BEN SWIFT SET TO STAR AT EDDIE SOENS MEMORIAL
Team Sky rider Ben Swift is set to star at Saturday’s 49th Eddie Soens Memorial, one of the long-standing linchpins of the early season racing calendar.

The Rotherham local is scheduled to ride in the scratch group alongside the likes of Dan Fleeman (Team Raleigh), four-time winner Tony Gibb (CyclePremier.com-Metaltek) and Motorpoint pair Ed Clancy and Andy Tennant in the race, which is based at Aintree Racecourse.

Meanwhile, the British road racing season got underway on Sunday with the Clayton Velo Classic; the report can be seen here.

MILLAR LOOKS BACK ON HET NIEUWSBLAD

A great amount of media attention was justifiably paid to Team Sky over this weekend, from Flecha’s fine win at Het Nieuwsblad, to Stannard’s third place the following day and Russell Downing’s debut. It was easy to forget that a more established and experienced British pro was also riding his first edition of Het Nieuwsblad – Garmin man David Millar.

“I went to Paris-Roubaix last year thinking ‘I’ve got to give this a go, for the experience if nothing else,’ so when the opportunity arose this season, I took it,” he said.

“I thought I’d dip my toe in, as such, and just help the guys out, and I ended up really enjoying it and feeling good. You can’t relax for a second, you’ve got to be ready to go at any moment. It’s completely different to what I’m used to.”

“I definitely had the legs and the condition to be up there with Ty [Farrar, who finished third], but my job was to take care of Martijn Maaskant, our number one guy. He had a bit of a shocking day – it happens to all of us – and it meant that I was in the wrong position at the wrong time and was chasing it all over the place.”

David Millar
Millar in full flight last year

Beforehand, Millar had endured a rotten Tour of the Algarve. He suffered food poisoning, the racing was savage – he dubbed it “a mini Paris-Nice” – and crashed in the race-concluding time-trial, ripping his skinsuit.

“You can plan as much as you like in the winter but it just takes a couple of things to go wrong and it all goes pear-shaped. Fortunately, I’ve come out of it OK and had a lot of fun at Het Volk,” he reasoned.

Millar now turns his attentions to Paris-Nice, which starts on Sunday. After his experience in Portugal and considering the unpredictability of the eight-stage race, Millar was unwilling to set any rigid targets.

“You have to take it day by day, even hour by hour. I want to be at the front and be a protagonist – we’ll see what happens.”

CICLE CLASSIC HAS LONGER AND TOUGHER ROUTE

Already billed as England’s answer to Paris-Roubaix, this year’s East Midlands International CiCLE Classic looks set to be even harder, with the addition of 10 kilometres to the race route and a second ascent of the Cold Overtonberg.

Coming after the first passage of the renowned Somerberg section, it’s hoped that the additional climb will give another opportunity to breakaways.

Ian Wilkinson wins CiCLE
Ian Wilkinson takes victory in last year’s CiCLE Classic

“Over the past five years the CiCLE Classic has built its reputation as the race to win, and in 2010 as once again Britain’s only single day international road race, we have even more to prove by being bigger and better, and showing that it is not just Britain’s best road race, but also Britain’s biggest international race on that day,” said race director Colin Clews.

As it stands, at least ten foreign teams are down to take part in the Rutland-based race, with the likes of Glud & Marstrand Horsens, Asfra Racing Team, Team Deschuytter, Ruiter Dakkapellen, AC Sparta Praha and an Irish national side already confirmed.

This year’s race takes place on Sunday April 25.

RAPHA INTRODUCE RANGE OF ICONIC RANDONEES

Putting their passion for cycling into a new pursuit, cycling clothes and accessorymakers Rapha, in partnership with La Fuga, are organising their own unique randonnées, taking in some of the most iconic and beautiful climbs and locations in Europe.

Each one will consist of six days of consecutive riding, covering between 80 and 100 miles each day. At night, the randonneurs can dine on superb local cuisine in regional accommodation.

Currently, three Rapha trips, which will run twice each, are taking place to Europe’s choice mountain ranges: the Randonée Appenini, the Randonée Alpine and the Randonée Pyrénéenne.

The routes are a mouth-watering prospect for any cycling fan, taking in legendary climbs like Alpe d’Huez, the Izoard, the Tourmalet, the Aubsique and Monte Petrano.

Prices for the week-long trips start at £2,500.

For more info, visit http://www.rapha.cc/rapha-randonnees.

SHUTT VELO RAPIDE BACK ORBEA-FGS!
UK cycling clothing specialist Shutt Velo Rapide today announced a sponsorship deal with the Orbea-For Goodness Shakes! team.

They will provide both the men’s and women’s teams with merino Sportwool racing jerseys from their new line, which features a range of made-to-measure jerseys, technical gilets and bib shorts.

The deal will also see Team Orbea-For Goodness Shakes!, which contains the likes of Rebecca Romero and Andy Lyons, help test and develop their clothing ranges.

Team manager, James Whatling, commented: “This is a fantastic chance for Orbea-For Goodness Shakes! to work with a company that shares the same ethos and vision as the team”. He added, “it’s a privilege for the team to be asked to work on the research and development of Shutt VR clothing”.

ROLLAPALUZA WINTER LEAGUE FINALE
The final round of Rollapaluza’s popular and fiercely-contested Brass Monkey Winter League was held last Thursday at Herne Hill’s Half Moon Pub.

Fittingly, series leaders Miles Stovold and Dorchie Cockerell won the men’s and women’s competitons to claim overall victory in imperious fashion.

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