The Tour de Yorkshire, one of the most spectacular and well received events in the British sporting calendar, returns for a second year with new routes and new challenges. The huge crowds will be entertained by Race Ambassadors and a Tour de Yorkshire Caravan which will visit key points on the route before the race starts.
The route will take the 18 teams of eight riders to all four corners of Yorkshire, linking together the county’s sporting, historic, industrial and literary greats.
Stage One begins in Beverley, home to one of England’s finest Minsters, before the peloton races to Tadcaster and on to Knaresborough which was the scene of some of the biggest crowds for the Tour de France in 2014. Taking in some of the Grand Depart 2014 route, a series of climbs takes the riders past Brimham Rocks before a finish in Settle.
On Stage Two, men and women will face exactly the same stage which starts in Otley, home of the current women’s road World Champion Lizzie Armitstead. From Otley riders travel south, on roads not raced on in the Tour de France or Tour de Yorkshire, towards Conisbrough Castle and on to Doncaster.
Tour De Yorkshire 2015 | Scarborough to Bridlington – Stage 1 ©www.chrismaher.co.uk / CyclingShorts.cc
Stage Three will be familiar to those who raced in 2015, starting in Captain James Cook’s home town of Middlesbrough, then into Herriot Country before tackling the infamous Sutton Bank, the first of six King of the Mountain points in just one stage. Riders then head over the North York Moors and down towards Scarborough for what promises to be a thrilling finale and a race to the very end.
Riders joined host towns at a launch event in Otley, where Welcome to Yorkshire’s Sir Gary Verity and A.S.O.’s Christian Prudhomme unveiled the full route.
Sir Gary Verity, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said:
“For next year’s race we’ve selected routes which showcase Yorkshire’s stunning scenery and will also deliver an excellent sporting event. Our first race was phenomenally successful, bringing 1.5 million spectators to the roadside, generating over £50million for the regional economy and being broadcast around the world – not many races can say that. The stages we’ve revealed today are eagerly anticipated by fans, riders and teams and we have all the ingredients for another spectacular race which will bring the crowds back out.”
Christian Prudhomme, Director of the Tour de France, said:
“I am always happy to be back in Yorkshire and today marks an important milestone for the race. Feedback from teams and riders last year was excellent and this year we have three stages which together create a race right to the end; the final King of the Mountain points are barely six kilometres from the final finish line.”
In addition to the professional races, the Maserati Tour de Yorkshire Ride will give amateur cyclists the chance to ride many of the roads ridden by the pros in a newly designed sportive route, which will start and finish in Scarborough on Sunday 1 May. The sportive route will follow parts of Stage 3 of the men’s race whilst also taking in several alternative roads to allow for all 6000 participants to finish in their own time.
A highlight of the sportive will see amateur riders finishing with a 1km sea-front sprint finish and crossing the very same finish line as the professional riders with the same support from the waiting crowds. There will be three distances for riders to choose from; 40km, 85km and 115km. The sportive sold out in a matter of hours in 2015 and those hoping to secure a place in the 2016 ride can register their interest and be first to hear when this year’s event opens at letouryorkshire.com/sportive
Returning sponsors for the men’s race have also been confirmed, with Yorkshire Bank sponsoring the Sprint Jersey; Dimension Data sponsoring the Digital Vote / Most Aggressive Rider Jersey; and Mavic returning as the Official Supplier. Yorkshire Bank also sponsor the Tour de France legacy project – the Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries – which have already helped over a thousand children in Yorkshire ride a bike for free.
So, here you have it, your full 2016 route for @letouryorkshire. It’s going to be epic. #TDYpic.twitter.com/y7sjftv5FO
Detailed stage profiles
Stage 1: Friday 29 April 2016: Beverley to Settle
- Total stage length: 184km
- 2 x sprint points (Bubwith, Giggleswick)
- 1 x King of the Mountain (Greenhow Hill)
- Total ascent: 1832m
The first stage will set off from Saturday Market in Beverley. The riders will parade around the town – which also played host to the race in 2015, then through North Bar before heading north west to the Official Start at Beverley Racecourse; Holme on the Wolds, Market Weighton (which also saw the race pass through in May 2015), and on westwards to a sprint point at Bubwith. From there, the peloton will race through North Duffield and west to Cawood – scene of Dick Turpin’s famous escape from York – and on to Tadcaster, famous for its breweries. After that, riders will visit Boston Spa, Wetherby, North Deighton and Knaresborough, home of the famous ‘spotty house’ from the Tour de France, decorated with the red spots of the King of the Mountains’ jersey. From there riders will travel to Ripley, home of the UK’s only Hotel du Ville rather than Town Hall, and on to Pateley Bridge where the first King of the Mountain will be won at Greenhow Hill. After that, it’s on to Grassington, then Threshfield and a return to some of the Tour de France roads, through Cracoe then Gargrave, the riders will then cross the finish line in Settle for the first time before a sprint at Giggleswick. They will complete a 12km loop back to the A65 and round to Settle town centre for an expected bunch finish in the town.
Stage 2: Saturday 30 April 2016: Otley to Doncaster
- Total stage length: 135.5km
- Same route for men and women
- 2 x sprint points (Scholes, Warmsworth)
- 3 x King/ Queen of the Mountain (Harewood Bank, East Rigton, Conisbrough Castle)
- Total ascent: 1110m
Stage Two marks an important milestone for the Tour de Yorkshire, as the women’s race will be held on exactly the same route as the men’s race. The women’s race will start in the morning and the men’s race will begin in the early afternoon. Full details of the women’s race will be released in the following weeks.
The Women’s Tour de Yorkshire race will be a full stage race, on 30 April, using the same course as Stage 2 #TDYpic.twitter.com/MKmgVL7Dw4
The route begins in Otley, home town of current women’s road World Champion Lizzie Armitstead. The Official Start is at Pool-in-Wharfedale, before the riders face an early King/ Queen of the Mountain challenge at Harewood Bank, before heading south east towards another King/ Queen of the Mountain at East Rigton, then to Thorner and a sprint at Scholes, then to Barwick in Elmet crossing the A1 at Aberford. Riders then go past Lotherton Hall, into Sherburn in Elmet, down to South Milford and Monk Fryston before swinging south to Birkin and Beal. The route then heads through Kellingley and on to Knottingley, Pontefract (home of liquorice) and Wentbridge, before North and South Elmsall, and on to hidden gem Hooton Pagnell. There is a sprint point at Warmsworth before a lap of, and King/ Queen of the Mountain, at 11th century Conisbrough Castle. The peloton will then head towards Tickhill and Bawtry before racing along the perimeter of Doncaster Sheffield Airport, past Doncaster Racecourse and onto a sprint finish on South Parade.
Stage 3: Sunday 1 May 2016: Middlesbrough to Scarborough
- Total stage length: 196km
- 2 x sprint points (Thirsk and Whitby Abbey)
- 6 x King of the Mountain (Sutton Bank, Blakey Ridge, Grosmont, Robin Hood’s Bay, Harwood Dale and Oliver’s Mount)
- Total ascent: 2593m
If Stages One and Two are for the sprinters, Stage Three will certainly appeal to the climbers. With an elevation of 2593 meters and six King of the Mountain classifications, the route begins in Middlesbrough, birth place of Captain James Cook, and takes the riders on a challenging and technical route through much of the stunning North York Moors National Park. From the start line at Middlesbrough’s MIMA Gallery, they travel south over the Official Start on the outskirts of Nunthorpe on the A172, through Great Ayton, home of the Captain Cook School Room, and on to Stokesley, Hutton Rudby, Winton and down to Northallerton, the county town of North Yorkshire. From there, the riders head to Thirsk’s market square where there will be a sprint point, before the infamous Sutton Bank and a King of the Mountain. Onwards to Helmsley, winner of Britain’s Best Market Town, then to Kirkbymoorside and heading north to Hutton le Hole and a King of the Mountain at Blakey Ridge. The peloton will recognise Castleton and many of the villages towards Whitby as the route is similar to that for the 2015 race. There will be a King of the Mountain at Grosmont, where in 2015 riders were welcomed by a steam salute by the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, and riders will pass through Sleights and Ruswarp before dipping down to Whitby. There is a sprint point at Whitby Abbey, before the race makes a visit to Hawkser. Next up is a battle over a King of the Mountain at Robin Hood’s Bay, before another King of the Mountain at Harwood Dale. From there it’s full speed to East Ayton and Irton, before a final King of the Mountain at Oliver’s Mount and a sprint finish in Scarborough’s North Bay.
We’re also excited that for the 2016 @letouryorkshire, there will be a Publicity Caravan running ahead of the cyclists. #TDY
Adam Blythe won a battle of the Brits to win the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic in central London today beating his old friend and sparring partner Ben Swift in a dramatic sprint finish on The Mall.
The two Sheffield-born cyclists were part of a five-strong group that screamed up Whitehall and under Admiralty Arch after 200 kilometres of hard racing over the wet and muddy roads of the Surrey Hills.
Team Cannondale’s Slovenian rider Kristijan Koren led them up The Mall with the finish line and Buckingham Palace in the distance. But Blythe launched his attack with 50 metres to go, surprising Swift, Team Sky’s pre-race favourite, to take a hard-earned victory for the unfancied NFTO Procycling team.
Blythe threw his arms in the air as he crossed the line, a roar of triumph breaking out from his mud-spattered face.
“It’s hard to say how much this means to me,” said Blythe afterwards. “But you could see how emotional it was as my face said it all.”
“OK, it’s not like I won the worlds or anything, but this is very big race for a British rider to win, especially in this setting in front of the Queen’s house. I hope she was watching.”
Swift was one the race favourites and appeared to be in a perfect position to show his famed finishing speed after five Sky teammates, including 2012 Tour de France winner Sir Bradley Wiggins, had worked hard in the middle part of the race to get him into a breakaway group.
“It would have been nice to have won but I am really happy with second,” said Swift. “I’ve known Adam since I was seven years old and we’ve got a lot of history, so I knew he was the one to watch.”
“I knew I needed to keep an eye on him and I could see he was looking for me on the run-in. I tried to react to his move but he’s a really fast sprinter and once he got the jump on me he was away.”
Koren’s challenge faded as the two Britons raced away and Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe took third for Omega Pharma-Quick-Step ahead of Philippe Gilbert, Belgium’s former world champion from the BMC Racing Team.
Seventy kilometres earlier it was Gilbert who had made the decisive move of the race on the approach to Box Hill.
There had been a number of early attacks from the 147-man field as the riders set off under the welcome warming sun, which had moved in to replace the morning deluge.
The first significant break came in Richmond Park after 13km when six riders got away and established a gap of just over a minute, an advantage they held through the early stretches out into Surrey’s narrow country roads, many of them still smeared with rain wash.
Wiggins and teammate Ian Stannard did much of the work as Sky took control of the peloton, their intention to close the gap and get Swift into contention for any later break. The plan worked perfectly, and when Gilbert made his move, Swift was one of 10 men who leapt to his wheel.
As Sky stepped off the gas, Cannondale were forced to do the bulk of the work at the front of the chasing group as they tried to get their sprinter Elia Viviani back in touch. But with less 50km to go the leading 11 had stretched their gap to more than a minute and it began to look as if they would never be caught.
They charged down Headley Heath and into Leatherhead, Gilbert and Swift keeping the pressure on at the front. Then Gilbert attacked again between Raynes Park and Wimbledon, splitting the group and dragging five clear of the rest.
The Belgian appeared to be on a mission to win with a long run for home and another kick briefly took him and Alaphilippe away from Swift and Blythe with Koren in tow behind.
But the trio closed the gap by the time they reached Putney High Street and it was five riders who crossed Putney Bridge for the run alongside the River Thames towards Westminster.
At this point it looked like anyone’s race, though the smart money was on Swift. Blythe had other ideas, however, and he timed his final push to perfection.
“In the last kilometre I knew I had plenty in the tank,” he said afterwards. “I just wanted to make sure I got everything out and didn’t leave it too late to make my move.”
“I knew that if I was close to Swifty I’d have a chance. I hugged close to the barriers and had a go. Now I feel like I can mix it with the big boys.”
Two of the early breakaway riders won the day’s other honours. Steve Lampier of Node4 Velosure made it a great day for British cycling by claiming the King of the Mountains title, while Dutchman Steven Lammertink, Team Giant-Shimano’s stagiaire, won the sprint contest.
It was Blythe, however, who won the most important sprint of the day.
Scottish Cycling athletes travel to Manchester ahead of the British Cycling National Track Championships
This week sees the Manchester Velodrome play host to the British Cycling National Track Championships. A line up of 284 riders are confirmed to appear throughout 5 days of competition (25th – 29th September) including World Keirin Champion, Jason Kenny, who will go up against fellow London 2012 Team Sprint gold medallist Philip Hindes in the men’s sprint events. The men’s endurance events will feature Olympic Gold Medallists Ed Clancy and Steven Burke as well as former World Champion Andrew Tennant and Olympic Champions, Joanna Rowsell, Laura Trott and Dani King.
In the women’s events, Scottish Commonwealth Games silver medallists in Delhi; Charline Joiner (MG Maxifuel) and Jenny Davis (City of Edinburgh RC) will compete for the 500m time trial title alongside Katie Archibald (City of Edinburgh RC), Louise Haston (City of Edinburgh RC), Emma Baird (City of Edinburgh RC) and Eleanor Richardson (Edinburgh RC). Joiner and Archibald will also compete in the 3000m Individual Pursuit and Davis will compete for the women’s sprint together with Haston, Baird and Richardson. Louise Borthwick (Edinburgh RC) will be joined by Eileen Roe (Breast Cancer Care Cycling Team), Archibald and Joiner in the points and scratch race. Baird, Davis and Haston will also be lining up for the women’s keirin.
Also taking to the boards will be Commonwealth Games hopefuls Callum Skinner (City of Edinburgh RC) and John Paul (City of Edinburgh RC) competing in the men’s keirin on Friday and the sprint event on Saturday in which Skinner, as reigning champion, will look to defend his title.
Speaking to British Cycling, defending British sprint champion and Commonwealth Games hopeful Callum Skinner, originally from Glasgow said: “It (winning the British National Sprint Champion title) was probably one of my best achievements last year, so to be able to hold onto that or even be close to it would be a great thing.”
“The Commonwealth Games is also big target for me; want to hit that event full on. With ticket sales having drawn to a close, it seems like it is really on the horizon now.”
John Paul, Bruce Croall (City of Edinburgh RC) and Jonathan Biggin (Glasgow Life Track Cycling Team) are hoping to bring a British National Championship medal home to Scotland when they compete for Scottish Cycling (Scotland) in the Team Sprint, however they will be up against strong competition from the likes of Callum Skinner, Philip Hindes and Matthew Rotherham who will be competing for the North West of England.
Team Raleigh rider Evan Oliphant, straight from the Tour of Britain, will be competing in the points and scratch races alongside James McCallum (Rapha Condor JLT) who will also be competing in the omnium.
Another Commonwealth Games hopeful taking to the Manchester track will be Silas Goldsworthy (Sandy Wallace Cycles) who will compete in the 4000m individual pursuit scratch and point’s race.
Paralympic gold medallists Neil Fachie (Ythan CC) and Aileen McGlynn OBE (Champion System/Maxgear/Base) will compete in the para-cycling kilo time trial and flying 200m TT. Scottish para-cycling pilot Craig McLean will also be competing in the keirin and sprint races.
Follow all the latest action at www.britishcycling.org.uk/britishtrackchampionships
Full Rider List
L to R: Heather, Marianne Vos & Annie – Revolution 38 – © Cycling Shorts.
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Heather and Annie chat to all conquering World and Olympic Champion Marianne Vos at Revolution 38 where she faced off against Lizzie Armistead.
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Jessica Varnish of Great Britain leads Olivia Montauban of France in the Women’s Sprint 1/8 Finals. – ©Alex Broadway/SWPIX.COM
GOLD – Germany (BOETTICHER)
SILVER – Team Jayco-AIS (LEWIS)
BRONZE – Japan (SAKAMOTO)
When the gold medal race eventually got underway – after a false start by Japan’s rider Takashi Sakamoto, a faulty gun and a few issues with the derny – it was Australia’s Peter Lewis at the front and Kenny trailing in third. Once the derny left the track it was Kenny and German rider Stefan Boetticher who went head-to-head on the final lap. However, there was a dramatic twist as Kenny turned into Boetticher and crashed out taking France’s rider Quentin Lafargue with him. In the end Boetticher held his nerve and took the gold.
Earlier on there was more bad luck for British riders as Welshman Lewis Oliva crashed with Australia’s Andrew Taylor in the second round.
World Cup standings after 2 round:
- BOETTICHER (12 points)
- PUERTA (12 points)
- LAFARGUE (12 points)
GOLD – Germany (VOGEL)
SILVER – Great Britain (VARNISH)
BRONZE – Great Britain (JAMES)
The semi-final saw last night’s Team Sprint gold medallist Great Britain teammates Rebecca James and Jessica Varnish go head-to-head to earn a place in the gold medal race. After the first two legs of the semi-final the riders it was 1-1, with it all coming down to the decider. In a strong display by Varnish, she earned her place in the gold medal race.
Vogel took the shine out of Varnish in the opening race of the gold medal Women’s Sprint final with a solid performance. The second race followed the same vein as Varnish attempted to go out early with the sprint only for Vogel to come back and take the win and secure gold.
James took the first of three races with a solid performance but Lee came back in the second to force a deciding duel.
World Cup standings after 2 round:
- LEE (19 points)
- VARNISH (18 points)
- JAMES (18 points)
Men’s Individual Pursuit
GOLD – Denmark (HANSEN) – 4:20.875
SILVER – Ireland (IRVINE) – 4:22.745
BRONZE – Spain (MUNTANER JUANEDA) – 4:28.429
Martyn Irvine and Lasse Norman Hansen went head-to-head for the gold. Hansen made the better start and grew a good lead by the first time check. The gap was not clawed back and the Dane took the win with ease – adding another gold medal to the Team Pursuit medal he achieved yesterday.
The bronze medal race started with Spanish rider David Muntaner Juaneda taking an early advantage and building a 2 second lead at the midway point. The gap was too much for the New Zealand rider Dylan Kennett to pull back and Muntaner Juaneda took the bronze.
World Cup standings after 2 round:
- HANSEN (12 points)
- IRVINE (10 points)
- MUNTANER JUANEDA (8 points)
GOLD – Germany (LISS)
SILVER – Australia (O’SHEA)
BRONZE – Spain (ELORRIAGA ZUBIAUR)
Omnium IV – 4km Individual Pursuit
Rank 1 Great Britain (DIBBEN) – 4:26.982
Rank 2 Belgium (DE KETELE) – 4:28.908
Rank 3 Australia (O’SHEA) – 4:29.699
Omnium V – Scratch Race 15km
Rank 1 Denmark (KRIGBAUM)
Rank 2 Kazakstan (LYALKO)
Rank 3 Japan (HASHIMOTO)
Omnium VI – 1km Time Trail
Rank 1 Germany (LISS) – 1:02.768
Rank 2 Australia (O’SHEA) – 1:03.475
Rank 3 Great Britain (DIBBEN) – 1:03.955
Great Britain’s Jonathan Dibben came out on top in the individual pursuit, placing him in sixth in the overall Omnium standings. The race saw Belgium’s Kenny De Ketele and Australia’s Glenn O’Shea finish second and third respectively.
The scratch race started with the home crowd hoping for a win by fancied Jonathan Dibben. He faced stiff competition in world champion Australia rider Glenn O’Shea who was involved in a number of break-away groups in the early stages. In the end it was Mathias Wichmann Krigbaum, Alexey Lyalko and Eiya Hashimoto who succeeded in lapping the main group and went on to claim the top 3 positions.
Heading into the last event of the Omnium, the table was tight at the top with only 2 points separating the top three. Dibben put in a solid time and ended up third behind rank 1 Lucas Liss and rank 2 O’Shea.
After some fantastic racing over the six events, Germany’s Lucas Liss was too strong for the competition, taking the gold medal with Australia’s World Champion O’Shea taking silver and Spain’s Unai Elorriaga Zubiaur with the last place on the podium in bronze.
World Cup standings after 2 round:
- LISS (12 points)
- SIMION (12 points)
- O’SHEA (10 points)
Laura Trott of Great Britain competes in the Women’s Omnium Points Race 20Km – ©Alex Broadway/SWPIX.COM
Omnium I – Flying Lap
Rank 1 Australian (ANKUDINOFF) – 14.340
Rank 2 Fullgass.org (OLABERRIA DORRONSORO) – 14.364
Rank 3 Poland (PAWLOWSKA) – 14.524
Omnium II – Points Race 20km
Rank 1 Bulguria (SHARAKOVA)
Rank 2 Lithuania (TREBAITE)
Rank 3 Mexico (ARREOLA NAVARRO)
Omnium III – Elimination Race
Rank 1 Great Britain (TROTT)
Rank 2 Poland (PAWLOWSKA)
Rank 3 Russia (BALABOLINA)
In the first of the women’s Omnium Flying Lap the current world champion came an unexpected fourth with the Australian, Ashlee Ankudinoff, taking the win with a solid performance.
Trott entered the Points Race as World and Olympic champion but faced tough competition from a strong field. In the end a couple 20 point lapping from the likes of Tatsiana Sharakova and Ausrine Trebaite were too much for Trott and she finished ninth.
The elimination race saw a rider go down hard and have to be taken off on a stretcher. After the restart Trott rode a great race with an enthralling sprint over the last lap to take the win.
The Omnium is set up well for the next stages tomorrow.
UK BBC Broadcast Times
Newport Velodrome – ©Dave Gratton AKA SunflowerDave (on Flickr)
For someone who always has a lot to say for himself, thinking what to write about is more difficult than I thought! I should hasten to add, that’s not because I can’t think of anything, it’s because I’ve got so many ideas running around in my head it’s so difficult to chose.
So my decision has been made for me because for the first time in weeks I have an hour or so to spare to put pen to paper (yes, I am actually writing this on paper) as I’m sitting in the stands watching my daughter Ffion take part in a Welsh Cycling youth track session. So the subject: the importance of good cycling facilities, specifically Newport Velodrome.
The difference this sporting facility has made to Wales is difficult to quantify, but if you look at the numbers of riders both before and after this facility was built who are at or on their way to the top of the cycling tree, it’s obvious that its impact has been massive! The same can be said of Manchester Velodrome and I am sure it will be the case with the Olympic Velodrome; we should also consider Herne Hill and the riders that have benefitted from that facility. What it shows it that good facilities really do make a difference to the progression of riders coming through the ranks, whatever their cycling discipline. Of course we also need champions to inspire youngsters into the sport, but we’ve got such a conveyor belt going at the moment there is no worry about these facilities being under used.
So what memories have I taken from Newport Velodrome over the last 8 or 9 years that I’ve been making the 30-minute drive from Abergavenny to get here?
Well I might as well start with my number one memory and also because “why shouldn’t women’s cycling be given priority over men’s for a change?” If I can find the photo to accompany this when I next go hunting in the attic I’ll post it at a later date, as even now I find it quite hard to believe. Picture this: a women’s keirin with six riders on the start line. In amongst the six, the current senior World Champion wearing her stripes Clara Sanchez. Also on the start line I think it was Sandie Clair. Next up to them, a few star struck young girls from the UK including two from Wales, my 13-year-old daughter Becky and Katie Curtis. I can’t recall another current senior world champion ever racing in Newport, so that line-up is implanted very firmly in my head. By the way, it was France first and second with Becky coming in third to the disbelief of the French coach, especially when finding out Becky’s age.
As for other memories of female competition in Newport, between 2006 and 2007 the Youth and Junior Track National Championships had such strong fields the racing really was fantastic to watch. Seeing Becky, Lizzie Armistead, Joanna Rowsell, Jess Varnish, Laura Trott, Dani King…(I could go on) racing against each other with Hugh Porter getting very excited on the microphone really was brilliant. Looking back now I honestly think you could see then who was going to make it to the top and they weren’t all winners. The look of determination in a rider’s eyes is something I believe is what sets them apart and that is something you can spot at a young age. If someone happens to win a Youth National Championship on the way to the top that’s nice, but ultimately you need to look at the bigger picture and remember it’s not a sprint, it takes a lot of time and effort to win at elite level. And that’s what people will remember; senior champions not 11-year-old ‘superstars’!
On that last point, some really bad memories for me have been watching young girls of Under 12 and Under 14 level attempting to break a National Record as if it was the be all and end all. They have been all kitted out with the best equipment money can buy and their parents have been shouting so loudly at them as if they were doing it themselves, but why? Many of those I have watched are either no longer riding or just riding now and again. And why provide the best equipment at such a young age? Good equipment yes, but keep the very best as a reward and as an incentive when they are racing at international level. I really would like to see some sort of equipment specification cap on all youth riders to make it more of a level playing field and to give them something to aim for.
While I’m in the process of airing my concerns, the other thing that really worries me is that young riders seem to be specialising on one cycling discipline at ever-younger ages and training to the detriment of their education. Youth sport should not be like that. If I could single out one young rider who has got the balance right and sets an example for other to follow it is Elinor Barker and look where she is now! Elinor has given most forms of cycling a go, but over the time I’ve known her and the family her education has come first. She’s obviously had coaching, but it has been Elinor’s drive and determination to succeed that has won her the Junior World Time Trial and of course her supportive parents (I believe there could be another reason and the same applies to Becky as well; both Graham, Elinor’s dad and myself are ardent Newcastle United followers and maybe it’s because the girls have never seen us celebrate the winning of a trophy that they are doing their bit to cheer us up!).
On the male side of things, at the same time as that outstanding crop of girls I mentioned the boys’ fields were also amazingly strong and they provided fantastic racing to watch. Jason Kenny, Peter Kennaugh, Alex Dowsett, Luke Rowe, Adam Blythe, Andy Fenn…(once again, I could go on) are just a few of the names that cycling fans would recognise from the Olympics and pro-peloton this last year. Despite many outstanding races and individual performances the one that stands out still after these years is Andy Fenn’s Youth 500 metre time trial. Here was someone mixing it up with the best youth riders this country had to offer in all the circuit races around the country and he was winning the endurance and pursuit events on the track. In the 500 metre time trail he was up against all the best youth sprinters in the country including current BC Academy sprint member Peter Mitchell. I can still picture him going around the track now. I seem to recall I was sitting in the stands next to Iain Dyer, National Sprint Coach and Trevor King, father of Dani and a few others and the first thing that came to my mind was that here was the person to follow in Jason Kenny’s footsteps. Well I was wrong on that front, but I really think he has the potential to be the next big road sprinter from GB. I am not saying that Andy will be another ‘Cav’, because I am not sure there’ll be another in my lifetime, but I am sure that he’ll be winning many races and stages over the next few years. Another rider I’ve watched in Newport in a similar mold to Andy is Sam Harrison, although he’s got a few years to catch up yet.
As recent as last winter I was sitting in the stands of Newport Velodrome watching the annual ‘Winter Track League’, which mixes all abilities up into different races, both male and female. In Wales we are very lucky indeed to not only have Elinor Barker coming up into the senior ranks, but we also have Amy Roberts. To see both Elinor and Amy mixing it up with the men in the ‘A’ league really is a great sight and I am really excited about the prospect of those two girls representing Wales and GB around the world over the next few years. The girls often found themselves riding in amongst elite men, well not just elite, but professional riders. Last year watching Luke Rowe, Magnus Backstedt, Jonny Bellis and many more on a Tuesday night with the rain hammering down on the velodrome roof, whilst sipping a cup of tea, is fascinating, enjoyable and a relaxing time in amongst my hectic lifestyle.
I have never been in Newport Velodrome with a full stand of spectators, but with the success of this last season and the accessibility of cycling stars to the general public I think I might get to see that over the next couple of years. What Newport needs is the right event to fill the stands, something that has got my mind running wildfire again! Now, if that event gives equal precedence to the women riders or better still star billing, wouldn’t that be amazing?
…Next time, whenever that will be, I’ll probably write about organising my first ever hill-climb and also about the importance and thrills of cyclocross.
Thanks for reading.