Vitus Pro Cycling Team travelled south to London to contest the penultimate round of the 2018 Tour Series on a demanding circuit in the shadow of Wembley Stadium.
Despite racing again after only one day of complete rest following the seventh and eighth rounds in Stevenage, team owner and manager Cherie Pridham had intended to start with the same five riders.
Andy Shackel, however, was unable to ride in Wembley and so the team’s capital line-up was comprised of Julio Amores, Liam Davies, Harrison Jones and Grant Martin. Shackel is expected to return for the final round in Salisbury on Thursday May 31.
Pridham, who finished multiple Grand Tours during a decorated career as a world class rider, said she was pleased with the efforts her young team.
“We went into the race with confidence, despite nerves about what the course was going to be like after the rain. I told them not to fear anything and get stuck in and that is what they did. It was a good effort from the lads.”
With Schwalbe 25mm Pro One tubulars on their Prime wheels, the riders lined up on a circuit that riders from the women’s race, which opened the evening’s entertainment, had described as a skating rink.
A drying circuit, still wet in places, inspired a cautious approach and the riders went out on to a circuit of mixed surfaces (tarmac, concrete and paving stone) with just 50 to 60psi in their Schwalbe tubulars, commenting afterwards they were pleased with the grip their rubber had given them in such slippery conditions.
The race very quickly split, as double world junior champion Tom Pidcock (WIGGINS) went off the front, while Amores, Davies and Jones flew the Vitus Pro Cycling Team colours in the lead group.
Amores later had the misfortune to find himself stuck behind a crash and relegated to the next group, despite giving his customary 100 per cent effort. Behind him, Martin fought hard to regain some of the form he had shown in an encouraging start to the season. An enforced absence had left him lacking the sharpness that served him so well in races like the Chorley GP and Rutland-Melton CiCLE Classic.
Davies produced the performance of the night to finish in 16th place in among the ‘names’ of the Tour Series, while Jones crossed the line just a few places back in 18th place, despite crashing and then being hit by another rider in Stevenage, was a remarkable achievement.
“Liam crashed but was back into the group within a few laps and was our leading rider. The riders are gaining in confidence despite some bad luck in the Tour Series and looking forward to the final round in Salisbury.”