The first round is over and it’s a clean sweep for Rapha- Condor-Sharp. Now on to the five hour drive down to the new Tour Series venue of Aberystwyth.
The hardest bit about the Tour Series is not the racing or the late nights: it’s the travelling. So, how to entertain yourself in the car?
I have done many years of travelling, and my main occupation on drives is Twitter and doing my emails [not while driving, we hope! – Ed]. Social media is great, except for the times you lose 3G and frantically hope for the signal to stay as you write an interesting Tweet.
Service station banter
The best bit of the journeys for me are the service station stops. Same goes for my teammate Graham Briggs – if it involves food, he loves it. Zak Dempster asked the question “what would you give up first, food or sex?”
Sex was the answer, no delay whatsoever. He is getting married in eight weeks time, so maybe this is preparation!
A refuel was on the cards at Knutsford Services, and a mass chain coffee that is well below par. To be fair, I am something of a coffee snob. On the plus side M&S has Percy Pigs on offer. They are a culinary extravaganza, a favourite of mine, my girlfriend [model and podium girl Lauren Bason] and, I am told, teammate Dean Windsor.
We wait for a short while for Ed Clancy. I can surely count on him to help me munch through my Percy Pigs.
The rest of the journey is spent playing Briggsy’s favourite game: “Name That Tune”. He bounces around like a human trampoline and leans over the front seat like a lap dog, shouting out the tunes as soon as he can.
A bet been placed for a coffee between him and Zak. Briggsy wins. But from observing this game we notice he has developed sly methods to help him gain those vital few points. Like turning the radio up just a bit on a new song then down again while he thinks of the song.
Or, just as someone starts to say something and gets the first letter out, he shouts out something similar, usually getting it right. I think it’s called cheating!
Wednesday afternoon was filled with simple tasks: rest and a little bike ride. But most of the time went on sorting my kit bag out. Like Ian Bibby and Ed Clancy, as soon as I get to a hotel room, it explodes everywhere.
I used to get told off for it on the Academy and still haven’t learn my lesson. I need to take the example of Kristian House or Ben Swift.
After tea, we watched the Tour Series on ITV4, waiting to watch Jon Tiernan Locke’s crash – Ed shouted “chute terriblè” – then it was the Apprentice and bed.
Gone with the wind in Wales
Breakfast was nothing special, Briggsy wasn’t impressed. It was then onto the rollers for myself for a quick spin. The road was out the question: when we looked at going out, it was hammering it down. Soft, I know!!
The race started. Windy is an understatement, I can tell you. Racing had been delayed and eventually had to be shortened due to the strong gust of wind coming in at over 100 kilometres an hour.
It was ridden flat out from the start, sticking to the plan. We had placed Kristian on the front row of the grid to cover the early moves.
With the wind blowing hard down the finish straight, the race was strung out from the start, making riders rapidly go up the block from the downhill corner on to it.
I picked my way up through the bunch to the front and was trying to follow moves, although Kristian and Ed were doing the majority by just being that bit further up front.
Tactical tour de force
The difference in the Tour Series is you need to assess who is in that break, how many of each team, which riders and whether to chase it down.
Finally a group of three got away, including Ed Clancy. They held a small gap for a fair few laps and another three riders bridged the gap. With Clancy are best sprinter in there, I was confident he could bring home the win.
I was concentrating on my own race, sat second wheel for the last few laps with Kristian House on my wheel till the final corner. I let Wilko lead out and gave him get a gap accidently. I was coming at him until my gear slipped and fell back: second in the bunch kick, Kristian third.
We rolled over the line to hear that Ed had won and some quick calculations led me to believe we had won the team round again.
Not just the team overall lead too, but Kristian had taken the points. We had won everything – for a second time. We were made up.
I felt like Leonardo Di Caprio in Titanic on the top of the podium though as we all hung on to each other to try and stay upright as the wind blew even harder than during the race.
Complacency is not going to be seen within the Rapha-Condor-Sharp camp. Yes, we have won the first two rounds but there are six to go and we want the series.
If we do pull it off, it will be the first time Rapha-Condor-Sharp has won the series and mine and Ed’s third.
We are planning to take each round as it comes and race for the win each time.
Now it’s simply home time as I type this article from the back of the team Skoda.
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