Published on 23rd July 2019 | By Jake Causier

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.


My most recent blog is all about my most latest race at Giro Valle D’Aosta. For those of you who do not know, Valle D’Aosta is known for being the toughest u23 stage race in Europe. With 6 stages and 5 of them being mountainous. If you have been watching the Tour de France you will know that they rarely do more than 3/4 stages in either the Alps or Pyrenees. This race however was going to be one to forget for me but one I’m going to come back stronger to.

Stage 1 was a very short 2.7km prologue in the streets of Aosta. It was un technical by prologue standards with just 2×90 degree bends and 1 swooping roundabout to take on. I felt a bit blocked up after a long day of travel the day before but this was no issue with the time gaps being so irrelevant. I finished in 44th place @13seconds. An okay ride for me as this kind of effort really is not my thing. Onto the mountains we go!

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Stage 2 was a big stage. Taking on the infamous Cormet de Roselend, Col de Saises and Le Bettex. 2x1st cats and 2x2nd category climbs to kick things off. A break went early on with a strong group. However the peloton played games so they quickly established a good lead. Although teams then began committing meaning over the Roselend the pace was high and I felt good. Onto the Saises we went and I was able to make it into the peloton of now around 20-25guys after the descent. This was when the stage took a turn for the worse. We were catching the break and the gap was only now 2mins with another group at 1min. Then the commissaire decided to take us the wrong way up this steep 2km climb which we raced pretty hard. On hearing we had gone the wrong way we stopped before being told we would roll down to the rest of the race. We arrived and the organisation then allowed every rider who had been dropped back into our group. Completely unfair for those who had not been distanced. The break were set off but the peloton protested and cruised into the finish 17mins down. GC ruined for some. I was annoyed by this as I felt I had some good legs to challenge for a nice result on the stage.

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Stage 3 was once again a mountainous affair and would see us tackle our first summit finish of the race. This stage was fast from the start with a 47km/h average as lots of riders attempted to get in the breakaway. This included me. However, we then began climbing and the pace never really slowed down at all. Riders were being dropped all day meaning about 60 guys were left at the foot of the 2nd to last climb. It was here I began to feel a bit un normal and was unable to follow the pace where usually I would be able to comfortably. We descended and took on the final climb where I began to feel sick. With 10km to go of easy riding I was going backwards and had to stop to be sick. I had no energy and I had to struggle across the line within the time cut. It was a real war for me especially seeing our van with 5km to go. I was sick after again and struggled to eat. By far the worst 20kms of my life. Unsure of the cause I continued the race.

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Stage 4 very much like the others was a mountainous and long affair. 190kms if you include the neutral zone. I had struggled to eat the day before so I was already in damage limitation mode. I stayed in the peloton the whole stage and made the elite selection of around 40guys over the hard middle climb which was pleasing. We got to the final climb and I still did not feel 100%. Making the time limit was now no issue so I rode within myself to the line to finish a respectable 47th. It was a long slog in the saddle today and I was struggling to really take on much food and drink throughout.

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Stage 5 was the queen stage with the most amount of climbing. I woke up this morning feeling rough. Fatigued but also sick. I started the stage. The stage was full gas on the first climb which was not welcomed as it was straight from the gun. I made it over in the peloton and also over the short steep 3rd cat. I then began to feel lightheaded and cruising in the peloton felt super hard. We arrived after 70kms to the 1st of 3 big climbs. I was distanced straight away. Unable to even push higher than z2. I was sweating and struggling to breathe. The doctor instructed me to stop as I was struggling to steer… I was sick again and then put in the ambulance for medical checks on my blood pressure etc. After 1hour in the ambulance I was taken into the broom wagon and was A DNF on the stage.

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For me this was very upsetting but I needed to put my health first. I then struggled to eat after this and even the day after I was feeling energy less and sick.

I have now decided to take around 4/5 days off the bike to replenish the fluids and energy lost during the sickness and to make sure there is no underlying bug/illness still present within my body.

All being well I will return to training on Thursday before my next race on Tuesday in Cours La Ville before then kicking off an exciting 2nd half of my season.

I am already looking forward to racing this race in 2020 where hopefully I will have more luck!

Many thanks to my sponsors for making my dream possible

  • Dave Rayner Fund
  • Bay Cycles
  • Molyneux Associates
  • My parents lol