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Off the mark and on the scoreboard - Le Tour de Kent

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What a weekend. A few days ago we headed to Kent to ride a race that in all honesty we probably should have won (on paper at least). The thing is as a team this year we have been on a pretty steep learning curve on finding out how to race with each other in an effective way, plus bunch racing isn't as straight forward as rocking up to the start line and riding hard*. In the last couple of weeks it's really been coming together, culminating in a textbook set of results over the weekend in the inaugural Tour of Kent.

The first two stages were held at Fowlmead country park near Deal on the Kentish coast. It was very windy and ridden on super smooth purpose built closed circuits. The first stage was an approximately 10 mile time trial encompassing 5 laps of the park. it went OK but I think we weren't really warmed up enough, I managed to come second and Wojciech was 6th. On the plus side Dave Hayward managed to take a perfect photo of the type I was trying (and failing) to take at the Newton TT the other week:

Yes. I know. I look awesome. And the motorcyclist is taking a cheeky pee.

Stage 2 was held on a shorter circuit on Saturday afternoon, a large break of around 15 managed to form with Mark, Wojciech and secret CUCC team mate Toby Parnell. Just as they were deciding whether to contribute to the pace setting or not I managed to zip across to it with Nick Hutchings (the winner of the TT). Then the gap opened and the peloton let us go. There were two intermediate sprints with large time bonuses available (something I wasn't particularly happy about as a non sprinter), after the second of these came and went Wojciech saw his moment and attacked. He dangled off the front for a while, the group hesitated and he yoyoed in and out of sight. With 3 laps to go Woj dissappeared and lapped the peloton to win by around 25 seconds on the break and taking a 30 second bonus to boot. Unfortunately this only got him in to second on GC as Martin Smith from Primal Europe took enough bonuses during the race.

Woj soloing to victory:

Sunday was the GC stage, it was on a lumpy circuit near Lamberhurst. Rowan managed to slip in to the early break with 3 others, including WyndyMilla rider Alex Higham, putting a nice dampener on the time bonuses. The circuit was 20k long, with 2 of the 6 laps to go Wojciech and I (with help from our team mates, A Ray in particular) had whittled a break down to just one GC threat: Nick Hutchings. As we approached 20k to go Rowan's break was in sight, I attacked and nipped across the gap and started to TT. Alex Higham and Rowan hung on to my wheel whilst I TT'ed the final 20k to the finish. Alex sportingly didn't contest the win so I got to TT to the finish and maximise the time gap on GC. As it happened the gap was so large that he rode into 2nd place anyway, Rowan was 3rd on the stage and Wojciech dropped a sadly exposed Nick Hutchings to come 4th, moving to 3rd on GC.

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With a healthy lead on GC and a flat course on Monday it was time to control the race and secure the win - boring (pro) style. We also had A Ray in mind for a sprint victory, it started like the previous day with a breakaway to put a cap on the time bonuses. It was Mark Holt's turn to do a ride - he managed to leap frog a few spots in to the top 20 on GC by getting in to an all day breakaway with a handful of others. With so many riders on the team with goals we had spread ourselves rather thin, making it difficult for Daniele and Rowan to keep things under control. We managed to keep the gap between 2 and 3 minutes for the first half of the race before another team decided to try and bring it back. They brought the gap to about a minute before more riders contributed to the chase. With around 1 lap (10k) to go we had a 30 second gap to close which we managed to reel in just at the right moment. A Ray sharpened his elbows for the sprint and launched himself with 200 to go to take the win.

Our accommodation for the weekend was supplied by our 'Accomodation sponsor' Jen. We actually stayed in some static caravans normally occupied by Bulgarian and Romanian fruit pickers on a farm near Maidstone, it was a novel but enjoyable experience.

I should also thank Dave Cartright for generously lending us his van to get all the TT and road bikes to Kent for the weekend at the last minute.

In other news we shall be racing against Ricardo Ricco and Michael Rasmussen in the tour of Serbia in a few days, in the mean time we shall be heading to Belgium this weekend to do a UCI with a hilarious name.

Oh yeah, and I finally got my elite license back! This time by getting all the points instead of just asking BC nicely for one, I'm quite chuffed since I don't exactly go around point hunting , plus I've been busy doing difficult races as well this year.

* That's what time trialling is for.
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Updated 02-06-2011 at 07:51 AM by David Mclean

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