DISTANCE 39 miles (63km)

MAIN CLIMB A bridge over the M62

TOTAL CLIMB 50m

ACHTUNG! Main road crossings

Sportscover is a new team in British elite races, but it has some very familiar names in it. John Tanner, Wayne Randle and Mark Lovatt ? veteran campaigners of the Planet X team ? have joined up with 25-year-old Ashley Brown, with Planet X providing bikes

and equipment.

The older Sportscover riders are famous for letting their legs do the talking, so it is no surprise that Brown has become the team spokesman. Brown also did a lot of the work to set up the team.

Sportscover is an Australian company which sponsored John Tanner when he rode the Commonwealth Bank Classic in Australia some years ago.

Brown is a former semi-pro rugby league player, who was training clients for triathlons in his day job as a personal trainer and thought he?d have a go. ?I found out that my bike splits were better than anyone else?s, so I got into cycling and now it?s taken over,? says Brown.

Learning curve

It took over to such effect that despite racing for only a couple of years, Brown got his first-category licence and is now riding some of the best races in Britain. The step up to Premier Calendar events has not been easy, although Brown says he has some of the best teachers he could wish for. ?I?ve learned a lot from John, Wayne and Mark. I don?t think I could be in a more experienced team.?

Brown rides from his Selby home to the meeting place for the training run. ?I just phone a few mates up to see who?s going out and we arrange where to meet. We try to do this kind of session on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but it depends on racing and who is working or not,? says Brown.

Today though, the training they do is going to be a weather-hit compromise. The group meet in Womersley, a village about 10 miles north of Doncaster, just one week after the summer floods. It?s still heavy-duty downpours.

When we get to Womersley, Randle and Tanner are already huddling in a bus shelter with other local riders, Kevin Dawson and Ken Cowdell.

Yorkshire has a reputation for breeding cycling champions and for evidence of it you need look no further than this group. Every one of them has been a national champion at some point in their careers, apart from Brown, but his time will come. Must be something in the water up there.

?I?m not stopping at the cafe,? states Tanner. This is going to be a serious workout snatched between the downpours, and it requires serious navigational skills to get around them.

These are provided by 59-year-old Cowdell, eight times national grass-track champion in his younger days and a regular veteran?s race winner since then. He has ridden the criss-cross of lanes of this area for years.

Captain Ken

This is good country for cyclists. The land between Doncaster and Selby is a dead-flat plain created by the many smaller rivers sluggishly making their way to the Trent, Ouse and Humber.

The roads are narrow but quiet. Great for group workouts like this, where the riders go through to the front and off in pairs, keeping the pace constantly high. No mean feat with ?Captain? Cowdell on the back, surveying the weather and yelling to go left or right at the junctions to avoid the showers.

The horizon here is dominated by the great power stations at Drax, Eggborough, Thorpe Marsh and Ferrybridge. And it?s power that has underscored Brown?s rapid rise. As soon as he started cycling he enlisted a coach and was attracted by the logic of: ?Training with a power meter 99 per cent of the time. I regularly do lactate tests to establish my power curve and set training zones according to that. In March 2006 my anaerobic threshold was 365 watts, then in March 2007 it was 390 watts and now 424 watts.?

That?s amazing progress and Brown hopes he can keep it going for at least another year. ?Combined with the massive learning curve I?ve had this year, that might lead to some bigger results,? he says.

It surely will. Brown has already taken a silver medal in the team time trial championships this year, riding with Tanner and Randle, and the company he keeps in training means he?s not short of experience to draw on.

Coupled with the logic he applies to his training it won?t be long before Brown takes his place on the bench at Womersley?s bus shelter of champions.

YOUR GUIDES:TEAM SPORTSCOVER-PLANET X

Sportscover provides specialist insurance to sports people, teams and event

organisers. Its website is www.sportscover.com.

The team?s website is www.teamsportscover.com.

The three older members have won more races between them than any team racing in Britain. Highlights include: John Tanner, represented Great Britain on 43 occasions; Wayne Randle, national team time trial champion four times; Mark Lovatt, six times winner of the Tour of The Peak.

WHICH WAY?

Start in Womersley and take the unclassified road east to cross the A19. Turn left (TL) to Pollington. Turn right (TR) and TL to A645. TR on A645 through Snaith, then turn TL on A614 to Rawcliffe.

TL at roundabout on A645. TL at roundabout outside Drax power station. TR on A1041. TL on unclassified to Burn. TL on A19 to Chapel Haddesley. TR on unclassified to Gateforth, TL to Birkin and Beal. Cross A645 to Cridling Stubbs and TL to Womersley.

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