Halfords Tour Series blog: Chris Opie in Redditch

Cycling Weekly will have a rider blogging from every round of this year’s Tour Series, offering insight, comment and humour from the fast-paced proceedings.

UK Youth’s fast-finisher Chris Opie tells us about the perfect pre-crit meal, dodgy descenders and how the team celebrated Niklas Gustavsson’s big win in Redditch.

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It was great to cross the finish line last night to hear Niklas had won. He likes his uphill finishes, in particular, and is a lot more powerful than people think he is. We stayed in Shrewsbury after the race, which cut down our travelling to Aberystwyth for tonight’s round. Everyone was understandably happy – I had a celebratory massage after we got back to the hotel! There wasn’t any champagne or anything excessive – if we win a few more races in the back of the series, who knows, that could change!

It’s nice for the guys to be competitive. The start of the season for us was really tough as most of us fell ill. We knew we could do well this year and now we’re fit we’re showing that. Our position on the overall ranking is pretty tight, and had we not have had our problems in Durham that second place may have been a bit safer for us. We organised ourselves pretty well on the last few laps last night, and we made sure we knew where everyone else was. Second place was good, but no-one goes into the races going for second place. It will be amazing if we can one win, and all it takes is a top performance on the night. It will be nice to be the first team to beat Endura.

We all stayed either at home or close to them after Tuesday’s round in Oxford. Yesterday started normally: you get up, have breakfast (normally fruit and cereal, which is really important) and then go out on the bike. It was only a small ride about an hour -it gets your head ready, allows your legs to wake up. You don’t need to eat too much; it is only an hour race after all. You try and relax after that, and I try and get down to the circuit a few hours beforehand in case you need to do anything with your bike. I’m quite happy with a sandwich or some bread rolls around 3.30/4pm for “dinner”. Two or three bread rolls are good. You want to get to the startline with something in you but you don’t want your stomach to still be digesting it. It’s all about finding the balance, really.

The Tour Series rounds are probably the most chilled-out events we do all year. It’s quite amazing how much time you actually get to take everything all in. You sometimes have two hours before you even have to get changed and start warming up. As a rider, that’s great.

We’ve all got the road book, but until you get there and ride around you don’t really know that much about the circuits. You can’t tell the cambers of the bends and the warm-up. Last night was quite tough, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. It’s quite funny, you always hear rumours going round about the new venues. I really enjoyed the

descent which came just after the start/finish line, that was good fun. Although there’s certain riders you try not to follow on those sections because you know what they’re like going downhill!

I wasn’t on the team bus heading to Aberystwyth this morning – I was actually in my own car with my son and fiancee. They stayed with us last night – this has been the first week of the series that they’ve been able to come along to . It’s always a big motivator to have them here – you always want to do well in front of your family. If our luck keeps on going this way we’ll get them to wear UK Youth skinsuits at the next few races!

The finish in Aberystwyth has been on my mind this morning, as I could have won had I have positioned myself a bit better last year. Let’s hope for two out of two tonight!