January was a very productive month for me, it all kicked off with a small training camp in Léoncel, France. It was the second training camp with my new team Van Rysel - AG2R La Mondiale, the main focus for this camp was mechanics based. The first activity we did was to build up our new race bikes with as little help from the mechanic as possible, and to be honest with you I was pleasantly surprised with how well I managed it considering I'm an amateur at mechanics haha. After we all had our bikes built and had learnt the ins and outs of the new Di2 group sets we had a brutal two days ahead of us to get in some quality training !
The whole trip was a great experience for me due to the mountainous terrain we were surrounded by, it was like a whole new world for me as I'm used to the 5 minute climbs of the Lancashire lanes not the 40 minute climbs of Léoncel.
Once I had returned to the UK I decided to make the trip down to Matt Hallam at Crimson Performance where I had a professional bike fit on my new race bike in preparation for the season ahead. I couldn't rate his services highly enough, I contacted him regarding knee pain I was experiencing and since the fit all pain has been erased and I'm feeling a lot more comfortable on the bike as well as achieving an aerodynamic advantage. His services are trusted by the pro's, one of the most recent being Tour Down Under stage 6 winner Matt Holmes.
For anyone experiencing pain/discomfort whilst riding or even someone just wanting to save a few extra watts I would highly recommend you check out Crimson Performance.
To round off a very productive month of both training and race prep for the upcoming season, I raced my first race as a junior at the HSBC UK | National Track Championships. My first goal of the season was to qualify for the scratch race final, so to pull it off I was really happy and it showed the work I had put in over the winter had paid off!
February was a very quiet month to begin with, mainly consisting of lots of hours of training. However, on the 21st February I headed out to Cambrils, Spain with my team. The camp was part of our final preparations before the season starts for us on 12th March at the Danilth Nokere Koerse UCI race in Belgium. The camp lasted for a week and it was the perfect way for me to get some solid hours in the saddle and boost morale heading into the biggest race of my young career so far. The camp was not just about training though, it was about bonding even more as a team and creating a great relationship with every one of the riders and staff. For me it was tough due to suffering from illness the week before but I loved every second of it and I feel it will play a key part to my performances in the early part of this season.
I'd just like to say a massive thank you to all the staff of Van Rysel - AG2R La Mondiale for a great week, and to all the teams sponsors for providing us with some of the best kit available which will help us achieve our goals.
To finish off this blog I'm happy to announce that in 2020 I am going to be supported by Pedal Potential alongside my team and its sponsors. I'm really grateful for the opportunities I am being given this year as it wouldn't be possible without them both!
For my first blog I have decided to give you a summary of how my 2019 season went. This year it was my final year as a youth rider, it'll definitely be a strange feeling leaving the youth crit racing scene and moving onto the bigger junior road races, but i am looking forward to seeing what next season will bring for me as I race in the biggest junior UCI races on the calendar alongside my new team mates in Van Rysel - AG2R La Mondiale.
Signing for Van Rysel was probably one of my best achievements, and I'm happy to say that I will will be racing in their colours for my two seasons in the junior category.
I started off the 2019 season great, coming off the back my first full winter of structured training. I went into the first round of the National Series, the Pembrey 2 day, with some decent form. In the prologue i ended up 6th, then in the afternoon i followed this up with a 3rd from a bunch sprint. On the Sunday, I won the bunch sprint for 2nd, after a solo rider managed to stay away.
Next up was the Scottish Cycling Youth Tour Of Scotland, this was the weekend after Pembrey 2 day so I carried my form into it. On stage 1 the conditions were perfect for me (cold and wet) and after a hard fought race I eventually finished in 2nd place. Stage 2 was the team time trial, we ended up finishing third. Later that afternoon was stage 3 where i finished 2nd. On stage 4, I lined up on the start as the overall race leader and leader of the points classification, however after a hard stage i was only able to hold onto the points jersey. And as a team The Green Jersey RT won the race overall, the points classification and the team classification.
After a successful start to the season I went to Belgium for a little race weekend with the rest of The Green Jersey team. It was my first ever international race and I wasn't sure what to expect. After a few sighting laps I knew i liked the course, it was very open, had a cobbled finish straight and a few dodgy corners. After two laps I followed a move up the small drag to the finish without using much energy, so when it got into the town I launched my attack on the other side of some road furniture so it was impossible for me to be followed. At one point i had extended my lead to 1 minute 30 seconds, and after 45km solo I won my first international race 33 seconds ahead of the peloton.
A couple months passed and many more great results came for example winning the North West Circuit Championships after lapping the peloton on the final lap. Although that was a strong performance, I was particularly proud of how I rode at the HSBC UK Youth National Circuit Championships at Oliver's mount race track in Scarborough. Considering it was a hilly course that was not suited to me at all, to finish 7th just off the front of the main group was a big achievement for me and something I was really happy with!
Until the penultimate round of the national series I had not placed any worse than 8th in a national event this year, however whilst racing a local E,1,2,3 crit i crashed on the final corner, i managed to walk across the line to finish 6th but the damage i had done was worse than expected and i ended up in hospital for 4 days and off the bike for another 3 weeks. this meant I missed out on racing the National Omnium Championships, that i had qualified first for in the North of England region. I didn't want to force myself back on a bike and cause myself worse injuries in the long run, the 25th July was my first time back on the bike and I only managed 10 minutes on the bike but on the 29th I was due to start arguably the biggest youth race out there, Jeugd Tour Assen. The prologue was the first stage and it was the first effort i had done since my crash so for me to still finish 7th was a big surprise. Stage 2 was a shock to the system with a constant high pace and having lost a bit of confidence in the group since the crash i ended up 11th. Stage 3 was the Classics stage, and as it was a point to point I had not had a chance to recce the course so when the cobbled sector came up I was poorly placed. The group started to split up badly so i took the chance to move up down the side of the cobbles, I made my way up to around 8th place before I hit 3 potholes in a row and ended up with a cracked rim and a puncture. I waited for every rider to pass , then the first three cars drove straight past me so by the time I was back on my bike i had around 2 minutes to chase back. Eventually after around 25km of chasing i made it back to the group and managed to hang on until the finish. On stage 6 I managed to win the big bunch kick, unfortunately a break was up the road and I finished 5th, and 10th on General Classification which I was still happy with.
After The Jeugd Tour Assen I struggled a lot with fitness and I came into the HSBC UK youth National Track Championships with less than ideal form. I underperformed all week but somehow managed to come away with a 5th in the madison after a hard race. Then it was onto the penultimate round of the Road National series The North West Youth Tour (my home Race), this was probably my worst race of the season placing outside of the top 10 riders for the first time this year ending up 23rd overall. However I did manage to find a bit of legs over the next few weeks and finished 2nd in the inter regional championships road race after a very tight sprint.
After an action packed 2019, I'm super excited to see what 2020 has install for me with my new team
Van Rysel - AG2R La Mondiale, But first I'd like to say a massive thank you to The Green Jersey CC. For the past 3 years. They have supported and helped shape me into the rider i am today. Every year supporting me with kit and bikes whilst also making sure my bikes were running smoothly. Go and check out their website by clicking on the link below :
On the 2nd of January I'm off to France for a small camp to pick up the new kit and bikes, after that I finish off my training to prepare for the HSBC UK Senior Track National Championships in Manchester where I'm sure I'll pick up some great experience.