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.”