August so far...

Sunday 20 August

We’ve been pretty quiet on the posting front lately so we thought we’d give you an update on what we’ve been up to so far in August…

The month began with the High on Bikes Clieves Hill RR on Sunday 6th. It was Dan, Elliot and Michael who took to the start line near Ormskirk.

Dan got himself in the early break that built up a significant advantage over the peloton. However, after a mid-season break, Dan wasn’t quite back to full fitness and was unable to keep with the pace of the leaders. Further misfortune befell Michael who started to experience back pain and was forced to withdraw.

This left Elliot to fight it out in the battle up the brutal climb to the line. After a tough week of training, his legs didn’t quite deliver the goods, but it was nevertheless a good race on one of the toughest circuit in the North West.

On Friday 11th, Elliot flew out to Tromso in Norway to represent the North West region in the Arctic Race of Norway Heroes of Tomorrow race. This was a tremendous honour for Elliot and a very proud moment for the Team.

After settling in Friday, the team embarked on a course recon on Saturday afternoon, followed by the team presentation on Saturday evening with none other than former World Champion, and Norwegian national hero, Thor Hushovd.

The race itself took place on Sunday, using the same circuit as the professional race would finish on later in the day. The course was set to make for a tough race, with lots of short but sharp ascents, and technical corners leading up to the finishing straight.

Elliot said, “It was definitely one of the best races I’ve ever done. The atmosphere and everything was so cool.

“Two Norwegians broke away early on, one of them was the National Champ. They got a big gap really quick – they clearly knew the course well!

“For me it was more a case of staying as close to the front as I could, but also staying safe. I knew that no one else was going to get away so it was going to be a bunch sprint for us.

“The last lap was pretty sketchy but I managed to sprint pretty well to get 28th, which I’m pleased with because it was a strong international field and the course itself wasn’t best suited to my strengths.

“I want to say thank you to Tom Leivers and the North West region board for the amazing opportunity!”

Also on Sunday 13th, Ash and Dan were in Scarborough in Yorkshire for the penultimate round of the Junior National Series. With the legendary hill to conquer, and another strong field, our duo had a lot to tackle. Here’s Ash’s account of the race…

“The race got off to quite a brisk start, but I managed to make it to the front of the bunch within a few kilometres, so I managed to stay clear of the early crashes.

“The descent was absolutely mental with the hairpin at the bottom. We were flying down there every lap at some crazy speed – pushing 70kmh I think.

“The climb was brutal, worse than I remember! I was definitely feeling it in the legs after 12 ascents but I managed to keep some sort of rhythm. I rode hard all race and came away with 20th from the bunch kick, which I’m pretty chuffed with as a first year.

“Big thanks to Dan for his efforts in helping me throughout the race, I really appreciate it. All in all, a brutal day out but a good result in the end!”

On Thursday 17th, we were down at the UCLan Arena for the final round of the Lewis Balyckyi Crit Series.

Friend of the team Frazer Hatch, who comes from a motorsport background, has recently started cycling to keep up his fitness and we have now managed to convince him to give racing a go. Emblazoned in our 2016 kit, and riding Sam’s old road bike, Frazer took to the start line of the 3/4 race on Thursday for only the third time. He rode a great race to stay with the bunch – something he’s not done before – and then sprint to get 10th place! Awesome stuff, Frazer!

Sam also put in a great performance in the E/1/2/3 race to bag 7th place in the sprint. Sam has seen his year pretty much wiped out by illness and it’s great to see him getting his mojo back!

On Saturday 19th, Ash took to the start line for the Yorkshire Junior RR Champs. Unfortunately he crashed mid-race and, despite his best efforts, he couldn’t quite catch the leaders, finishing in 8th place. A valiant ride, Ash!

Sunday 20th saw us head up to Calthwaite in Cumbria for the North West Junior RR Champs. George recounts the race…

“The race set off on the pretty flat, rolling course and it was very windy which made for a boring first lap.

“Then a temporary break went with Michael, later followed by Elliot, whilst I covered any moves back in the bunch. It was brought back after about half a lap and then shortly after the main break of the day got away with the current NW road champ George Wharton.

“The three of us got a chaingang going which originally started off with most of the riders but, as we went on, riders started to drop off and others chose to miss turns and sit in. So it was left to us three and Ben Barlow, a strong rider from Kendal, to pull it back.

“We timed it to perfection catching them with half a lap to go and letting them hang out to dry. It was then every man for themselves coming into the finish but nothing got away and it was a bunch sprint up the short finishing climb.

“There was a nasty crash on the last bend, which Elliot was caught up in. I went from about 200m to go and was leading up until 100m but with the strong headwind it was too much too soon and a few riders, including Michael, came past me. Michael took the bronze and I was just behind him in fourth.

“It wasn’t the result we came for but we have to be glad with how we rode as a team. And Elliot has come away from the crash missing a lot of skin but luckily no broken bones and no broken bike parts, so that’s a relief! Heal soon, Elliot!”

Photos: Ellen Isherwood, Alex Reed, Francesca Counsell and Tom Leivers