A riders view by Thomas Key - Primera-TeamJobs
It was cold, it was fast, it was tough, but thankfully short too and I got round.
In case you missed it last Sunday I raced the Perfs Pedal, the season opening national road race that takes place on Portsdown Hill, just outside of Portsmouth. I distinctly remember perhaps 3 years ago when I was really getting into racing, that this race was the true litmus test for all us riders in the south. Get round Perfs in the bunch and don’t get dropped, and you can call yourself a proper cyclist.
It felt absolutely amazing to be turning up for once however, not by myself or with a lone team mate, but with a team of 5 of us from Primera-Teamjobs, all focussed and ambitious about the race. We knew if we played our cards just right, a goood result could be on the cards. There was one slight problem though, the 6 strong riders from BIKE channel-Canyon that were also racing, keen to impress on their first outing for Britain’s newest continental ranked team.
Everyone knew that they were going to go hard up the first climb, trying to force a split early on in the race. However, it’s one thing knowing they’re going to do it and a complete other beast to be able to do anything about it. Up Boarhunt hill, only about 5km in to the race they had 6 on the front, drilling it at 20+mph up the slope that touches 10% at its steepest. I felt okay, it was a hard pace but not unbelievable. I knew I had to stay in touch though if I had any chance of giving a helping hand to our leader, Matt Downie, to make the split and get in the move of the day. The climb itself is not too hard, but going over the top, the pace was still ferocious and we turned into a long head crosswind section that completely ripped the field to shreds. I was too far back, having to close gaps that were opening up just to stay in contact. After a hard 10 minutes of racing it finally settled down, with a group of 12 or so out front (which unfortunately Matt had just missed by a matter of meters) and about 40 of us left in a decimated bunch.
Over the rest of the race, I had to take a bit of recovery, but on the 4th and 5th laps tried to lend a helping hand to Matt to instigate a couple of moves to try and form a second chasing group. However the bunch was in no mood for letting us go and we had to, in the end, settle with finishing in the bunch. Ed, still just 17, was our best placed finisher, with a wicked kick at the end to take home 21st, with me and Matt rolling in 40th and 35th respectively.
So, enough of the race report, what did I take away from my first experience of racing the big boys for the new team?
1. The teams strong and ready to take it to everyone in 2017.
We didn’t quite get what we wanted out of Perfs, we were secretly hoping for a bit of an upset, but it’s just one race, on one day, in February. There’s plenty more to come and as a team we rode strongly. It was great to be a part of and has really upped the motivation reserves for getting stuck in to the races to come.
2. I’ve managed to improve my climbing!
I felt pretty at home when the road went up. Fairly obvious really, seeing as I’m hitting the season at 74kg, not the 83kg I was this time last year, and have been working hard on short punchy type efforts with my coach at Bikestrong UK. I’m under no illusion I am now suddenly Chris Froome, but its a positive step forward.
3. The quailty of riders is only improving
I was massively surprised to look round on about the 3rd lap and realise there were still 40-50 of us in the bunch. The racing had been super hard and it justshows that there is some real quality in depth now of riders in thehad 3 riders in there, but there were also a number of riders from Morvelo, Latchem-Sunwise, Venta and Sotonia. A credit to these teams and clubs in the regionand a positive sign of things to come.
4. I need to keep working on my tactical awareness
I was caught out on the first lap, a bit too far back and on the wrong side of the bunch in terms of the wind. Its small things like this that add up and meant that I didnt quite contribute as much as I could to the race.
Overall however, the race was fun, a great experience and has me raring to go again. Next week see’s a road bike TT on a similar course, which should be a similarly lung busting experience, then its on to a couple of circuit races and building back up for the Betty Pharoah road race in South Wales on 12 March. I can’t wait to show evveryone what I’m capable of!
A big thanks to the team for showing faith in me this year and having me on board. I couldn’t have asked for better sponsors or a better bunch of guys to be racing with. Some real positive vibes for 2017 and I think a lot of wins are going to be taken by us!
Over and out