Recently, I was lucky enough to be selected to ride for Great Britain at the World Road Race Championships in Bergen. It was a great experience, this post I am going to go through what I got up to each day I was in Norway.
Wednesday: This was predominately a travel day, the only main drama happened at security control. Stupidly, I left two multi-tools in my bag, luckily they weren’t to harsh but I did, however, loose one of my favourite tools. The flight went fairly quickly and I touched down to meet fellow team mates, coaches and the standard Norwegian rain. We headed straight for lunch and sitting across the room was Chris Froome eating a mound of rice but nothing else. After lunch was out of the way, me and Ethan Hayter went for spin to shake out the legs. After taking every wrong turn possible we eventually found our bearings. We ended up connecting onto the course for the men’s TT and saw a couple of the favourites come through. We span back to base and at least my legs were feeling fresh, I couldn’t say the same for the rest of me as I was soaking wet!
Thursday: Thursday was a bit more of a hectic day. It started with a course recce at 10:30 with the women’s and U23 men’s teams and Tao from Team Sky. We span out fairly steady then took on two laps of the course. The course was pretty grippy without much let up. It started and went up through a tunnel then after about 2k there was about 700 metres at 10% followed by steep downhill then a sharp off camber hairpin. From there it started to kick up and there was nowhere to ease off the pedals. It was really draggy for about 2k before you took a sharp left and onto Salmon Hill. It was 1.4k at 8.5% average and its fair to say it was pretty nasty. I rode up it on James Shaw’s wheel (a Lotto Soudal pro). He was setting a pretty hard tempo so I was hitting into the red but it gave me a good feel for the climb. The climb was followed by a sharp technical descent for 1.5K and then onto another 1K of slight downhill in which I was spinning out like mad. You then hit a drag uphill (where the feed station would be situated), before another fast twisty downhill section. Then was the cobbled sector with 5k to go which had a slight kicker at the start and end. It was slightly downhill into a sharp left hander with 3k to go and fast and twisty coming into the finish. There was a sharp chicane with 500m to go which opened up with 300m to go but into a nasty head wind. We headed back after completing another lap, as you can imagine it was pissing it down again. This was then followed by a talk from the UCI governing body in the evening. It went through things like training, nutrition and doping, as well as a quiz. Some big names helped give advice, including Anna Van Derbreggen, Annamiek Van Vluten and Bob Jungels. This was a really helpful talk and it was a bonus to get a free goodie bag!
Friday: We had an easy spin to do of one hour. We were out with the women and Tao again but this time being followed by Rod Ellingworth, the Team Sky coach. We headed out and after about 20 minutes we hit what we were told was 1.5km climb. It actually turned out to be about triple that length. Never the less we rode up it as easy as possible then descended down the other side only to find out we were going back the way we had just came. There was another long climb and descent before I put in three 10 second sprints to open up the legs. Then we span back to the hotel and chilled for the remainder of the day, watching the junior girls and U23 men’s race on TV.
Saturday: Today was race day. It was an early start, we had to be up at 6am (5am UK time). For breakfast I had 8 Weetabix (2 more than the usual 6 as it was going to be the biggest race of my life so far) followed by some scrambled eggs on toast. We headed out at 7, but then doping control turned up and wanted to test Tom Pidcock. After this, we headed out onto the Team Sky bus (‘Death Star’ from Star Wars) which was lent to us. This was a really amazing experience for us. On the way we got to see what the first 40k would be like. It was fairly flat with some rolling parts. We turned up and chilled for a bit before getting changed. We then went to sign on and it started to piss it down. After going up onto the stage for the team presentation we headed back and had a little spin on the turbo trainers. We rode to the start line and went off for a short neutralised section then it was full gas. During the first 10k there was three bridges which only had one barrier either side, then a 50 metre drop into the sea, luckily the only thing I got wet from was the rain! Shortly after that the rain stopped and the sun showed his face for the first time in about 200 days. After about 5k I had managed to squeeze my way up to front, me and Mark had been set the task of covering all the earlier moves. I managed to cover for the first 25k before Mark got away in a break and went clear of the peloton. The breakaway built a healthy advantage of just over a minute and I stayed present at the front of the race, just in case any dangerous moves went to try and bridge across. Shortly after, we hit the course which consisted of almost 5 laps. The 1st lap it was a fairly controlled pace up the climb and for the remainder of the lap. On the second lap it started to kick off and more people started to try and get away. We hit the Salmon Hill and there was a massive pile up and the pace increased on the front but luckily I had just got through it and held onto the leaders. Slowly the riders who had been held up all gradually got back on, we came through the finish with 3 laps to go and I saw my brother so chucked a bottle and tried to hit him (only joking). The pace was really starting to set in and the third time up Salmon Hill I was suffering but holding towards the front of the peloton. I stayed in the front group as it was whittling down. I was suffering for another one and a bit laps. When we hit Salmon Hill for the penultimate time I gave it everything and just held onto the back of the group as more riders got dispatched. There wasn’t any let up and it was strung out for the remainder of the lap until bell sounded with 1 to go. The peloton then started to ease and I made a move around the outside to move up towards the front. I knew I just had to make myself suffer on the final lap and my legs were burning up Salmon Hill but I just kept fighting the fatigue. Unfortunately, the riders just in front of me got dropped leaving me with a gap to try and close. There was about 6 of us riding and spinning as hard as we could and we just got onto touching distance with the peloton with 6k to go. I slowly started moving back up towards the front. With 3k to go I hit one wheel from the front. Mine and Tom’s job was now to lead out Jake Stewart for the finish. I hit the front with 2.5k to go and just went as deep as I could. I started to have riders coming over the top but as we caught the remainder of the breakaway (apart from two riders) so I just gave it everything until 500metres to go where I swung off and handed over to Tom. Jake came home 5th so the lead out had paid off. I was absolutely hammered and after a refreshing Coke, we headed back to the Sky bus and reflected on the day. I was fairly happy after a long tough season I had kept with the front group and carried out my job for the team. I was gutted to not be able to go for a result myself but happy I managed to help the team. Also well done to Mark, for smashing it out front all day.
It was a great end to my time as a junior and I want to thank British Cycling for the opportunity. Also a massive thanks to my club VC Londres and my sponsors: Boardman Bikes, Specialized UK, Trainsharp, Pedal Potential, Galibier, Rule 28 and TenEighty.