FINALLY ! I'm back in the UK and back writing blogs again. It seems like a lifetime ago when I was last on here giving an update about how I was fairing throughout the pandemic. In my previous blog i hoped to have a few more exciting things to talk about and luckily since then and now there has been many great experiences and changes in my life, more good than bad, which will probably be a shock to most people in a year like this one.
Lets take it all the way back to the start of July when I set off to France for an action packed month with my team Van Rysel-AG2R La Mondiale U19. First stop was the Vercors Massif, we were based in a small town called Sainte-Eulalie-en-Royans. It was a perfect set up for the team and catered for all of our needs at this camp. The aim of this camp was to train at altitude and rack up the miles in the process. Its safe to say it was a real shock to the system for me riding in the proper mountains for the first time but i loved every second of it, The views were insane and 100% worth the pain! On the fifth day, after 20000ft of climbing in just 185 miles already endured, we set off for the big day. The ride started up Col de la Croix De Fer, a big descent and after some flat dual carriageway riding we arrived at the next climbCol du Télégraphe where I buried myself to stay with the climbers group only to find out 3 miles over the crest I was going to have to tackle Col du Galibier!! I think its safe to say that this ascent of Galibier was definitely one of the hardest things I've done on a bike due to the fatigue I came into the climb with, my time up the mountain proves that haha. After this we descended back to the carpark for around 15 miles which was a big relief, however when i arrived at the carpark i realised some of the riders were missing, only later was i told that a little group of them had gone to ride up Alp D'huez just to finish themselves off!
The camp wasn't just about riding however a lot of fun was had in the downtime! Due to the extreme heat we found ourselves heading to the local water spots to cool down. The camp was a massive boost of morale for the team and a sign of improvement in the quest of getting back racing.
From the the cobbles of Roubaix I headed to Jonzac, a small town just North of Bordeaux in the west of France as this is the place I would be calling home for the next year. My team mate Yanis Sequin and his family welcomed me with open arms when this situation was proposed to them by our staff and I am very grateful for what they're doing for me. I stayed at the house for a week, got to know the family, friends and the area in which I would spend the next year of my life in. I would be lying if I was to say I didn't love it there, just waking up to the view below each day sold it to me haha!
On the 22nd August it was finally time to say goodbye to my family for the next 3 and a half months, It was the longest time i had ever spent away from my family and was a really strange feeling at the airport when I waved goodbye. I was super excited but also very nervous to be starting at a new school and speaking minimal french at that time. However, I didn't go to my new home straight away, I headed to Clermont Ferrand for my first race since Covid-19 hit. After 1 plane and 4 different trains I made it some 11 hours later, its fair to say it wasn't the best preparation considering it was my first race back, the hilly nature of the course and that the french had been back racing for a few weeks at this point. I was also riding junior gears unlike the others in the race which made for very little rest on the descents. After a tough race I ended 10th and 4th junior only being beaten by 3 of my teammates. I was happy with this result considering my situation. From here we headed to the Jura mountain range for another weeks training camp. The aim of this camp was to get some more intensity into the legs now that racing was back underway but also to select the riders for the last few UCI races that were still on the calendar. It was once again a super tough camp with 20 hours of riding in the legs in just 6 days!
Next stop Jonzac! (my new hometown).
After arriving back to my new home at midnight, my team mate Yanis Sequin, it was straight to bed getting as much recovery as possible for another race day at the Tour des Landes. This time 150km with some of the best international U23 teams on the start list. It was full gas from the gun with all the teams wanting to get in the breakaway. Once the break had gone up the road it was left up to the Caja Rural U23 squad to chase as the they were to be the big losers otherwise with just 1 or 2 riders in a 14 man break. At the halfway marker, I was comfortable but could start to feel the weeks efforts setting in. Then after one of the KOM sprints and soon after a dropped chain, from this point onwards I was on the rivet until i reached the 3km circuit where I got what felt like a 2nd set of legs. It was a perfect situation coming into the final technical sprint. In the end I finished 16th, 2nd in the bunch kick, and 2nd junior as one of the best french juniors had managed to get in the days breakaway. This result was a big confidence booster for me especially after the week I had.
As we all know the highs don't come without the lows and just 3 days after the race I crashed whilst out training during an effort. All seemed to be okay and just gravel rash until the next morning when i woke up with a bad headache. Just a couple hours later i started to feel nauseous and immediately headed to the local hospital. For somebody who has only been sick once in my life I knew something wasn't quite right and so I was taken by ambulance to the city of Saintes to have a brain scan and was checked for concussion. Luckily test results came back clear for concussion but showed a blocked sinus which the hospital ruled as sinusitis. The next week was probably the worst I have been in terms of illness, which wasn't helped by my unknown allergy to the prescribed medication. Luckily, once on the correct medication, I started to recover just in time for my birthday so I was fit enough to have a little celebration.
Two weeks on from my illness I was back racing another 1st,2nd,3rd category race, this time it was the Tour du Brissac. It was due to be a tough race with crosswinds right from the start. After 5km I was stuck behind a big crash which spread across the whole road, it was a less than ideal start but I made my way back to the peloton only to suffer a front flat tyre. I waited on the side of the road for my wheel but the team my wheels were with didn't stop. I waited for 2 minutes at the roadside before I was able to receive a wheel. Now it was time to chase the convoy which was out of sight at this point. After around 20 minutes full on chasing i joined the back of the race convoy and then it was about picking off the cars slowly but in the crosswinds it was not the easiest of tasks bearing in mind the way the french attack the first hours of racing I was shocked that I had even managed to reach this point. After hitting the hour mark jumping from car to car and being within touching distance of the peloton we reached a small drag and an attack went over the top which I was unable to follow my legs blew up and that was the end of my race and the end of my season!
I think its fair to say that this year didn't turn out to be what everyone had planned for, however I am extremely grateful for the support I received from family, my Team staff, Team mates, sponsors and mates to make this year as best as possible in the given situation. I have managed to make the best out of a bad situation and create many unforgettable memories, all whilst still managing to get some racing in the legs post Lockdown.
I would also like to say a massive shoutout to Pedal Potential who continued to support me and all their other riders even when times got tough and without their support a lot of what was achieved wouldn't have been possible.
Check out the gallery for more pictures from this years travels and be sure to keep your eyes peeled for another blog post coming in the next few weeks where I will talk about life in France, plans for 2021, and some exciting news on a new team sponsor!
After almost three months worth of lockdown in the Uk, I thought it would be a good time to update you on my life and how I've been spending my time here the past three months. When I last update my blog I was talking about how excited I was to be racing The Danilth Nokere Koerse which would've been my first ever UCI race, however just the day before I was due to fly out to Belgium it kind of fell apart. The race was cancelled along with the vast majority of races that were on my calendar. After not being satisfied with my performances in a few National B races at the very start of the season i decided to grab the opportunity of training full time and I am really happy with the progress i have made over the past 3 months..
One thing i have been enjoying throughout lockdown is having my brothers Isaac and joseph home from Uni, their company on rides has been great although now its only joe as isaac managed to break his collarbone in a crash a few weeks ago so its back to the pain cave for him!
With no idea when the season may restart my plan is to carry on training hard and efficiently so that whenever it may start I will be ready !
My team Van Rysel - AG2R La Mondiale have been a great support through such a difficult time. They have made sure each rider is able to keep the best possible mental and physical state whilst also helping us learn new things through video calls with current/ex-professional cyclists. We have had the massive opportunity to hear what it is like in the pro peloton i.e top tips and nutritional advice from Valentin Madouas, Pierre Moncorge, Benoit Cosnefroy, Geoffrey Bouchard, David Gaudu and Shara Marche to name a few. Their help through this time has been second to none and I would like to thank everyone in the team that has helped out.
Another activity I got up to was building up my new Van Rysel frame with all the sponsors parts. I think it looks great!
Below are a few more photos from my travels throughout lockdown. I hope everyone is staying safe and enjoyed reading about what i got up to these past few months. I hope that in my next blog I will have a few more exciting things to talk about!
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.