News Round-Up

Froome Changes Mind and Goals:

Having previously been touted to avoid 2015’s Tour de France due to a lack of time trials, Chris Froome is now rumoured to not only be set to compete in France but also ride September’s subsequent Vuelta too. The British rider rode both of the afore mentioned Grand Tours in 2014 due to his horrendous misfortune suffered in the opening week of the Tour de France, leaving him with a shot at the Vuelta in order to save his season. Froome exceeded expectation in Spain, riding himself into some solid form which saw him secure a podium place despite falling short of Alberto Contador’s attacking prowess. With an ill-fitting Tour de France and recent good experiences from riding the Vuelta, Chris Froome looks set to ride both again in 2015, but with a stronger aim upon September’s Grand Tour due to hosting a favourable time trial for the Sky man compared to Le Tour.


Alonso is Still Dreaming:

The closest thing to a rock and roll superstar joining the world of cycling was expected to be Formula 1’s Fernando Alonso starting his own professional racing team at WorldTour level. The Spaniard’s attempts to get a new team registered in the last year have been repeatedly unsuccessful and now it appears we are set to wait even longer for ‘Team Alonso’. Despite securing a license from the outgoing Euskaltel-Euskadi team and then backing from Middle Eastern financiers, the plan is on the rocks yet again with confirmation that there will be no team in 2015.

York Get Their Sums’ Wrong:

It does not take much prompting from the world of cycling to agree just how great a success Yorkshire’s Grand Depart was for Britain, though it has come to light that this was not necessarily mirrored in the finances. Large underestimation’s of how many stewards and barriers would be required was one such glaring miscalculation, but the greatest error came in the shape of an £187,000 loss for the so-called ‘Grand Departy’ which cost £206,000 to organise but returned less than £20,000. Despite such poor planning, the experience of hosting the Tour’s departure seems to have left its mark upon Yorkshire; helping to raise the county’s profile internationally and boost the profits of local businesses.


Blythe Wins His First ‘Classic’

Sunday saw the second edition of the RideLondon Classic, the capital’s Olympic legacy road race which traces the route of 2012’s original course through the Surrey countryside before finishing upon The Mall once more. With a race still so new to the calendar it was always going to be difficult to calculate who would win or even whether or not we would see a solo, breakaway or bunch finish by the end of the day.

By lunchtime most of the RideLondon course had experienced a summertime downpour of torrential proportions, flooding roads and shifting all manner of debris onto the course. Bearing these conditions in mind, pre-race favourites such as Team Sky’s Ben Swift and BMC’s ex-World Champion Philipe Gilbert seemed even more likely to be key protagonists as the race approached its vital moments.

The obligatory early skirmishes, so familiar to the British domestic scene, had encouraged former British Champion Kristian House to try his luck at making it into a major breakaway – but no luck. During the peloton’s passage through Richmond Park around the 13km mark, six riders finally formed the escapees and would dangle off the front of the chasing group for most of the day, with the lead being allowed to grow upwards of three minutes at points. The sole representative of the UK scene to make the breakaway was Velosure Giordana’s Steve Lampier, who soon made his intentions to take the day’s King of The Mountains title clear. Despite a a few challenges by his companions, Lampier put in a consistent performance to earn himself a podium place on The Mall. 

The Domestic Scene Was Well Represented On The Podium.

The domestic scene was well represented on the podium.

The chasing peloton let the breakaway have their day contesting the KOM and Sprint competitions before Team Sky applied Ian Stannard and Bradley Wiggins to the front with devastating effect. Reeling in the six man breakaway with the ease of a nine man Grand Tour team, rather than the six man limit the race’s teams found themselves having to cope with. Despite all riders coming back together in the peloton, things began to deteriorate rapidly once again as an 11 man breakaway got free. This contained some of the day’s marked men; Ben Swift, Philipe Gilbert, Sam Bennett and Scott Thwaites, as well as interesting outsiders such as Orica-GreenEDGE prospect Caleb Ewan and an OPQS duo of Steegmans and Alaphilippe.

The large group struggled to keep an organised pace-line functioning throughout its early freedom, something which contributed to Philipe Gilbert’s subsequent attack through Wimbledon – scything the frontrunners down to six. No sooner had this smaller unit formed when the BMC man attacked again, finding himself breaking free of the rest with Frenchman Alaphilippe, the OPQS making his commitment to the attack very clear to Gilbert. For a while this appeared to be a decisive move, Ben Swift looked reluctant to expend too much energy closing the gap with Adam Blythe of NFTO as Cannondale’s Koren took the smallest of turns. Regardless of the initial confusion, the three man chasing group eventually co-ordinated their catch neatly as the five breakaway riders came together once more into Putney.


Gilbert and Alaphilippe distance their fellow escapees.

Gilbert and Alaphilippe distance their fellow escapees.

Cat and mouse games soon ensued as the break passed through Admiralty Arch and onto The Mall to contest the winning sprint for 2014’s RideLondon Classic. Koran was poorly placed at the front, immediately spoiling his chances of a shock win, but while Gilbert and Alaphilippe worried about Swift, Swift worried about Blythe; who was sitting last wheel by now. The two Yorkshiremen have spent years racing against one another and Ben Swift was all too aware of how quick his fellow man can be – yet he still was not ready. Jinking out from behind Swift, Adam Blythe unleashed a turn of pace usually seen on the track rather than after 200km of racing, opening a huge gap and cutting back onto the barriers once ahead of the group. It only took a moment to realise nobody was going to deny Blythe this major win since stepping down from the WorldTour, with Swift holding onto second and Alaphilippe taking third. Not only a huge result for the man from Sheffield, but also a great statement for the strength of the British domestic racing scene.

A major result for Adam Blythe and NFTO Racing.

A major result for Adam Blythe and NFTO Racing.