Tom Copeland is supported by the John Ibbotson fund and this year rides for Division 1 Espoir team BIC2000 in France. The youngster from Surrey tackles the biggest race of his career this week, the Tour of Brittany.
“Brittany pulled out all the stops today to make it one hell of a tough day in the saddle! From the off it started raining and with a fairly stiff crosswind all day we were in for a fun one. I can keep this short because there isn?t much to shout about on my part as after about 60km I realized I had left my legs back in the hotel as the cold settled in. Before this I was going fine, up the front, followed a couple of moves and feeling generally comfortable but I was soon in trouble.
“I couldn?t tell you what happened in the second half of the race as I was either sitting just on the back (of what was a pretty well strung out peloton all day) if not I was just surviving in the cars. Twice I dropped back into the cars but made it back into the peloton before the final hill before the finish circuits on which I found the grupetto and rolled in for the last 25/30km eventually coming in 17 minutes down but happy to have finished for the day. As it happens there was already a grupetto after about 25km in the crosswinds so I wasn?t even in the last group, and with 18 abandons for the day you could tell the weather had taken its toll! Roll on tomorrow, more of the same apparently.
“The winner for the day was Laurent Mangel from the local continental team Besson Sojason, taking a solo win 22 seconds in front of a small group, after which team leader Clement Mahé rolled in amongst the second group at just over a minute.”
“After a rough day yesterday I wasn?t sure how I was going to be going today and had a slight fear of going pop early on if the cold had properly nailed me yesterday! However after a brisk start with a powerful break of four clipping away early on, things calmed a little as the teams hit the front to reel in the break. With mainly a head wind it was fairly easy to sit in and get the legs back.
“The stage today had six good KOMs on which I found I was climbing fairly well. However after a short but very sharp climb our team leader was stuck in a split behind and I decided to hang around to give him a hand. After a hard chase back on with a few other riders we got back on to the back of the peloton but my legs were hanging. A small group of us were then gapped at the back of the peloton and another chase was on. We got back on to the back of the group again but just as soon as we hit a wall where the grupetto formed over the top and that was it for the day. The last 40/50km were easy, or so I thought. I think some of the guys with me wanted to get home quickly.”
“170km today with a few good KOMs thrown in for good measure. After a fast start I got myself across to a split of about 30-odd and we soon pulled out a good gap but there were too many sitters on and the group split in two with Clement and myself in the second half, the wrong half! After trying to close the gap and realizing it wasn?t going to happen we were swallowed up by the peloton and the chase was on straight away as there were some motors in the front group. After the last KOM at 100km in we hit the front with the gap at just under two minutes and gave a helping hand to the leaders team as we weren?t represented up front either.
“I re-found my legs that I had lost the previous two days and spent the next 30-odd km with six or seven others and brought the gap down to 40 seconds on the entry to the finish circuits. However while giving it some on the front, we caused some splits behind one of which included our team sprinter but we didn?t wait as he wasn?t feeling top. On the finish laps the sprinters teams took over and closed the gap but Jimmy Engoulevent attacked his breakaway companions and held his gap to the line with the sprint for second arriving on his wheel on the line. I finished cool in 41st position of what was left of the peloton and all in all had a good day on the bike. Promising for tomorrow’s 24km TT.”