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).