It finally felt like spring had sprung on Saturday in beautiful East Lothian in the town of Gifford. The Ribble Weldtite team headed north to race in Round One of the Scottish National Alba Men’s Road Race Series, and as well as the sunshine the guys enjoyed the race – and the result.
At the same time, the team sent a squad to the Peaks Two-Day event in South Yorkshire, with more remarkable performances.
Jack Rees tells us about the races, from both his perspective as team Director of Operations and as a rider.
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Gifford Road Race
By Jack Rees, Director of Operations
It’s really important for us this year to win frequently, for the team but for our partners as well and as they say, “success breeds success” so the mood in the team is definitely high at the moment, everyone is super-motivated and I think that’s reflected in the performances.
At Gifford the team was a little depleted because Stuart Balfour and Harry Tanfield had slight colds from the travelling after the training camp and last week’s racing so those two took precautions, didn’t take the start and had an easy day instead.
That left five of us for the race with Finn Crocket as our nominated leader, and our approach was to be more reactive early on, particularly since the first hour was very fast. There were a few breaks going but nothing really stuck at more than about 20 seconds ahead.
Around halfway a number of smaller groups got clear, we had a rider in each one so when they formed into one large group off the front it meant we had three riders (Finn, Tom Timothy and Will Brown) in the lead group of twelve, with no other team having more representation, so that was pretty good for us.
It stayed like that for a few laps, with the gap increasing, and then by lap seven (of a total of nine) and a fair bit of attrition, a chase group of 10 was next on the road.
Richard Jones and I were in there but we weren’t doing a lot to help get up to the lead group, and that wasn’t going to happen anyway.
It’s a tough little circuit at Gifford, undulating roads and it was quite windy too, so it wears you down, but maybe thanks to our preparations this season we had a bit more strength in depth than some of the other guys in the race.
With a lap and a half to go Tom managed to clip off the front of the break into the headwind with James Jobber (Kuwait Pro Cycling Team).
We were aware of James, he’s done a lot of racing in Asia over the winter, he’s going to the Tour of Thailand next week and so we knew he was one to watch.
Finn got up to Tom and James on the drag up to the finish line with one lap to go, and those three worked well together, getting a gap of about 45 seconds on the front group before Finn hit out into the headwind again with half a lap to go and gapped James and Tom and he soloed to the win, with Tom crossing the line in third.
We were really pleased with that result, with Finn’s win of course but also with Tom’s solid performance.
Tom’s not one of our ‘main’ riders, his role is usually to work in support of the team doing a lot of the background work (he’s actually our General Manager), along with myself and Colin Sturgess, our no.1 DS, so that shows we have a lot of depth to our squad.
The Scottish National Alba Road Race Series is important to us and we put a lot of emphasis on it. We’re going to be riding the Drummond Trophy on the 24th April and the Hugh Dornan Memorial on May 22nd, they’re quite good races for us.
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We also had a four-man team riding at the Peaks Two-Day, a new event on the calendar for 2022 which consisted of a 12km time trial followed by two road stages of 87km and 104km.
Our man Zeb Kyffin was third in the time trial on Saturday, then in the afternoon in the hilly road stage around the same circuit as the TT Zeb got away in the first lap with a couple of others. They quickly established a lead of over a minute over the main bunch, were joined by six others for a while, until the last lap where Zeb and two others sprinted for the stage with the finish at the top of Bole Hill, and Zeb won the stage, going into the lead on GC.
It was a good performance too by the others, last week’s Eddie Soens Memorial winner Cam Jeffers, Ross Lamb and Alex Peters, all supporting Zeb in winning the stage.
Going into the third stage on day two, 104km in length, Zeb held the leader’s jersey but over a savage 10km course on the outskirts of Sheffield that skirted the northern edges of the Damflask Reservoir and had over 250m of elevation per lap, the race ultimately proved too difficult for the team to control and it split to pieces.
The stage winner George Peden (PB Performance) rode a brilliant race and claimed the overall victory, with Alex Peters a superb 3rd on the stage and on GC too.
Zeb was 6th on the stage and slipped to 4th overall. He was disappointed not to retain the overall lead but we took plenty of positives from the race, not least Alex’s podium spot and Zeb’s victory on Stage two.