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.
This was my first proper stage race as an under 23. Volta Castello is a 4 day stage race located near Valencia. I like racing in Spain, it is always really well organised and a very relaxed atmosphere. This race was no different.
The first stage was a relatively flat stage but with a 7km climb shortly after the start. This spelt danger as a large break of strong guys could go here. I stayed attentive and made sure I was following the stronger teams. After the 3rd category climb after 60kms a break of 6 had formed including Jonathan of my team. The aim was to now follow counter attacks. I found myself then off the front with 2 guys. We all had a rider infront so this was a good situation so we all committed to riding across. This worked and when we got across we had 1min30 to the peloton which was not being controlled. After this the gap continued to grow and grow out to 4mins. With 10kms to go the games began as we knew we had the stage win within reach. With 1km to go Jonathan attacked and went onto win. I sat on the others and attacked with 500m to go and took 3rd @3seconds. The bunch came in a further 3mins behind. Was the GC already wrapped up?
The 2nd stage was more my kind of cup of tea. A hilly affair with a 2 cat 3 and 1 cat 2 climbs. We as a team had the yellow jersey and me in the youngest rider jersey. We decided to control the early part of the race once a break of 4 had been established. This was a brilliant piece of teamwork. Then with around 50kms to go a team came to the front before a technical descent where i hit 90km/h (sorry mum and dad), this was followed by the 3rd cat [email protected]% climb. This destroyed the race and only 18guys were left in front. Sadly, Jonathan had been distanced but Aix still had 3 guys in front but this was the same for the guys who were 4th and 5th on GC. They rode super hard and the gap grew. On the final climb 2 guys took off and had an advantage of 10seconds but on the descent the Lizarte team didn’t ride too fast so come the finish it was 50 seconds. I rolled in 9th. I had moved up a place on GC to 2nd but I was now 50 seconds behind.
The queen stage had arrived for stage 3. 3000m of elevation over the 130kms with a summit finish at 1400m. This suited me well and the team looked after me nicely. We placed 3 riders in the early break and put pressure on the yellow jersey to chase. As we came onto the final climb which was 25kms long but broken down into 2 with a false flat and short descent in the middle. The rider in 3rd on GC attacked with 1km to go from the top but the yellow jersey still had 2 team mates. I thought better of it and decided to save my legs. However over the top his team were struggling and the gap grew to 1min30 by the time of the final 7km uphill section. I knew I had to attack, so I did. I went super hard and got the gap and settled into a solid pace. The yellow jersey had been dropped. I was gaining time to the leader and come the finish I had conceded 40seconds. I was left with mixed emotions. I had come 2nd in the queen stage (one of hardest u23 stages in Spain) but I felt I could of won if I had gone with his attack. I was still 2nd on GC @37seconds.
The final stage had arrived and it was a challenging one. A rolling 100kms followed by a cat2 climb of 8kms with a descent and flat to the finish. The yellow jersey team took control and gradually reeled in the break which consisted of 2 Aix riders in an attempt to break the leaders team. I was feeling good but disaster struck 2kms before the climb. My gear cable snapped. I jumped on Alex bike as the team car was stuck behind a group. I rode on it for 2kms and then changed onto my spare bike. 2 riders of the team waited but i had a hard solo chase for a period of time. This hurt and the yellow jersey team rode a super hard tempo on the final climb which meant about 15guys were left. Luckily I got over this climb in that group but I was not able to do the attack I had planned. I rolled in with this group at the finish.
A really successful first u23 stage race for me. 2nd on general classification. 1st in the young riders classification. 2nd in the points classification and 6th in the mountains competitions. 3 top 10’s also meant I had been super consistent.
Thanks to my teammates for the hardwork and dedication to achieving a result in such a good race.
Thanks also to the Dave Rayner Fund for supporting me in 2019.
My next races will see me take on
- The UK national TT champs
- Hopefully the road race, but I’m currently a reserve…
- Tour d Pays Roannais
- Valle d’Aosta U23