Junior Tour of Wales Report

Following a slightly under par performance at the tour of mendips I was keen to go better in the junior tour of wales the following weekend. The race began with a short 8km time trial, which was uphill, on the far side of the infamous tumble climb that has characterised this race for a long period of time. This course suited me a bit better than the flat, technical circuit of Odd Down. However, despite doing a good performance for myself, it was only good enough for the 27th fastest time. Not where I had wanted to be after this stage, but I could take something from being in the top 6 fastest riders on the steep finish climb to the line, also earning me a point in the kom classification.

Sprinting to 4th on Stage 2

The 2nd day saw the introduction of a new stage, which was a hilly day through Powys with a summit finish on The black mountain. This was a day that a rider like me had marked before the race, with an eye on a potential stage win. There were also lots of points on offer for the KOM classification, with 3 cat 2 climbs and the cat 1 finish. I had one eye on taking a few points if I could, whilst keeping my powder relatively dry for the final.
At the top of the day, there was a big fight to be in the breakaway, but I thought the win would come from the bunch, given the amount of wide, fast roads on the race route. Just before the first categorised climb of the day, a small group had started to break clear. I went with this move, sat on the group, to try and get the points before going back to the bunch. However, the big names in the bunch were also interested in the points and I had to go a little harder than anticipated to take the points ahead of riders like Josh Tarling and Noah Hobbs.
A group of 8 established itself after 25k, but they would never take more than a minutes advantage on the peloton, dangling out there for much of the day. 2 riders, including teammate Mark Lightfoot, bridged across to make it 10 with just over an hour remaining in the stage. 20k later, attacks had started to fly from the front of the bunch, just before a gentle winding descent, a perfect road to breakaway on. Riders chipped off in ones and twos, so I knew that this could be dangerous. I went clear with another rider, and once the ones and twos had come together, I found myself in a 10 man group. We managed to get up to the front of the race over the next 20k, arriving around 10k before the foot of the finish climb, making there 20 riders in the front.
By the final kilometre, there were 6 of us left in contention for the stage win, with the bunch now almost 3 minutes behind. Noah Hobbs led the sprint from the front, winning, whilst I came in 5 seconds down in 4th, narrowly missing out on a podium spot. I was happy with this performance, but at the same time it was gutting to get so close and miss out on the stage win.
However, this result saw me gain 23 places on gc, and earnt me a stage in the KOM jersey at the infamous Pembrey Country Park circuit, so I was very pleased with my result.

Wearing the KOM jersey on stage 3

Stages 3 and 4 are relatively flat, which is not my forte, so I knew it would be a day of suffering and hanging on to what I could on the GC. Stage 3 at Pembrey is known for crashes and incidents, so being in the front is necessary for this race. I safely navigated the 25 laps of the mile long circuit, seeing me drop one place in the overall, albeit to TT world champion Josh Tarling, so I wasn’t too put out. I also was no longer wearing the KOM jersey come the afternoon, but winning that classification wasn’t on my list of aims directly.
Stage 4 starts with a big climb away from the sea, before dropping onto a fairly flat and straightforward circuit, and would be almost exactly 100km. Unfortunately, on a fast main road in the first 20 minutes, there was a crash involving a lot of riders, almost a third of the bunch. This is one of the biggest drawbacks of racing on open roads, that avoiding crashes becomes harder as the bunch is only spread across one lane of traffic, and although this is only the 3rd crash I’ve seen on open roads, I do feel that in open-road races, coming off is a lot more dangerous. There is also a risk of riders crashing into the other lane or trying to avoid one and crossing the white line, to be greeted by an oncoming car, although fortunately I have never seen this. Due to the sheer number of different groups of riders spread across the course, and the lack of medical cover, the race had to be stopped, and neutralised to allow the peloton to get to the circuit safely and the riders requiring hospital attention could receive it.
Therefore, the race was essentially now a 50km kermesse race, and would be seriously fast. Upon restarting, attacks flew, with a mixture of gc threats and stage hunters. Eventually, the right combination went, a group of roughly 15 went away. This group would take the stage, causing the gc to be shuffled around once more before the tumble summit finish.

Scraping to the top of The Tumble on Stage 5

The last day started fast, as the race begun on a downhill dual carriageway, but the first 90k of the race was relatively easy in the wheels. Although the course was rolling, a plethora of fast descents made sure that the bunch stuck together for most of the day. Once the race was within 15k of the tumble, the attacks started to fly, and it was like the start of the stage once again, only this time groups were allowed to go. Myself and two teammates launched clear as part of a group of 6, around 10k from the bottom of the final climb, and we were joined at the front later to make a lead group of 10-15 riders with 5k to go. Once we were on the climb, the group was blown apart by natural selection, with everyone wanting to ride their own tempo on the fearsome 10% gradients. I paced my effort well, and was riding in 4th place for much of the climb, but I was overhauled by a trio from the bunch 100m from the line, putting me in 7th place on the day, and 7th on the final GC.

I also want to say a massive thank you to Pedal Potential for supporting me this year, as they have been a huge help in enabling me to race on the continent this year, gain invaluable experiences and some results I can be proud of.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: