This blog post was written by Harrison Wood, a new rider funded by the Dave Rayner Fund for 2019. You can read the original post here.
Recently I have been super busy with racing and training. In the month of April, I have raced every weekend and gained some nice results and good experiences. In this blog post I will summarise my experiences from the races and hopefully give you all an insight into European racing.
Sunday 7th April- La Puy Ste Reparade
This was the local race organised by my team Aix en Provence. A short 50km race with short laps of 3km. Some technical parts and some longer straights would make for an interesting race. Just before the start we were met with biblical conditions. The temperature went from 16 degrees to 5 degrees in about 5 minutes. It was raining cats and dogs. We set off for a wet race. After one lap in the wind and rain the group was already down to 15 riders from the 80 odd starters. It then started hailing… however at this point the race was shortened to 40kms. I was freezing and rolled over the line for 11th from the group.
Saturday 13th April- Trofeo EdilC UCI 1.2 U23
My first UCI in the under 23 category. This race was also in Italy. 150kms covering several laps of a shorter circuit with a steady climb but also a sketchy descent then some longer circuits with a short, steep climb and another typically Italian sketchy descent. This was going to be hard. The race started off pretty fast, lots of attacks and teams controlling and covering them. I stayed in the peloton. The break was then established and a couple of teams set about controlling the race. However, at this point I was caught up in a crash.
I got back on and made it back to the peloton. Then another 20kms later I was stuck behind another big bunch pile up. I made it back on but I could feel it now in my legs after 100kms. We then hit the shorter climb laps, each lap I stayed in the peloton as the group was majorly whittled down, but a break of 15 was now up the road. With 1 lap to go I got to the front and began to chase down the break for my team as we had missed it. On the final climb with 5kms to go I blew up and was dropped from the group along with the guys I had been chasing with. Sadly the team could not bridge across. I finished 57th.
Sunday 14th April- Giro Provincia di Biella
Sadly a bad race for me. It once again rained and was super cold. After 90kms I was in the front group of around 40 guys when we hit the finishing loops including a steep climb. At this point I shipped my chain. I stopped put it back and regained contact, little did I know my gear cable had actually snapped. After this I had no big ring for the fast descent and I span out the back of the group. DNF in this race which was annoying as I had really good legs and felt I could of gone for a good result.
Monday 22nd April- Gap Romette Chaliol
This was a short but very hard race. Located near Gap we would take on 3 mountain passes. 2 longer ones and a shorter one. The race finishing up at a ski resort! The race started off with a 7km climb straight from the gun. I warmed up on the turbo so I was ready. I saw an opportunity after a flurry of attacks and launched an attack. I was solo and the bunch sat up. One other guy went shortly after he began to chase after me. I stayed solo then for another 20kms before easing back to let the guy come across. We now had 1min on the peloton. We continued to work together and on the final climb a guy came across who is one of the best u23 MTB riders in France and the world. The peloton were now at 2mins. With 1km to go he attacked and I went with him. We had now dropped my early breakaway companion. He went again and I reacted well. I was now really suffering. He attacked again and this time I could not react. I rolled over the line for 2nd. Super happy with this after the whole race in front.
27th/28th April- Tour d’Ardeche
A 2 day race weekend in the Ardeche region of France. 2 separate races so no GC to ride for. The first day was 135kms with some hard climbs. The 2 hardest coming on the circuit we did 2 times. It was 1.7kms at 8 percent. The team managed to get a rider in the break so after this we conserved energy. The first time up this hard climb it split. I was 3rd over the top in the group which was around 15 riders. However, there was no cohesion and the peloton regrouped. One team then set a tempo on the front as they had missed the break. The 2nd time up this climb was where the race really went. Around 15 guys over the top including me, Alex and Masa who had been in the early break. This break then worked well together and we opened up a solid gap to the peloton. With around 15kms to go me and Alex were attacking lots and following moves, but with a headwind nothing was sticking. We arrived to the uphill sprint and I rolled in 8th with Alex 7th.
The 2nd day was longer (150kms) and the parcour was harder with a 2.8km climb at 8 percent early on and then lots of punchy hills throughout the race. On this first climb me and Alex were in a break of 15 with around 1min on the bunch. This should of gone to the finish but one team in the break decided to really push on and we were a group of 7 come the top. Teams regrouped and chased us down. A shame as i had wasted some matches here. After this there were lots of attacks but nothing really sticking before a break of around 16 went away including 2 Aix riders. A counter then went with 1 more Aix rider. I thought the race was over when I saw Jaako Hainnen attack (AG2R PRO IN JULY), I then attacked with 2 other guys and we bridged across to him and then the counter which was now at 30seconds behind the break. I sat on and they took us across to the front to form a group of around 25ish guys up front and the peloton was at about 5mins. However, I was pretty tired by this point. Lots more attacks took place to split the group and one guy got away. I came 21st. An okay result but I would of liked to of done better but sadly after an offensive race from the gun I could not produce the best sprint in the world.
There you go. My review of racing in April. It was pretty intense and I really enjoyed it. Hopefully in May, I can go for another win or help a team mate get a win!
Thanks to the Dave Rayner fund for making this possible and Aix en Provence for giving me these opportunities to learn and race in France and Europe.
I hope you enjoyed my blog. The next one is going to be an insight into the road and time trial bikes I’m using in 2019!