After going out to recce the course the Sunday before I knew exactly what was in store for today. A tough 125km of grippy roads and some big climbs 🙂
That’s right you guessed it, a huge bowl of overnight oats got me out of bed and packing the car just before we left at 8am to get to the race HQ for 9am, where we met up with the rest of the Welsh Cycling team. Riders – Dan, Rhys and Ethan; Support Crew – Stuart, John, Archie and Luke.
Really proud to be wearing a Welsh jersey once more.
The atmosphere was pretty chilled at the race HQ. The team helped Dan hand out some Backstedt Bike Fit fliers, before signing on, getting changed and heading over to the rollers to get a warm up in – well apart from Dan who only needs to listen to a bit of Ariana Grande to warm up (whatever floats ya boat I suppose).
First on the race agenda was a big 48km loop through Abergavenny and then to the 22km finishing loop of Grosmont, which we completed 3 .5 times.
About 10km into the race a group of 4 containing Dan (Wales) , James Tillett (Giant Halo Films), Joshua Sandman and a rider from MDCC drifted off the front of the race. While still on the main loop a few riders including Joe Nally bridged across.
The main bunch were moving quite slowly and I knew the time gap would be significant.
When we went past the finish in Grosmont for the first time we were given a time check of 3:30 mins. Thats when I knew I had to attack and get clear on the climb.
When I got to the top of the climb I looked around and it was only Ben Healy on my wheel. We worked together well and by the time we came round the next lap the leaders were only 1: 30 min off the front.
We were constantly picking off riders that were being dropped from the break. With 1 lap to go we had the break down to almost a minute.
With half a lap to go we were only 20 seconds off the back and we had them in our sight. That’s when Joe Nally started to attack the break, which pushed the lead group further ahead.
Ben and I kept driving to try and get across. We caught Josh Sandman and we could see Dan, as we hit the bottom of the climb for the last time. I knew I had to go early so I attacked up the steep part of the climb and gave one massive effort.
I rolled in 40 seconds off Joe and 6 seconds behind Dan.
Chapeau to the two of them for attacking so early and holding it, especially Dan who was out there the longest.
It was one of the best parcours I’ve done all year and the atmosphere in Grosmont was unbelievable – bunting, painted bikes, a real party atmosphere, with so many people standing along the course.
I really enjoyed the race – very special.
Thanks to the village for making it so special and of course the organisers, Commissaires, the NEG crew and everyone else that pitches in.
I’d also like to take moment to remember a good friend and fellow cyclist Pete Donnelly who died this weekend. We all shared a lot of laughter and shared experiences on the bike. RIP Pete, we’ll all miss you.
Photo Credits: Alex Reed