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Race Report | The Tour Series (Aberystwyth)

Race Report | The Tour Series (Aberystwyth)

Five members of Vitus Pro Cycling Team, together with team owner Cherie Pridham and mechanic Pete Mooney, traveled to the West Wales town of Aberystwyth for the fifth round of the OVO Energy Tour Series on Saturday (May 26, 2018).  

The race saw the return of Adam Kenway after illness. Andy Shackel was another keen to return to the challenge of Tour Series racing, after recovering from a back injury. Spanish track star Julio Amores, young fighter Liam Davies, and Bertie Newey completed the line-up. 

The circuit in the Welsh seaside town was technical in places and fast in others. Warm conditions added to the challenge, but the team stayed well hydrated, courtesy of nutrition sponsor Tribe.

The peloton split after only two laps, with a very powerful front group escaping, pursued by an equally powerful chasing pack, where the team had representation. As the race went on, riders were dropped from both groups, and some Vitus Pro Cycling Team riders began to find the going tough. Worse was to come when a lapped rider brought down Kenway.

The team’s most aggressive rider was left with a broken jaw and scaphoid. It was another example of how luck plays a major part in these races. Cherie Pridham’s squad could do with some good fortune to help their cause in such a demanding series. 

Pridham said Kenway had retained his usual good humour and determination to ride, despite his crash, but she had overruled his request to roll out for Monday’s sixth round in Stevenage, insisting that he take time to recover from his injuries and a recent bout of illness.

“As we manage to move five steps forward, we seem to get knocked back to square one,” she said. “Tonight, Adam came down heavily when he was taken out by a lapped rider. He’s in surprisingly good spirits, considering how heavily he crashed and the severity of his injuries, but that’s Adam. 

“Bertie is coming back from his crashes and still recovering, and there was another good ride by Liam Davies; all credit to him. Until halfway, we seemed to have good numbers in the front half of the race and then it went wrong, but the riders are still fighting and it’s onto Stevenage now to see what we can do there.”  

Davies, the team’s highest-placed finisher in 24th position, said he was pleased with his performance, but, like every competitive cyclist, wanted more from himself and had hoped to finish higher up the classification.

Davies had suffered the indignity of a crash that brought the race to a halt in the opening 200m in Durham, but had taken the restart, showing more of the courage that had served him so well at the Tour de Yorkshire. In Aberystwyth, he buried any memories of Durham with a solid ride.

“This result is great for morale," he said. "The day after the crash at Durham, my head was all over the place. I cracked on with hard training and, coming here, it feels like that work is paying off. It is great to be up there with riders I want to be racing. I would like to have made top 20, but at least I was up there.

“Towards the end of the second lap, there was a split and I think I was one of the first riders not to make it in there. I was trying my hardest, but I knew that even if I got there, I’d be ‘spat’ after half-a-lap, so I sat in the chase group with Andy Tennant (Canyon Eisberg) and thought: ‘I’m happy being in a group with these guys.’ It was a great experience.”

Race Report | The Tour Series (Durham)

Race Report | The Tour Series (Durham)

The OVO Energy Tour Series went back to Durham for the ninth time for round 4 of the 2018 Series on Tuesday (May 22nd). 

The venue is known for its cobbled climb on the circuit, one where there is no hiding place says team owner Cherie Pridham, and it was going to be a big test for the riders, not just from Vitus Pro Cycling. In a first for the series, the racing on the day was kicked off by a Hill Climb from the bottom of the cobbled climb to the finish outside Durham School, a distance of just 500 metres. 

After a  dinner cooked in the motorhome supplied by Don Amott Leisure Kingdom, the riders warmed up under the motorhome’s awning before making their way to the start where starting second in the one-at-a-time race against the watch, was the team's most experienced rider Joshua Hunt.

He finished 23rd with a time of 58.644. The fastest rider for the team was Harrison Jones with 57.130 in an excellent 16th place whilst Scotland's Joe Reilly was only a few places back in 20th with 57.701. The times were all very close with Liam Davies in 21st with 58.2 and Julio Amores, the final rider for the team in 1.01.677. 

Overall, with the four fastest times counting, that gave the team fifth on the day which was very promising considering the team’s noted hill climber, Adam Kenway, was out with illness on a course that would have suited his abilities on a bike. The consensus from the riders was that it was a brutally horrible race but one that they came away feeling positive about.

If the first race was a positive start for the young squad with many of them finishing ahead of more illustrious names, the second was a tough lesson in how bike racing can be a cruel sport. A broken cleat for Liam Davies as he pressed hard on the pedals as he looked to get a good position behind the TV motorbike saw him, and Joe, fall heavily. 

The race was restarted and Liam explained afterwards the shock of such a heavy fall saw all his power gone and he struggled in the race he expected to do well in. The circuit race at Durham is a brutal one and a look down the results where Josh finished one place ahead of a triple Olympic champion is an indication of just how tough it was for those not suited to a climbing race.

For the young riders, it was especially tough and another of those learning curves they need to go through to test themselves against the best on the hardest of the British circuits. Team owner Cherie Pridham singled out both Liam and Joe for their rides in the race which they finished despite the spectacularly heavy falls they both had at the start. 

With Durham now under their belts, the team look towards more conventional circuit races in Aberystwyth on Saturday (May 26), Stevenage (Monday, May 28), Wembley (Tuesday, May 29) and then the grand final in Salisbury on Thursday, May 31st). 

Race Report | The Tour Series (Motherwell)

Race Report | The Tour Series (Motherwell)

Vitus Pro Cycling Team made a long drive north to take five riders to Motherwell for round two of the OVO Energy Tour Series. 

Team manager and owner Cherie Pridham handed a Tour Series debut to Liam Davies and Andy Shackel in a team selection that also included new signing Bertie Newey, as well as Adam Kenway and Julio Amores.

On a cool and cloudy night, the race was as brutal as it gets, with three riders escaping on the first lap, while behind, attack after attack launched from the peloton. Riders from Vitus Pro Cycling Team stayed in the mix, with Kenway yet again prominent, courtesy of an attack made from the front of the first group.

Speaking after the race, Pridham said the team could reflect positively on many aspects of their performance.

“I am so pleased for young rider Liam Davies, who did exactly what I asked of him. He’s just lacking that little bit of power, which is normal for someone of his size and age. He certainly made me happy.

“Adam was strong again, while Julio was in the mix, and got himself in a few dangerous looking moves. On the whole, I have a lot of positives to take from the race.”

“Bertie unfortunately had a nasty crash, but thankfully he’s fine and finished the race, while the race represented a big learning curve for Andy, but that experience is what the team is about - giving young riders the chance to learn at a very competitive level. It was brutal for Andy and the riders out there, as the Tour Series always is - this year more than ever.”

Adam Kenway said he had spent the entire race trying to escape from the clutches of the peloton, but despite his best efforts, was unable to do so. Many of his attempts to ride clear of the bunch were subsumed by counterattacks.

“It was just one of those days when it didn’t go my way,” he concluded. “With four laps to go, Tobyn Horton (Madison Genesis) attacked and I went with him, and then he eased up and I went straight ‘over the top’ and gained a gap of about 50 or 60 metres, but the chasing group kept eating into it, and I was caught in the back straight on the last lap.”

Kenway said that the nature of the course – a 1.2km lap with long, fast straights on Ladywell Road and Douglas Street – meant that “the gas was always on.”

“It was fast up the drag to the finish, and then you went straight into a headwind, so there wasn’t much rest. If you were at the back, it was really hard work. After my early attack, I slipped to the back, and it took me half the race to get to back to the front!”.

The team travels next to Aberdeen for round three of the OVO Energy Tour Series this Thursday (May 17, 2018).