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Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Trials and Tribulations

The last month or so since I last checked in here hasn't been plain sailing to say the least. From being on a bit of a high from the Tour of Bretagne, I got a bit of a virus most probably from being depleted from the race . I thought I was over this so decided to rock up at Redditch tour series. This turned out to be a bit of a mistake as I wasn't fully over this and had to abandon with some weird health symptoms. Following this, I went for a load of different tests over the next 2 and a half weeks mostly to do with my heart. This was a very frustrating period of not knowing if I had an issue or not but mostly missing one of my key target races for the year, The Fleche de Sud.

After seeing many different people and finally an expert based in London, I was given the all clear to get back training and racing.  It was actually quite interesting to see the 3D heart scan etc. I was pleased to hear this and dead motivated to regain some fitness which seemed to be going pretty well. Then 2 weekends ago I got back to racing in Belgium in GP Memorial Van Conningslo. However, this race came to a very premature end. Crashing fairly early on, hard onto my face! I was taken to hospital where I had stitches on my lip and nose. I also once again took my front tooth out (3rd time in a race!!!!). Fair to say, I did a proper job..... A few days later now when I've tried to train again but my left knee has been giving me grief from something sustained in the crash. This means even more time off the bike and in rehab to get me back on the road.

This has been really annoying having a vast chunk of my mid season taken away through misfortune. However,  hopefully it won't be too long until this knee is sorted and  stitches are out so my looks aren't quite as dented as last week! Just more scars to add to the collection.... I've been feeling pretty sorry for myself but it could have been worse and I could have ended up like Froome.

I'm doing what I can to get my knee sorted but this is mostly a waiting game. Frustrating as this is, I'm just looking forward to getting back racing once I'm fit again.


Friday, 3 May 2019

Polka Dots in Bretagne

Tour de Bretagne

So last week saw me off to France to race what is one of Wales Racing Academy’s highest level races of our season, the tour de Bretagne. All of us were pretty nervous but really excited to be exposed to such a high level of competition. There was an element of heading into the unknown against this competition.
Personally, I was really up for just getting stuck in and seeing what I could achieve as I was happy with my condition going into the race.

tour de Bretagne in brief
This is a 7 day UCI 2.2 stage race. With the list of teams entered incredibly strong being either hardened, continental level or the cream of the crop world tour development teams. The tour was also aired on french national TV.

Heading into the first stage, the weather was pretty inclement with pouring rain and a fairly strong wind off the sea. My goal of the day here was to get up the road which I succeeded in very early on. I was brought back after around an hour but later in the stage I claimed some first category mountain points which put me in the polka dot jersey.  I was really pleased with this! 

Then onto stage 2 with the weather still being pretty grim I managed to some how slope off into the break of the day. This enabled me to gain plenty of valuable mountain points to distance myself from my rivals in the KOM competition. This was a long day out front with my 2 break away companions. We lasted out front for 150km so it was a taxing day on the legs.

Heading into the remaining stages of the tour now I was in a tricky situation as I was only 8 secs back on the general classification and I had a big white and red target on my back so wasn’t allowed much leeway to go on the attack.

 This made gaining points to retain my jersey pretty tricky. I tried my best to pick up some minor points where I could but with riders sloping up the road gaining the maximum points, this was a tough ask. And after 4 days in the jersey, I was dethroned. Just to add, on the day I lost the jersey, me and the rest of the team did everything in our power to keep the jersey and to bring back danger men. It was a super tough ask and eventually we were done over. It was a little gutting but we did everything in our power to hold it. I was made up with how selfless the lads were for me so the favour will definitely be re-paid further into the season.

The last few days I tried to ride very aggressively again to gain points back to re-gain the jersey but it just didn’t happen. I came home second in the King of the mountains jersey just 6 points off the eventual winner. On the last day I had a pretty unfortunate mechanical putting me out of any contention of the dying embers of the race. 

I pressed on hard to the finish to complete what was on the whole a great weeks racing in Brittany. Now onwards to the next races with the form hopefully being furthered by
racing at such a high level.

It was great to have plenty of support for us welsh boys roadside from both Bretagne residents and Welsh alike. Also got to add a big thanks to everyone who messaged me support throughout the week I really appreciated it!

Friday, 19 April 2019

Totnes and Klondike

Racing season is now well under way. The last two weekends have been spent on the road. First up was Totnes - 2 day stage Race followed by Klondike the first National Series race of the year.

After a pretty savage hill-climb up Haytor I finished in the bridesmaids slot to Steve Lampier of St Piran by the narrowest of margins (2 tenths of a second...). The next 2 days, me and the team tried hard to gain an inch on 'Lamps' but it wasn't to be. I finished up 2nd on GC after the 3 races. Teammate Josh took a 2nd in the crit and a 3rd in the final stage. Good weekend riding by all of the team. This set me up nicely going into Klondike the following weekend.

It was an attritional but controlled day for the most part until the last hour when a flurry of attacks occurred. The first attack occurred up the Saltburn bank which was a short but punchy kick off the seafront. This split the race to bits!  From then on in there was a constant wave of attacks whittling down the field until there was a select few remaining to contest the win. I remained with the leaders through the series of big moves until my legs completely fell over with about 14k to go. It was survival mode until the finish when I rolled in 24th. There were positives and negatives to take from this race. Digging so deep to stay with the moves until I was no longer able. I was disappointed not to be able to stay with these riders to get a result. This will have done the legs some good. Onwards now to the upcoming races.

Next up is the Tour of Bretagne which I'm very much looking forward to. The Race starts on 25th April and it's 7 tough stages with the highest level of U23s and conti riders in Europe competing.

Friday, 22 March 2019

Kicking off 2019 'bit late...'

Sorry guys it’s been far too long since I’ve kept you in the loop of what I’m up to. I’ll kick things off from the start of 2019 where I headed off to Girona to get some good consistent training in the bank to take into the rest of the season. I had a great time out there riding with a good group of lads and I had a fair bit off fun off the bike there too. On a rest day, I had a super cool day out in Barcelona looking round the Sagrada FamilaMassive thanks has to go to Sophie for putting up with me in Girona and making the stay ace. 

I got back to Wales in early February to what was a ‘mini heatwave’....well for the U.K. anyway. It was good to get training with the Wales Racing Academy boys once again with some grippy weekly group rides where Rob tested us, whatever the weather! So managed to continue some good quality training heading into the first few Nat B’s of the year. My legs were feeling good in these but I was a bit race rusty. 

Last weekend saw the Betty Pharaoh Memorial Road Race which had a stacked field of conti riders along with other strong guys. I was real chuffed to come away with 2nd place to Connor Swift, the current national road race champion,especially on local roads. 

I’m really looking forward to the rest of the season with the team as we’ve got great European race calendar that’s been put together. 

Promise I’ll keep the updates more frequent from now onwards into the race season.

Friday, 21 September 2018

End of Road Season round-up

Since the last blog I've been here, there and everywhere....

My last race in the UK was The Ryedale GP in Yorkshire. All the elements were thrown at us on this day - just atrocious conditions. I spent the majority of the day riding between the break and the bunch with good mate Reece Wood and Lawrence Carpenter. Reece and I were discussing in the race how  different this was to where we started our year together in Sunny Girona.! However, frustratingly we were reeled in by Canyon....I finished this race a little disappointed as my legs had felt good.

After a tough Training camp with the Academy and the Wales Juniors I headed to Pembrey to wish Phil Jones MBE and James Golding good luck as they set off on the first leg of the 'Tour of Britain 1 Day Ahead' Challenge. I was accompanied by my teammate Ranggar Roberts and Rob Partridge. It was good to support their cause and to be in Pembrey 1 day ahead of the Tour of Britain.

A week later, I headed out to the last race of the season - The Olympias Tour in The Netherlands. It was an International Race with 10 Nationalities competing including The Wales Racing Academy.

To be honest with you, I cant tell you too much about this race as I spent most of it chewing my bar tape in the ferocious crosswinds edging nearer and nearer to the gutter... The parkours didn't suit me personally but I was out there mostly to help support Rhys and Joe in the mental 'bunch kicks'. All in all, it was a successful race for the team with a rider in the top 20 in 5 out of 7 stages. For me personally, I was most pleased with my stage 5A result getting away with a select group and getting 13th on the stage. However, right at the back end of the race I came down with a cold so wasn't feeling 100% and ended up DNFing on the last stage. A bit of a downer to end the season on. This race although not suited to my dynamic as a rider, I took a fair few lessons from it to roll into 2019.

On that note, this is my 2018 road season finito. It's been a smooth year on the whole with only a few rough patches. I am very ready for a bit of 'down' time now before the build into next season.

I'd once again like to thank the Academy for the fantastic calendar they have provided us with. Also a big thanks has to go to Rob who has been Epic in getting me in shape and keeping me on track during the year.

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Geraint's homecoming/ Welsh Champs

I'm on track, actually getting the blogs out ahead of schedule for once!

Photo by Huw Fairclough
 Last week I was fortunate enough to be involved in the Geraint Thomas 'home coming'. This was pretty special and I was super happy about being approached to be part of the day. I didn't know what to expect with regards to turn-out as I wasn't sure how knowledgeable the general public would be about Geraint's Tour de France achievements. I was blown away by the 8000 odd people that showed up in Cardiff to welcome G home. It was nice to see how widely recognised G has made the sport of cycling in both Wales and the UK. From my position, personally, it's very inspirational and shows what's possible when you put the hard yards in. This was proven even more so after riding with G a few weeks prior to the Tour when he had to diet so hard whilst training in order to get down to the weight needed to ride the Tour. He wasn't even going in as the leader then; its just crazy to see the difference now. He's definitely the highest achieving Welsh Sportsman in my opinion.
Photo by Huw Fairclough
In other news, personally, I have been doing a fair few local TT's and the local Llandow circuit race. I am happy to keep up my 100% record at Llandow this season (be it only racing here twice....). These local races are just good for the confidence and the condition ahead of the last push to the end of this season with Rydale and The Olympias Tour on the horizon.

 On the weekend I raced the welsh championships up in mid-Wales with the Time Trial on Saturday and the Road Race on Sunday. Both days featured fairly rolling courses which I enjoyed. Thanks to Will Pring, the organizer and his team, for putting on these events as they provided great racing on both days. I was happy with my performance on Saturday in the TT coming away with 4th place behind some solid TT specialists. Big well done to George Evans winning convincingly. Then Sunday proved to be an exciting Road Race with plenty of attacks and groups getting up the road. Once again I was happy with my performance. With 2 laps remaining I bridged across to the winning move with Gruff Lewis. Then helped to wear the group down on the last climb to try to play to my strengths.
Photo by Gary Main
I attacked right at the end within the last 1km only to get caught on the line and pushed down to 3rd place (it needed a photo-finish to establish who had won 2nd.......).

 All in all, I'm really happy with my race and it bodes well once again for the remainder of the season.

I shall update you once again after the last few races are finished.

Monday, 6 August 2018

Summer roundup

I appreciate it's been a little while since the last update. There has been plenty of racing including crits, time trials and a few National Road series. To start off with, after the Belgium racing we headed back up to the north east of England yet again for the Tour of the Reservoir. This was a bit of a disappointing race for me. It had been one of my targets but just didn't go to plan with 2 crashes and still carrying fatigue from Belgium. I felt a bit 'down' after this race but my morale quickly improved when Rob told us he had managed to get us a ride in Omloop Het Neiwsblad - a cobbled classic! With my legs feeling a bit more recovered I managed to get round the pounding of the cobbles and a pretty hot race in 51st place. This race was just a great experience to be a part of, even though I'm not exactly suited to cobbles...
Omloop Het Niewsblad

Next up, the team had a couple of weeks of criterium racing. I enjoyed racing these a fair bit as I just like railing corners (but not necessarily the horrible repeated kicks out of them...). My favourite crit out of these was Abergavenny. I have been racing at the annual Abergavenny Crits since my Youth days and the Town knows how to put on a fantastic Event. It's always a great atmosphere and I superseded my expectations in this Crit bagging a top 25.
Stockton Crit

Abergavenny 2010...

Abergavenny 2014.... 
 Another race that I really enjoyed over the last month was the local Llandow where I was pretty happy to take home the win. It was good to get stuck into such a short aggressive race. Then after this, it was back up to the North East yet again for a bit of a bizarre/cut short Stockton GP. It was a good race however trying to support teammate, Will in getting 13th, his best National result.

In recent weeks we've all had a good solid block of training including Time Trials. I've been very happy taking a few wins in these. It's just a good morale boost. It's also been great to be able to get some solid hours in on some great home roads to set up the last part of the season. The biggest ride of which was an epic 200+km loop including most of South Wales most iconic climbs.

I'm now looking forward to the racing in the coming weeks with Welsh champs and Rydale on the Horizon.

Finally I can't not mention this really....but a massive congratulations has to go to Geraint Thomas for a phenomenal and truly inspiring performance in winning the Tour de France...…..