HAMMOND ON FORM IN FRANCO-BELGE
Britain’s Roger Hammond placed an impressive eighth in the first stage of the Circuit Franco-Belge yesterday against some of the sport’s top sprinters.
Hammond came eighth, his twelfth top ten result of the season, in the bunch sprint after a 213km stage from Templeuve to Mouscron, won by the American Tyler Farrar with Danilo Napolitano and Tom Boonen rounding out the podium.
Today’s 225km stage of the race starts in Maubeuge in France and finishes in Poperinge in Belgium.
COLLINS GUNNING FOR WORLDS SPOT
New Hope Factory signing Dave Collins has his sights firmly set on the National Trophy ‘cross series this season, as his ticket to riding the World Championships in the Czech Republic
“I’ve decided to get my head down a bit and get on with it this year,” said Collins.
“The Worlds are in Tabor this year and that’s the first place I ever did them, so I’m quite keen to see if I can get a spot again. Basically I think that means finishing top-three every time and then building towards the national championships.”
Collins led the series going into the final round last year, before falling to third. However, his failure to win a Trophy race last year also has fuelled the desire to finish first: “I want to cross the line with my arms in the air at some point this year – being the best Briton isn’t the same.”
After taking fourth at the opening round in Exeter, the 33-year-old is encouraged by his form: “Normally I’ve started fast, slowed and plateaued, but this year I’ve started a bit steadier.”
The Leicester-based rider is looking forward to a close-run National Trophy series, pointing to the closeness of the domestic field: “I don’t think Ian [Field] is that far ahead. Paul Oldham’s going well, Jody [Crawforth] is always going well. You look at the gaps: there’s not much time at all. One week you’re fourth, next time you could be first or eighth. It’s that open at the moment.”
Above: Collins (in last year’s SIS kit) is aiming high this season
BLYTHE FINDING SILENCE IS GOLDEN
British talent Adam Blythe is coming to the end of his tenure as a stagiaire with Silence-Lotto.
It is a good first chance to see the modus operandi of the ProTour team, before officially turning professional with them in 2010. Speaking to Cycling Weekly, he explained that he is enjoying the experience: “It’s pretty good, I’ve done some races in France and in Belgium.”
Blythe, who turned 20 yesterday, is also raring to race alongside the team’s big names at the Giro dell’Emilia next weekend: “I’m racing in Italy next week, with Cadel Evans and Philippe Gilbert. I’m going to ride for them and I’m looking forward to it,” added Blythe.
BRITS IN ITALY
Cyclo-cross action kicks off in Italy this weekend with the first round of the World Cup in Treviso.
Ian Field, who was a disappointing ninth in the first round of the National Trophy after puncturing, will represent Great Britain in the elite men’s race.
In the women’s race, Helen Wyman returns from a successful spell in the USA for her assault on the World Cup and her first race in Europe this season.
Wyman will be joined by Gabby Day, whilst Nikki Harris is out of action after crashing heavily at the World Championships last weekend.