Yellow Jersey changes hands in Brighton, as Julien Vermote wins stage

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Julien Vermote wins Stage Seven in Brighton

The drama continued in the Friends Life Tour of Britain as the Friends Life Yellow Jersey changed hands yet again, as the end of a thrilling stage to Brighton, won by Julien Vermote.

A trio of testing SKODA King of the Mountains climbs in the final 60-kilometres took their toll on the peloton, and Friends Life Yellow Jersey Alex Dowsett in particular, with the Movistar Team rider losing 2 minutes 34 seconds and falling to tenth place overall.

Garmin Sharp’s Dylan Van Baarle held on from the break to take third, behind Ignatas Konovalovas, but more importantly to become the sixth Friends Life Yellow Jersey of the week, taking a 19-second lead over Michal Kwiatowski into the final stage.

At the head of the stage it was Vermote, with the Omega Pharma Quick-Step rider attacking from the break on Ditchling Beacon and soloing to victory on Brighton’s Madeira Drive.

With the race behind splitting to pieces, it was an attack from Vermote’s teammate Kwiatkowski, also on Ditchling Beacon, that detached Dowsett and sent a 22-rider group away, including the likes of Bradley Wiggins, Nicolas Roche and Edoardo Zardini.

Dowsett, assisted by Giovanni Visconti, chased, but in vain and with no further help, as the Bear Road climb and fast descent to the finish prevented them from regaining contact.

Vermote was able to win alone, with Konovalovas and Van Baarle following him home, before Kwiatkowski led in the group for fourth, rejigging the Friends Life General Classification dramatically.

Dylan van Baarle, Friends Life Yellow Jersey

Dylan van Baarle, Friends Life Yellow Jersey

Speaking afterwards on his dramatic rise into the Friends Life Yellow Jersey, Van Baarle said, “I possibly went under the radar a bit I was still I think 14th in GC but they don’t know my name for now, and hopefully they will remember me.

“I’m really tired. It was a pretty hard day, we went almost from start to finish full gas and when I crossed the line i was completely dead.

“I started to think we might do it when we had ten minutes in the break. Then some DS said there were only two Movistar guys riding and then we held the pace really high. Then Julien [Vermote] said he wasn’t going to ride anymore because OPQS are chasing. At that moment me and Konovalovas went full gas to the finish line.

“Before the start of this race I knew that I wanted to show my name a little bit, show myself maybe get a top ten or top fifteen but I didn’t expect to be wearing the yellow jersey. Now I’m thinking about the podium or maybe winning.

“I like the short prologue distances for time-trial. I’m not a Wiggins that needs 50km or whatever. I’m more a prologue specialist. I will do my best and we will see what happens tomorrow. I don’t know how the legs will feel tomorrow for the other guys and it will be hard tomorrow.”

Van Baarle’s nearest challenger is Kwiatkowski, with the Polish time trial champion 19 seconds in arrears

“As you see, it’s hard racing here at Tour of Britain! The peloton couldn’t control this breakaway. Luckily we had a strong Julien Vermote there. He really deserves this win. He pulled so much for us, for me every single day and today he took a beautiful victory. Congratulations to him. We’re really happy about it.

“Of course, I wanted to also take back the yellow jersey but Van Baarle was still in front. It’s hard to control everything in a race. We accelerated on the second-to-last climb and dropped Dowsett, but it was hard to close the gap on the group between Vermote and us. But OK, I’m only 19″ down. There is the time trial tomorrow which I said earlier in this race that it would be important, even if it’s short. Anything can happen. I have done well on short time trials like the one of tomorrow. So we will see. But today we are going to celebrate the big victory of Julien.”

Having received the congratulations of his Omega Pharma Quick-Step teammates, including Mark Cavendish, immediately after the line, 25-year-old Vermote admitted he hadn’t been expect the result.

Julien Vermote wins Stage Seven

Julien Vermote winning the stage

“I’m pretty surprised I had the energy for a breakaway win to be honest. Only one day this week I didn’t ride at the front of the peloton because five days out of the six I was pulling for either Kwiatkowski or Cav. I had given my all every time but every day I seem to have recovered well and I have felt very strong.

“Today we didn’t mention me getting in the break at the team meeting but at the beginning of the stage Kwia rode up to me and said maybe it would be a good idea for me to get in the break if I was able. He thought that perhaps I would then be in a position to help him in the final stages if the peloton caught the break.

“I got in the break and I immediately felt good and when out lead went to ten minutes I remembered from the previous day how hard it is to chase down a break like that. We rode very well as a group but at 140-kilometres I stopped contributing because still my main thought was Kwia for GC back in the peloton. Anyway when we rode through the second last climb it was clear we would stay away so I started to ride full gas again and then I really wanted to win. I know my place in the team with all the great riders we have, I love to help them, but also I like to ride to get one victory for the team as well

“My teammates were so happy for me after the finish and it shows that the work I do for all of them, and the team, includes big rewards for myself too.”

In addition to the stage win, Omega Pharma Quick-Step’s third of the week, Vermote also took the Stage Seven Rouleur Combativity Award.

Reacting to losing the Friends Life Yellow Jersey, Dowsett said afterwards; “I was disappointed. I thought I woke up feeling pretty fresh, but as soon as we hit those climbs, I knew I was suffering. I got as much food down my neck as I could, and looked after myself as best as I could. The team were amazing today, it’s difficult because we had three guys up there on GC. With the finish being as hard as it was, we knew we needed a back-up plan. We didn’t want to be using Giovanni [Visconti] or [Ion] Izaguirre to work. But the gap to the break went out so much, and the other teams said if you don’t put one more guy up there, we won’t help. Visco had to do a lot of work late on, he tried to help me save it.

“It’s been a good week. Hopefully I’ll have a good TT tomorrow. One minute is a lot to make up in 8km. I’ve worn yellow, and when I came into yesterday I didn’t expect that. It’s been a nice race, Friends Life have put a lot of effort into thiss, and Mick Bennett has produced one of the best Tour of Britain’s yet.”

Elsewhere An Post Chain Reaction rider Mark McNally sealed the SKODA King of the Mountains jersey, with a 21-point lead over double stage winner Matthias Brandle.  The Liverpudlian, who took the jersey in his home city on Stage One, still has to finish the London stages, but with no categorised SKODA King of the Mountains climbs, McNally is poised to keep the jersey for the entire week.

The destination of the YodelDirect Sprints Jersey, sponsored by parcel delivery company Yodel, will be decided in London, on lap five of the final circuit race, with just current wearer Sebastian Lander of BMC Racing and Dowsett in contention.  The Movistar Team rider is two points behind the Dane, with three points for the winner of the final YodelDirect Sprint.

The Friends Life Tour of Britain concludes in central London on Sunday, with a split stage including an 8.8 kilometre individual time trial before the traditional ten lap circuit race.
Great Britain’s Chris Lawless will get the time trial underway at 11:01, with riders heading off at one-minute intervals, including Steve Cummings at 11:52 and Mark Cavendish at 12:05, before the top ten riders go at two-minute intervals, led by Alex Dowsett at 12:39, with Friends Life Yellow Jersey Dylan Van Baarle last off at 12:57.

The full time trial start list is available here.

Highlights of Stage Seven are on ITV4 at 2000 on Saturday 13 September, with live coverage of Stage 8b and highlights of the Stage 8a individual time trial from 1500 on Sunday on ITV4. Full details of the television coverage of the Friends Life Tour of Britain, including British Eurosport’s live coverage, can be found here.

For full Stage Seven results, click here.

Cycletta Aims to Help Get One Million Ladies on their Bikes by 2020

Cycletta

Cycletta Aims to Help Get One Million Ladies on their Bikes by 2020

 

Victoria Pendleton CBE hoping to see lots more ladies taking up cycling as a way of staying fit and having fun.
– 56% of all Cycletta participants were taking part in a cycling event for the first time
– 96% of participants, who weren’t already regular cyclists, said that they had been inspired to cycle more regularly in the future.

Cycletta, the UK’s leading series of women only bike rides, is showing its support to British Cycling’s plans to get one million women cycling by 2020.

Victoria Pendleton CBE launched the 2013 Cycletta series last week. Following the success of last year’s events which saw thousands of women across the UK take to their bikes, Cycletta 2013 is coming to even more stunning locations, including visits to Scotland and Wales for the first time, as well as a new Surrey location.

During the 2012 series, 56% of all Cycletta participants were taking part in a cycling event for the first time and an impressive 96% of participants, who weren’t already regular cyclists, said that they had been inspired to cycle more regularly in the future. It is results such as these that show how Cycletta has been effective in partnering British Cycling and the Breeze Network in their initiative to increase participation of female cyclists.

Cycletta 2013 is open to women of all ages and abilities, where distances include the Classic route (40 km) and Challenge (52-82km). With the Olympics inspiring a wave of new cyclists series organisers, Human Race, have added a shorter 20km distance at all venues, continuing to develop the core motivation behind Cycletta and make cycling participation accessible for as many women as possible.

Cycletta ambassador, Victoria Pendleton will be aiming to take part in as many of the events as she can, and encourages women everywhere to give the events a go. She said: “Cycletta has been encouraging women to get on their bikes since 2011. The fact that the series has grown from two events to seven over the last few years proves that more and more ladies are taking up cycling.”

She continued: “Last year just over half of all Cycletta participants were taking part in a cycling event for the first time and with the addition of the new shorter 20km routes this year, we are hoping to see lots more ladies taking up cycling as a way of staying fit and having fun.”

This year, girls aged between 12 and 16 years can also take part when accompanied by an adult, with the organisers hoping Cycletta will inspire the next generation of Victoria Pendletons and offer the opportunity for mums and daughters to take part in events together.

For the younger children, all events (with the exception of Brighton and Cycletta at Wiggle Dragon Ride) will host a Scootathlon taking place on the same day. The Scootathlon is a fun mini triathlon for children between the ages of 4 and 8 where they scoot, bike and run. Girls and boys will race together in various age categories for the title of Scootathlon champion.

Each Cycletta will take place in stunning surroundings, on safe well-managed roads and with loads of fun for all the family. Each event will feature all the unique touches that made the 2012 events so popular. A pop up spa by Unlisted, London’s leading authority in beauty, fitness and wellbeing, will be offering all Cycletta participants post-ride spa treatments to ensure that riders relax, rejuvenate and revive within the Unlisted oasis.

Ian Lulham, Cycling Events Programme Manager for Cycletta’s Official Charity Partner Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “We want as many ladies as possible to take to two wheels, get outdoors in the great British countryside and take part in Cycletta for Macmillan in 2013. Not only will you have a great day out, but you’ll be helping us on our way to raising much needed funds to help support people affected by cancer, every step of the way.”

The Cycletta website offers a host of information on training, on-the-day advice and bike maintenance. Also keep an eye on the Cycletta blog, Twitter (@cycletta) and http://www.facebook.com/cycletta to stay up-to-date with the latest news and developments. Cycletta is part of the Human Race Women Only series which includes triathlon, swimming, running and cycling events. To find out more go to: http://www.humanrace.co.uk

 
See below for all Cycletta events and visit http://www.cycletta.co.uk to book your place.

Cycletta Cheshire: 12th May, Tatton Park
Cycletta at the Wiggle Dragon Ride: 9th June, Margam Park, South Wales
Cycletta Bedfordshire: 30th June, Woburn Abbey
Cycletta Surrey: 7th July, Loseley Park
Cycletta Scotland: 15th September, Scone Palace, Perth
Cycletta Brighton: 29th September, Plumpton Racecourse
Cycletta New Forest: 13th October, Beaulieu
 
 
 

The AN Post Rás

The AN Post Rás. It was probably the highlight of my 2011 season, so I had high expectations coming into the 2012 edition of the race. Last year I rode for the Irish national team but this year I was taking to the start line in the often-described-as ‘feckin brilliant’ black and white jersey of Rapha Condor Sharp.

I flew over to Dublin by myself to meet the rest of the team who were driving from Manchester. As soon as I arrived one of the lads noticed how much I was smiling. It isn’t just the tough unpredictable racing that makes the Ras such an enjoyable week, the atmosphere amongst all the teams and staff is something I’ve only experienced at this race. The Irish always know how to have a good time and it’s definitely the attitude of people that plays a large part in a good atmosphere that always keeps teams eager to return.

Looking back at the past winners of the race, it’s not a surprise that the team are well known in this part of the world. However, this year Rapha Condor Sharp has taken a completely different approach – focusing on the development of younger riders. The Ras squad was no exception with our eldest rider being 23, which I’m sure would give us the youngest average age of any team competing. The lineup consisted of; Rich Lang our Aussie climber/sprinter/everything’er, Chris Jennings our South African climbing specialist, big Ben Grenda our strong man from Tasmania, Rich Handley the British rider who can also do much pretty anything and finally me, Felix ‘the local’ from Ireland (and Brighton).

The first few days of the race consisted of 140km+ stages with tough rolling roads. We all rode aggressively trying to get at least one black jersey in every break. However, it quickly became apparent that the Ras was going to live up to its potential of being unlike any other race in the calendar. Break after break would try to escape but each attempt was swallowed up. The roads in Ireland are always rolling and usually have a rough broken surface, which made the averaged speeds of over 48km/h every day in the first hour pretty unbelievable.

Every stage of the Ras from beginning to end is like the first 10km of every other normal race – relentless attacks with everyone wanting to get in on the action. Straight away it was apparent that this year’s race was to be tougher than the 2011 edition. There was a lot more strength in the international teams, which meant you had a lot more riders strong enough to attack and consequently a lot more riders strong enough to close the gaps.

Rich Handley fought his way into the successful breakaway of stage two and finished with a 28 second advantage over the rest of the U23 peloton. It doesn’t seem like much, especially at such an early stage of the race, but this smart move from Rich proved to be decisive. With no time bonuses available, the only way for the race favourites to take time out of Rich was to either get away in a break (difficult now with teams wanting to desperately defend their slender advantage) or they’d have to ride away from him on the tougher climbs. Luckily for us, no one in the race was capable of doing that.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
As the week progressed we became more and more organised. John kept us on our toes with tactical advice each night and our jobs were simple. Myself and Grenda were to follow all the early moves, disrupt the breakaways and, if needs be, close gaps to any splits or breaks that contained dangerous riders. Langy and Chris had to keep Rich up at the front of the race and then take over the job from myself and Ben in the last few km’s. Rich’s job of having to always be at the front was probably the most stressful – having your team mates work solely for you adds a lot of extra pressure but it was clear that was our best chance of securing the white jersey, so it we were all fully committed to him.
This organisation made things easier for us mentally as well. It’s a great feeling when you know you can ride at 100% to close a gap for your team leader, safe in the knowledge that one of your teammates will be there to immediately back you up and cover the next attack. Morale within the team was high all week, which definitely makes a big impact on the way you race together. Being able to have a laugh in the evenings and forget about the race for a few hours has a very positive effect.

Rich rode well over the very steep climbs of stages five and six and held onto the U23white jersey. One climb in particular was like nothing I’ve ever seen before – Mamore Gap on stage five. It was towards the end of a 160km day, and it must be over 30% in places. A few of us took the decision to ride 28t cassettes but I still struggled to make it over the top. It was 2-3km long and easily the hardest climb I’ve ridden. I had to ride hard in the first 2-3 hours of the stage to contain breakaways and generally try and make Rich’s life as easy as possible. Finishing the job riding over the line in Skerries was one of the best feelings I’ve had on a bike. Thanks to all my team mates, Rich, Ben, Langy and Chris for a great week. Also thanks to John, Ian, Rob and Iona for keeping us in line and for keeping it fun.

 

Cheers
Felix!
 
 

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