Ribble Pro Cycling’s Dan Bigham had the dream start to his UCI stage racing career, winning the most active rider jersey after being in the day-long break on stage one of the Tour de Yorkshire.
It wasn’t quite perfect —Bigham had to settle for 14th place as the bunch swept up all but stage winner Jesper Asselman (Roompot-Charles) in the dying metres of the 182km stage, which ran from Doncaster to Selby.
Racing at this level is a new ball game for the first-year UCI team Ribble, but they made good on their intentions to make the most of the first two relatively flat days of this race.
“First-year Conti team and we’re on the podium our very first UCI race of the year, it’s wicked,” enthused Derby-based Bigham, best known for his exploits on track with Huub-Wattbike, after the stage.
“It’s cool to be in the jersey and obviously I can’t be disappointed with that, it’s sweet I guess. It’s just a bit frustrating not to feature — I just didn’t have the legs to sprint at the back end,” he said.
Bigham also went for the red KoM jersey on the only classified climb of the day, and while he was soundly beaten by Jacob Hennessy (Canyon-dhb p/b Bloor Homes), he realised at that point that the break could go all the way.
“I wanted that KoM so bad — I know I’m not a climber, but I genuinely thought I had more than that,” Bigham said.
“Over the top of the last climb we had 2-20, 2-40 which is awesome, then [team boss] Matt [Cronshaw] pulled up and was ‘the gap’s not coming down’ so I was like, right let’s keep riding and just keep lifting it. I was feeling mint in the last hour, doing 400-plus watt turns.”
Bigham puts much of his clearly excellent road form down to finding equilibrium both on and off the bike.
“I got out in Calpe, had a great 10-day block and since then just been super consistent, life’s been good,” he said.
“Good balance around work, family and girlfriend and all that kind of stuff which is great, so it means I’m happy, sessions are being completed, so that’s what matters really for these races.”
And, despite such an epic day, Bigham is more than up for having another go tomorrow: “Damn sure I will,” he grinned. “There’s nothing else for me on the agenda… put myself in the breakaway and see what the legs say.”