Forget the fireworks bringing in the New Year. The real fireworks begin this weekend on the boards at the penultimate round of the #RevolutionSeries.
Revolution 56 in the National Cycling Centre at Manchester will set the scene for the final push to represent Great Britain at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Big names are beginning show their intent to get on the long-list of potential athletes that will be in with a look at boarding that plane to Rio this Summer, but who will going?
Before we can answer that question, we need to tie up the Revolution Elite Championship.
Team Pedalsure top the table with the final round only a couple of weeks or so away, also in Manchester.
Andrew Tennant and Chris Latham will be defending their lead, but Official TEAMIES Jon Dibben and Owain Doull are hot on their wheels for Team WIGGINS.
Joining the party are last years Champions Christian Grasmann and David Muntaner for Maloja Pushbikers RT sitting in third position at the moment.
Mark Cavendish makes a return to the track for Telegraph Allstars bolstering up his desire to represent Team GB at Rio. He along with Wood, Gibson and Latham will race against Team WIGGINS Tennant, Burke, Doull and Dibben in a special Team Pursuit Challenge.
Fred Wright returns to take up the HOY Future Star Boys competition challenge for the Telegraph Allstars, but he’s going to find it hard to catch series leader Lewis Stewart from Team Scotland who has an eight-two point lead over him.
Meanwhile in the Girls competition, Jessica Roberts, Team USN still holds a comfortable forty-one point lead with two rounds remaining.
Big names in the men’s Sprint competition are set to grace the boards in Manchester once more, none bigger than Robert Fӧrstemann. Joining him to push our lads to their limits are American Dominic Suozzie, Netherland’s Sam Ligtlee and Alex Joliffe.
Pushing our best female Olympic Hero Laura Trott in the Elite Women’s events this time round is no other than the current Scratch Race World Champion Kirsten Wild. Wild finished third place behind Trott’s Silver in the Omnium Event at the Worlds, to be held in two months time in London, and she is joined by Poland’s Gosia Wrotya along with regulars Leire Olaberria, Emily Kay and Elinor Barker.
Another big name for Rio 2016, in attendance at the #RevolutionSeries riding for Team Sky is Italy’s Elia Viviani. We spoke to Elia back at the first stage of the Aviva TOB after beating Cavendish and Griepel. Check out what he said after the win and what his plans where for in 2016, here.
Images ©CyclingShorts.cc/ wwwchrismaher.co.uk
Czech National champion Petr Vakoc produced the ride of his life to hold off the peloton after a thrilling solo attack into Colne to take Stage Two of the Aviva Tour of Britain.
The economics student measured his effort well on the Pendle roads to take victory on Colne’s High Street by seven-seconds from Juan Jose Lobato, with former race winner Edvald Boasson Hagen a further two seconds back in third, as the finishing drag took its toll on the 45-rider chasing group.
Vakoc was well rewarded for his monumental effort, taking over the leader’s Aviva Yellow Jersey and earning a rapturous reception from the Colne locals who have a soft spot for individuals who don’t quit no matter how tough the going gets. This is after all the birthplace of Wallace Hartley, the leader of the band who famously ‘played on’ when the Titanic sank.
Just 23 and a fast emerging talent, plus a Gold medallist at the World Student Games, Vakoc took off with about 16-kilometres to go when an eight man break started to run out of steam and disintegrate on the rolling Lancashire roads.
The peloton gave chase with Lotto Soudal trying to manufacture a sprint opportunity for Andre Greipel but on tough and sometimes narrow roads they struggled to get on terms. Vakoc never seemed to pull ahead decisively but nor did the bunch every quite get on terms. It was classic hare and hound stuff and this time the hare won.
As he came into Colne, about 15 seconds to the good, the only thing that could derail the Czech Road Race Champion was a gruelling final kilometre drag but although you could see the pain and effort he seemed to get strong as he negotiated the ascent to win in style.
Juan Jose Lobato of Movistar chased him home seven second back with Edvald Boasson Hagen a further two seconds adrift, with the same order at the top of the Aviva General Classification.
Lobato’s second placed moved him into the lead of the Chain Reaction Cycles Points competition while Owain Doull of Team WIGGINS again rode well to take seventh place on the road and the Premier Inn Best British Rider lead.
Chris Maher of CyclingShorts.cc caught up with Petr Vakoc after taking the yellow jersey on stage 2 of the Aviva Tour of Britain 2015.
“It is a beautiful day and a big success for me, probably the biggest win of my career,” said Vakoc. “I didn’t really expect a ride like this morning but I woke up with good sensations. Normally I am not so good when there is a very hard start to a stage but today I felt good.
“Our tactics were to get in a break as it didn’t seem like it was going to be a sprint day. I managed to get in the eight main eight man break with 50-kilometres to go and we worked quite well but we weren’t going fast enough and the bunch was catching us so I tried my luck.
“I thought somebody would come with me but the next moment I was alone. There was a long way to go but I felt good and decided to press hard. It was a tough finish but that suited me well. I kept a little back and in the final 500m I imagined I was in a bunch sprit and rode like that. I was very tired at the end but it was worth it.”
Vakoc has suspended his studies for an Economics degree because his professional racing career has taken off so dramatically recently and he decided it was too much to combine the two.
His form this year had been impressive with a win in the Czech National Championships and a Bronze medal in the in the inaugural European Games road race, then recently overall victory in his national Tour. Last year, his first with Etixx Quick-Step, he recorded a stage win at the Tour of Poland and took time off from the professional peloton to win both the Road Race and Time Trial at the World University Championships at Jelenia Gora, also in Poland.
In the YodelDirect Sprint competition Peter Williams of ONE Pro Cycling Cycling reaped the benefit of aggressively getting in the early break and securing enough points to move one ahead of Pim Ligthart with erstwhile leader Conor Dunne a further point back.
It was the second day that Williams, who lives locally at Skipton and trains on the roads of the Ribble Valley and Pendle, animated the early break, at one point gaining over four minutes and briefly being joined at the head of the race by Alex Dowsett. For his efforts Williams, who won the YodelDirect Sprints Jersey in 2012, was also rewarded with the day’s Rouleur Combativity Award.
“I know the road and went out on the course last week and it’s a bit of an advantage,” said Williams afterwards. “You know where the tricky bits and dodgy corners are. It was always going to be a hard grippy day. I wasn’t looking for the jersey really, I was just trying to get in a good break but by doing that you can put yourself in contention.”
In the SKODA King of the Mountains classification it was another local rider, Preston’s Ian Bibby, who was the star of the day, leading the race over the first two climbs of the day – Nick o’Pendle and Bleara Moor – but it was Madison Genesis rider Tom Stewart who pulled on the jersey, after adding to his points haul from Stage One.
For full results and standings from Stage Two, please click here.
Stage Three sees the longest stage of the race so far at 216-kilometres, starting in Cumbria at Cockermouth at 10.15, before crossing the border north into Scotland, heading through Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders, before the finish at Floors Castle on the outskirts of Kelso.
The Aviva Tour of Britain is British Cycling’s premier road cycling event giving cycling fans the opportunity to see the world’s best teams and riders competing on their door step.