What a nice way to spend a Thursday afternoon, chasing Zeb Kyffin around the beautiful, sun-drenched parcours beside the Solway Firth at the British Time Trial Championships, won by Ethan Hayter…
Slight change if you don’t mind?
Can you please hop in with Jake Tipper at 13:50?’
It’s a message from Colin Sturgess, Ribble Weldtite DS and former World Professional Pursuit Champion, I’d been looking forward to his chat in the Ribble Weldtite team car but I know better than argue.
I track down a stressed Jake; ‘the black Honda!’
I’ve interviewed Jake in the past, he’s a former British Team Pursuit champion and winner of stages in the Tour of Morocco and Qinghai Lake – but today he’s in DS mode.
I’m trying to remember that last time I followed a rider in a Time Trial – Bradley Wiggins through the grubby back streets of Milano in the Giro’s closing time trial, with Martin at the Tour watching Michael Mørkøv blast those 52km to Chartres or that time we followed Charly Wegelius through the glorious vineyards of Champagne?
My buddy Davie Henderson and I were there early to see the u23 race and had plenty time to mooch around and look at the Elite bikes.
James Shaw time tests well for a climber and like most, if it’s not a hilly or mountain job, rides a single ring, a BiG one, it’s not so much about giving a mega gear, it’s about enabling you to ride with chain nearer the centre of the cassette to give a better chain line and big rings coupled with over-size derailleur rollers minimise drive train losses.
The lovely Pinarello of Ethan Hayter left us in no doubt as to who is the reigning Campione; the huge bike in the background belongs to Ben Turner, that’s him on the left, a young man who stormed into the Classics head first back in the spring.
We had a little time at the start house before my Ribble Rendezvous, first man to face the timekeeper was Scotland’s Cameron Richardson who sat in the start house quietly considering the job to be done.
And there was our boy Zeb’s weapon – complete with big ring and super cool Ceramic Speed derailleur rollers.
His clinchers were latex tubed front and tubeless rear.
Jake manoeuvres the black Honda into position, number 333, Zeb heaves the big one round off the start line and we’re away.
It’s a while since I’ve felt this content.
Sad, I know.
The parcours isn’t technical, just a couple of wiggly bits at the start and finish, a chicane in the middle and a couple of drags – my Ribble eBike would like this circuit.
Jake doesn’t go over the score with instructions on the radio; ‘keep your head down, stay aero,’ – ‘stay on that smooth section of the tarmac.’
Zeb is stroking the gear round nicely on a rare day of glorious weather in Scotland.
But what’s that’s this, a car coming up on us?
‘I’m trying not to be picky but can you keep 10 metres behind your rider – that’s about two car lengths,’ the commissaire tells us.
Ever since INEOS followed Ganna with a car over stuffed with bikes on the roof to improve the ‘bow wave’ effect of the team vehicle, the ‘powers that be’ have clamped down on following riders too closely with the car in time trials.
Jake backs off – a little.
The course is pan-flat now, running parallel to the reed beds along the beautiful Solway Firth.
The road is straight so Jake’s instructions remain the same – keeping aero and finding the smoothest surface.
The road snaps up as we come round to complete the first of two 22 kilometre circuits, Zeb is out of the saddle to maintain momentum before the ‘twisty bits’ to the line.
We don’t have Alpe d’Huez crowds roadside but there are pockets of spectators around the course enjoying the sun as Zeb stays of the ‘skis’ to negotiate the corners.
On lap one the riders go to the left of the impressive Crichton Church whilst on lap two they go right to the line.
QuickStep’s Ethan Vernon contrived to go the wrong way on lap one and whilst he completed his second lap wasn’t classified as a finisher.