We started our racing at the weekend, with somewhat mixed results, but the highlight was certainly Cameron Jeffers fine sprint win on the Aintree Racecourse on Saturday, to take the 60th edition of the Eddie Soens Memorial. Having Simon Wilson take third spot on the podium showed that we have the strength across the team too. This event is the second oldest one-day race in the UK (beaten only by the Lincoln GP, founded in 1956) which places it in very high regard among the British racing community. Jack Rees tells you more in this update.
Meanwhile the other half of the team were in Holland, to take part in Sunday’s Dorpenomloop Rucphen, a tough UCI 1.2 race, part of a series called the Holland Cup. First run in 1974, the race has gathered an impressive list of winners with many now familiar names making their way in the top level and World Tour. The race took the riders through a typical Brabant landscape; flat and wooded with alternating wide and narrow roads. Read on to see Team DS Colin Sturgess’ views on how the team performed.
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Eddie Soens Memorial
By Jack Rees, Director of Operations
In the last post we were three quarters of the way through the training camp and it continued in the same vein on the Saturday, our final session, which was a 20 minute test – fairly typical for a lot of racing cyclists – that we wanted to include at the end of the camp to guage progress but also under a bit of prior fatigue.
It went really well, everyone was performing at or above the level we expected, so we were really encouraged by that.
We all left Spain at various points on the Sunday, which was good timing really as the weather was changing and a lot of rain had come in., but had a good run of weather on the camp which was great.
Once the riders were home the emphasis changed to purely recovery, at least for a few days, in the lead-up to the busy opening weekend, which promised the Eddie Soens Memorial at Aintree and the Dorpenomloop Rucphen in Brabant, Holland.
In the Soens there was a crosswind down the home and back straights which made life quite difficult, and for a good while early in the race it was pretty much all together.
About halfway through there was a break of eight riders which contained two of our guys – but no Saint Piran representation – and then we got another rider across with one Saint Piran rider, to make it 10 up front, but Saint Piran weren’t happy with that composition (three Ribble and only one of theirs) so they used a lot of energy at that mid-point to bring it all back under control and reduced the bunch down to about 50 riders – guys and girls.
And that’s basically how it stayed for the next 35k’s, moving into the final three or four laps.
We were up against it a little bit at the Soens with half the team away racing in Holland so there was only seven of us in the race, whereas we saw from the start sheet that Saint Piran were there with 15 riders. That, plus the nature of the race, being run as a handicap, meant it was a little hectic and a times a bit dangerous.
Our plan was to see how the race evolved but to lean on Saint Piran a little, for them to do the controlling and bringing back the moves which we could then capitalise on and potentially fire people up the road to give them something else to chase.
Then with three laps to go, Saint Piran set up their leadout for the final with nine guys, and for us it was our objective to be as disruptive for them as we could with our riders who we weren’t going to feature in the sprint whilst protecting the riders that we did want to take part in the gallop, keeping them out the wind and just trying to piggyback on the work the other teams were doing
Into the last lap, with around 30 guys still in the mix, we were sitting pretty in around 10th position, and with about 750m to go Will Brown took Simon Wilson and Cam up the bunch and dropped them off around 5th wheel, at the back of Saint Piran’s leadout.
As we came around that final turn, with about 500m to go, Simon went over the top of the Saint Piran leadout with Cam on his wheel and with only 150m to go dropped Cam off in clear air with about a bike length clear of everyone. Cam’s got a very strong sprint so it was almost a formality for him, a textbook finish really which we were delighted about, especially since Simon held on for third.
We’re going to go into every single bike race this year with the intention of winning, and to do that in the first race was fantastic.
Next up on Saturday we have Round One of the Scottish National Alba Men’s Road Race Series at Gifford in East Lothian, with a strong team including Fin, Stuart and Harry, and we’re looking to keep the momentum gong in the lead up to the Tour du Loir et Cher and the Rutland – Melton International CiCLE Classic.
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De Dorpenomloop Rucphen
By Colin Sturgess, DS
So as well as the Eddie Soens Memorial the weekend saw our first overseas race of the season. I took a selection of seven riders over to the Dorpenomloop Rucphen in Brabant in Holland, near Rosendal.
It’s a typical Dutch/Belgian race, almost a kermis, lots of ducking and diving, lots of changes of direction, it was windy, flat as a pancake, so a very hard race to open our account with.
In general – and there’s no other way of saying it, we had a lot crashes – I’m really disappointed for the guys because I’m sure we got have put someone on the podium if everything had gone well.
They came out of the training camp really well and in good spirits, and with Cam wining the Soens the day before everyone was really gee’d up for this.
Unfortunately we lost Red around 30k’s in, he had a really bad crash. We got him back up and going but he’d mashed his gears. He chased for a bit but it wasn’t happening, he had skinned himself up pretty badly, taken a fair bit of bark off his shoulder. So that was out first disappointment as we were looking to use him as our first man in the sprint.
Then about 50k’s later we lost Alex and Ollie in a crash. Poor Ollie came off worse, snapped his frame and unfortunately landing on someone else’s brake rotor, burning his leg, so that was another rider out.
Alex got up and chased, and we managed to get him up and running as best as possible. He’d sheared a brake lever off which actually made things very difficult but full credit to him,