – Elite race
My 2nd elite race was the following weekend on much better day. It started in Bayonne, France and finished in Pamplona, Spain which is on a high plateau.
Caja Rural, one of the best teams in Spain, dominated the race. On the main climb that goes up to 800 m altitude, there was 9 of them drilling at the front. The bunch got whittled down until there were about 40 of us left.
The last 30km were very fast as they were trying to catch a lone French elite who was a minute ahead. Surprisingly he survived to win. I finish 14th after my legs went 400 m to the line
In my two U23 races I got 16th then 8th place. They reminded me of my Junior racing as they were non stop attacking all day.
My experience in the Basque Country was brilliant. It gave me a good insight into racing abroad other than Belgium and the system of progression in the Basque country. I definitely want to go back in the future.
My next target is the last two premiers at the end of the month, Twinning PRO-AM tour and especially the Richmond GP as the course suits me well.
|The publicity caravan comes past us as we wait for the riders on the Luz Ardiden|
|We made the most of the free jersey's as it was freezing 3km from the top!|
|Sanchez and Venendert are the first to arrive - the Basque fans were going mental at this point!|
|I messed up taking a pic of the favourites but here's George Hincapie..|
|Luis Leon Sanchez and Jens Voigt|
|Me and Ander at the border on the way home|
|Stunning views of the Pyrenees|