Jean-Pierre Drucker produced the sprint of his life to win the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic today beating Britain’s Ben Swift and Dutchman Mike Teunissen on The Mall in central London to claim the first victory of his professional career.
The 28-year-old was part of an eight-strong group of cyclists that burst clear of the peloton with a quarter of the 200-kilometre race to go before four riders hared up Whitehall and under Admiralty Arch in pursuit of glory.
Swift led them up The Mall with the Finish Line in sight and Buckingham Palace visible in the distance, the Team Sky sprinter desperate to make amends for last year when he lost by a hair’s width to Adam Blythe.
But Drucker had been tailing him home and the Luxembourg rider launched his attack with 50 metres to go, surprising the Briton and Lotto NL-Jumbo’s Teunissen to take a hard-earned victory built on brilliant teamwork by his experienced BMC Racing Team.
Drucker threw his arm in the air as he crossed the line to thunderous roars, a huge grin breaking out on his bearded face.
“To get my first professional win in front of Buckingham Palace is so special,” said Drucker. “The crowd here is so crazy about cycling, it’s fantastic to get my first win here.
“I love racing in England. I did the Tour of Yorkshire this year and that was fantastic too. After getting my first pro win here, I love it even more.”
Swift broke his shoulder in the Yorkshire race but fought his way back from surgery to bid for victory in this event, still smarting from last year’s defeat. He led the three medallists in a hard chase along Millbank to reel in Teunissen’s team-mate Sep Vanmarcke, who had made a lone bid for victory 12km out.
Once they’d overpowered the Belgian, all the smart money was on the Sheffield man, a renowned finishing kicker. But Drucker had finished just behind ‘Manx missile’ Mark Cavendish in California earlier this year and was confident of his chances.
“I was feeling good all day and at the end I just kept my eye on Swift,” said Drucker. “I could see he was very motivated and really wanted victory in front of his own crowd. I knew he would go for the win, but I worked hard as well.
“I’m a fast guy too and I just tried not to make any mistakes. I love it when it’s hard and that was our plan. We tried to make it a hard race by moving guys to the front. It always feels so good when a plan works out.”
As for Swift, in the end he was happy enough to make the podium for the second year in a row after missing three months’ training, although he admitted to miscalculating his finish.
“I had to go really hard in the last few kilometres and I started to cramp up a little bit from the effort of chasing,” said Swift. “Even though I’d have loved to have won, I’m really, really happy.
“I had three months out of competition so this is a really nice way to come back to racing and get a good result straight away. It was good to be on the podium.
“I couldn’t see any metres-to-go boards so I got caught on the front, trying to get the others to come round me, but you could see the guys coming from behind so you couldn’t play too much cat-and-mouse.”
As for Cavendish, the much-fancied Briton was missing his key lead-out man Mark Renshaw and was not at his best after a week-long illness following the Tour de France. It quickly became clear that he wasn’t going to save himself for a final sprint as he spearheaded not one, but two attacks during the race, and coasted home 44th.
In fact, Cavendish was barely out of the camera lens in the early stages as he could be seen chatting with Britain’s other big-name star Sir Bradley Wiggins as the field of 143 riders rolled off the red carpet and away from the signing-on point at Horse Guards Parade, and he was among a group of four in a mini-break shortly after the peloton passed over Hampton Court Bridge.
The Briton was soon at the back of the race, however, where he stopped to receive mechanical attention to the front of his bike, leaving him briefly off the pace.
Madison Genesis rider Erick Rowsell, brother of Olympic gold medallist and RideLondon-Surrey 100 rider Joanna, was among a group of five who then escaped as the peloton rattled through Byfleet to Ripley and on to the sun-splashed Surrey countryside.
Another Briton, Peter Williams of One Pro Cycling, was also in the breakaway, along with the young Italian Riccardo Stacchiotti of Vini Fantini, Topspot Vlaanderen’s Sander Helven, and Lander Seynaeve of Wanty-Group Gobert.
They opened a gap of five minutes with just over a quarter of the race gone and stayed away over the first four of the event’s five categorised climbs up Leith Hill and over Ranmore Common three times.
Rowsell, from Sutton, was racing in his own backyard and the Surrey man used his local knowledge to lead up the narrow lanes and over the summits, amassing points for the King of the Mountains competition, while Williams concentrated on securing the sprint title, out-battling Stacchiotti for the honour.
BMC sent their young Dutch stagiaire Floris Gerts up the road to try and bridge the gap, and by the time they’d completed the three Ranmore loops, he had replaced Seynaeve among the leaders. The peloton broke up on the third Ranmore climb, and Lotto NL-Jumbo charged out to reel them in like a pack of wolves hunting down their prey.
Seven men reached the base of Box Hill with just over 50km to go. But their time alone was numbered and Gerts’s team-mates Philippe Gilbert and Rohan Dennis emerged from the pack for the first time to lead the chase up the slopes, driving on at the top in an attempt to leave the race sprinters in their wake.
With an hour’s racing still to go, it was now a case of heads down for the city. Cavendish briefly launched himself out in front with Dennis, then eight burst clear to open a gap that grew to more than a minute as they reached Kingston for a second time.
Among them were Swift, Drucker, Vanmarcke and Tuenissen. The gap grew to two-and-a-half minutes and with just 15km to go the main field called off the hunt.
Vanmarcke attacked as they skirted Wimbledon Common and he opened a 16-second lead as he crossed the river at Putney Bridge. A well-practised one-day rider, the Belgian seemed to be pulling away. But he was he gasping for air, and the lead vanished as Swift led the chasers on the run-in to along Millbank and past the Houses of Parliament.
It was a hard slog. Too hard as it turned out for the Briton, as Drucker burst off his shoulder for the win of his life.
Swift may have missed out, but there was some good news for Britain as a delighted Rowsell bagged the King of the Mountains contest on the rolling hills he’s been riding since he was 14.
“They are all local roads to me,” said the 25-year-old. “I grew up riding around here and have been up Box Hill and Leith Hill hundreds of times. I knew no one in the race would know these hills as well as me.
“So to win King of the Mountains here made it a perfect day.”
It was a perfect day for Jean-Pierre Drucker too.
Defending champion Adam Blythe talks team tactics ahead of the Classic
The Orica-GreenEDGE rider expects this year’s Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic to come down to a bunch sprint on The Mall when the riders roll into the capital after conquering the Surrey Hills.
Guarischi pays tribute to her team after Grand Prix win
Velocio Sports deliver team leader Barbara Guarischi to the line in the Prudential RideLondon Grand Prix.
Alldis makes it third time lucky to win Handcycle Classic
A bad night’s sleep couldn’t stop Brian Alldis from fulfilling his dream of winning the 2015 Prudential RideLondon Handcycle Classic.
Now that the Women’s National Road Series is over for another year, many people will be thinking about what team they want to be riding for next season, so given that the better teams tend to be sorted by August, I thought it would be helpful to give those of you who might not have gone through the process before some guidance.
Where do I start?
Firstly, a good starting point is to think about what you actually want to achieve next season and whether you have all the “tools” available to you to be able to do so. For example, it might be something relatively simple like a need to improve on your base fitness over winter to help you be more competitive in the higher level races, or it might be something more difficult, like a lack of time and/or money.
Many people (male and female) make the mistake of applying a scatter gun approach to racing at the start of the season (a large factor being a plethora of races, on the most part circuit races, at the beginning of the season, which peter out later in the year), which doesn’t necessarily help with your fitness or your bank balance!
If you are at school, college, work or have kids, you will have other commitments other than riding your bike. That also means that you are likely to have a finite number of holidays available too – so think about what you intend to do in those holidays, and how many you are prepared to spend at bike races (everybody needs a break from work otherwise you get burn out).
You also need to think about how many hours a week you can dedicate to riding a bike – if you have a training plan that involves 20 hours a week on the bike, is it reasonable to think that you can achieve that? Or is 6 hours a week more likely? You can still achieve results on the latter, you just have to make sure that you are doing quality training.
Every time you race, you pay an entry fee. If you are keen to do more road races than anything else, these tend to be more expensive due to the nature of the infrastructure required for the race to go ahead. If you are likely to be tight on cash (which most people are), and you have to cover the costs of your own entry fee, decide in advance which races you intend to target (the cost of races disappears once the event has happened but if you earmark £30 for each National Series event, and £20 – £25 for every other event, you won’t be far off), how much you will need to spend to get there (including travelling, accommodation and food) and make those events your “target events”, you will go some way to making sure you budget for them accordingly.
Once you’ve earmarked how much it is going to cost you to get to the most important events in your calendar, then work backwards based on how much cash you think you are going to have available and look at local events first, then further afield. Remember, you don’t have to enter all women’s races if there isn’t one available. You can enter men’s events, but you have to be pretty quick because they fill up rather fast.
If you live in a region where there isn’t much racing available for women, you have two choices: you either do something about it (by persuading organisers of men’s events to host a women’s race at the same time) or you have to travel. Most people have to travel at some point because races tend to be in the middle of nowhere. If you don’t have access to a car, the likelihood is that you will struggle to get to races unless you team up with someone else to get there or you get there using public transport, which might involve a stay over. If you’re not overly keen on those two options, you will need to look at the racing on offer in your locality and amend your season’s objectives accordingly.
The short answer is “no”. However, some riders prefer to be on a team, so it’s each to their own. But, having said that, if you do want to be on a sponsored team, and you are considering applying to teams, make sure that you are honest with yourself about what you can give. Being on a team is a privileged position to be in, especially those where it includes the provision of clothing and equipment. You need to ensure that you can do justice to yourself and your potential sponsors before applying. You also need to think about the commitment level (see above) as if you’re limited on the number of holidays that you have, only you will know whether riding every Tour Series or driving the length of the country for National Series races is the best use of your time.
Notwithstanding the above, Tanya Griffiths wrote an article for us last year about applying for a team place, which you can access here.
Ultimately, the majority of racing cyclists in this country participate because it’s their hobby. That means it’s supposed to be fun and enjoyable (although it is hard work too). Focus on what you want to achieve, make sure your objectives or goals are SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) and just enjoy riding your bike.
If you do decide to go ahead with applying to sponsored teams next season, we wish you the very best of luck and hope that everything works out for you.
Peter Kennaugh and Lizzie Armitstead took the road race titles at today’s British Cycling National Road Championships in Lincolnshire.
Peter Kennaugh took his second successive British men’s road title in a remarkable race while Lizzie Armitstead delivered a stunning solo effort to win the women’s title.
Team Sky’s Kennaugh finally distanced a courageous Mark Cavendish on the ninth and final climb of Michaelgate in Lincoln. Ian Stannard completed the podium behind Cavendish.
After crosswinds saw the peloton ripped apart in the early stages, Kennaugh and Team Sky colleague Stannard escaped leaving Mark Cavendish, Luke Rowe, Scott Thwaites and Adam Blythe in pursuit.
Thwaites and Blythe dropped back before Luke Rowe decided to work with Cavendish to shut down the gap on his Team Sky associates with only three laps remaining.
They cut down the 40-second gap on the duo and bridged on Michaelgate – the eighth of nine ascents of the cobbles.
On the final 13-kilometre lap Stannard burst free but was caught before Kennaugh and Cavendish accelerated away leaving Rowe and 2012 champion Stannard to contest bronze.
It was fittingly left for the final climb of Michaelgate for the title to be decided and although Cavendish kept with Kennaugh the 26-year-old eventually pulled away to become the first British male to win back-to-back road titles since Roger Hammond in 2003 and 2004.
Team Wiggins’ Owain Doull impressed to finish seventh and with it take the under-23 men’s championship.
“The atmosphere is incredible and something I’ll never forget,” Kennaugh said.
“Obviously last year it meant everything – it was the first time – I’d been on the podium about four times before that so I really enjoyed this last year.
“I’m over the moon just to stay in white with my white bike and my white accessories!
“It means a lot to me and it gives you that extra motivation with that added pressure of carrying the jersey in the pro peloton – you can’t just get away with sitting at the back and stuff. You’re easily spotted.
“It’s good for the motivation – it’s good for the morale going forward for the rest of the year.”
Armitstead won her third British road title – after victories in 2011 and 2013 – with a solo attack on the penultimate climb of the famous Michaelgate. Alice Barnes, just 19 years of age, was second with Laura Trott third.
No rider was able to match Armitstead’s effort on the fourth of five times up the cobbled climb and the Boels Dolmans Cycling Team rider completed the last lap alone before crossing the finish line to the backdrop of Lincoln Cathedral.
“It means I get to be proud of being British in all the races that I do,” Armitstead said of being able to wear the British champion’s jersey.
“It means a lot – it means new kit for a start! I go to the Giro on Friday so it will be a quick turnaround for them.
“I had some good people around me before the start who told me to believe in myself and I listened.
“It was a difficult race. The longer the race went on the better I started to feel.”
Team Betch NL Superior-Brentjens rider Alice Barnes took a superb second, in her first elite road championships, to win the under-23 women’s champion title with defending champion Laura Trott, of Matrix Fitness, third.
While Armitstead savoured the win, behind her the race for silver and bronze came down to the final corners as Alice Barnes showed her huge potential in holding off the challenge of defending champion Laura Trott.
Full results from the women’s race can be found here and from the men’s race here.
Highlights of the championships will be broadcast on ITV4 at 6pm on Monday 29 June.
DOWSETT, SIMMONDS AND DAVIES TAKE TIME TRIAL TITLES AT BRITISH CYCLING NATIONAL ROAD CHAMPIONSHIPS
Alex Dowsett, Hayley Simmonds and Scott Davies took the time trial titles at the 2015 British Cycling National Road Championships in Lincolnshire today.
Alex Dowsett produced a world-class performance at Cadwell Park to equal Stuart Dangerfield’s record of four British time trial titles, while earlier in the day, Hayley Simmonds and Scott Davies took the women’s and under-23 men’s crowns.
Dowsett set a scorching time of 1:00.11 over the testing 44.8-kilometre course that combined the open roads of Lincolnshire and the swooping tarmac of the Cadwell Park motor racing circuit.
SportGrub Kuota Cycling Team’s Ryan Perry set a marker of 1:04.28 before NFTO’s Edmund Bradbury dropped below the 1:04 mark with a 1:03.42 as title favourites Bottrill and Dowsett ploughed around the three laps of the open road sector of the Lincolnshire course, two of just six riders remaining with a chance of challenging for the medals.
As Dowsett passed Bottrill, it became clear that the 26-year-old Movistar pro was headed for a record-equalling fourth title – it was just a case how big the winning margin would be.
In the end Dowsett’s win was emphatic, a time of 1:00.11, ensuring that the British title was added to his remarkable year of UCI Hour record and Bayern Rundfahrt stage race triumphs.
Bottrill eventually finished fourth, four minutes and 20 seconds down on Dowsett, with Bradbury taking silver and Perry taking bronze.
Speaking after regaining the National Title, Alex Dowsett told British Cycling:
“It’s lovely to get it back,” said Dowsett. “It’s really significant being national champion. Now every time I do a time-trial I get to wear this!”
“I couldn’t have lost it to a more talented guy last year in Brad (Sir Bradley Wiggins) but it’s nice to have it back.
“That was tough. I didn’t have a radio so I had no idea where I was in relation to anyone else.
“The course itself – in training, I thought it would be easier in the race but it was actually harder, so I had no idea how well I was going out there. But when I saw Matt (Bottrill) I knew that either he was on a horrendous day or I was on a good one.
“I had a bit of a moment on the second to last corner around here. I’ve got quite a few friends who race British Superbike and I’m not going to hear the end of it from missing that apex!”
Team Velosport’s Hayley Simmonds produced a superb ride to take the British women’s title, defying the form book and finishing over a minute ahead of silver medallist Molly Weaver and bronze medallist Dame Sarah Storey.
Simmonds, who moved from rowing in 2009, took the lead from early pacesetter Ciara Horne over the 33.6-kilometre course. Posting a time of 51:39.89, the 2014 10-mile and 50-mile time-trial champion, threw the gauntlet down in resounding fashion, with Katie Archibald and Dame Sarah Storey still out on the course.
Liv Plantur’s Molly Weaver soon pushed Horne into third with a 52.58.18 time and within minutes, the pundits’ favourite was dropping out of medal contention.
Hayley Simmonds was crowned British Cycling National Road Time Trial Champion 2015 on the 25th June. She chats to Chris Maher of CyclingShorts.cc about her win.
“It’s completely overwhelming – I’ve worked really hard for this,” said Simmonds. “I hoped it was going to be really close and I just went out and did the ride that I thought I could, did the effort I thought I could and obviously it paid off.
“I was just trying to focus on getting out the ride that I was capable of and not necessarily concentrating on the other big names that were starting after me.”
“After I finished and I was half collapsing over my bike I could just hear the commentator say my time and then say ‘will anyone go under 50 minutes’. Dame Sarah and Katie Archibald are both capable of going under 50 and at that point I wasn’t even sure that I was in the lead, let alone that I was going to win by a minute.”
Cycling Shorts caught up with Hayley after her ride to victory.
She told me that the race had went really well for her. After spending time looking around the course outside of Cadwell Park, She knew that she would be capable of setting a competitive time by sticking to her plan.
Hayley has won a few Time Trial Championships over different lengths in recent years. Coming into this race, she had recently won the Holme Valley Wheelers 2 Day in early June, beating the likes of Dame Sarah Storey and National Road Race Champion Laura Trott. This had gave her confidence to trust her ability, and ride the race at a pace that suited her.
She is currently studying for her PhD, and should have it submitted by March next year. Once that’s out of the way, Hayley said that she would like to take up professional bike riding full-time.
I asked her about the National Road Race coming up on Sunday in Lincoln. “Yes” she told me, “I’m riding it”. But she went on to say that her main objective this week, had been the Time Trial today. That’s were all her focus has been recently. Going out and checking out the course route, the twists and turns, and figuring out the best way to approach each corner, each climb.
For the near future, Hayley said she was going to have a go at a 100, something she’s not attempted before. So it won’t be long before you get to see the Red & Blue Strip Jersey on the road again somewhere around the UK.
Earlier in the day, 100%ME’s Scott Davies successfully defended his British under-23 time trial title.
The 19-year-old from Carmarthen fought off a strong challenge from fellow Welshman, Team Wiggins’ Owain Doull, recording a time of 47:20.32 to retain the jersey he won in Monmouthshire 12 months ago.
Axeon Cycling Team’s Tao Geoghegan Hart had been the first to break into the 47-minute times with 47:37.90, only for Doull to immediately strike back with a stunning 47:26.53.
But Davies, continuing the stellar form demonstrated earlier in the year at Tour de Yorkshire, did not falter, besting Doull’s time by six seconds with a 47:20.32 masterclass, joining Alex Dowsett and Sam Harrison as only the third rider to win back-to-back under-23 time trial titles.
A relieved Davies commented after the race:
“It was pretty tough – I think the nature of the course meant holding a rhythm wasn’t that easy today,” said Davies following his effort.
“It’s quite rolling so there’s no real stretch where you can hold the same pace. It’s up, down and up. That steep hill is quite tough as well – quite a testing course.
“Relieved is the word that I’d use to describe how today went. I came up to it with a bit more pressure than last year – relieved to have defended it.”
Highlights of the time trials will be shown on British Eurosport 2 tomorrow (Friday 26 June) at 6pm.
The 2015 British Cycling National Road Championships continue on Sunday 28 June with the road races, which start and finish in Lincoln city centre. The women’s and men’s race will be broadcast live on British Eurosport from 11:30am with highlights on ITV4 on Monday evening at 6pm.
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