Great Britain Olympic Development Programme squad second in Axel Tour team classification

Great Britain Olympic Development Programme squad second in Axel Tour team classification


International Three Days in Axel
17-19 May 2013
Report: Abby Burton

British Cycling’s Olympic Development Programme riders finished second overall in the team ranking at the International Three Days in Axel, with Tao Geoghagen Hart and Germain Burton both placed in the top ten on the GC.

Above: Tao Geoghegan Hart, who along with Germain Burton, thrived in their mentor role at the International Three Days in Axel.

The first day consisted of a 110km race on flat, narrow roads in the wind and rain. Coach Matt Winston explains: “We were looking to try and set the bunch sprint up for Germain but as the race developed along with the weather conditions it split and seven riders got away. Tao and Germain both rode across to that. By the end of the race, there were about 25 riders and the two lads rolled in with the bunch which put them in a good place on the GC and the rest of the guys finished in the main peloton.”

The testing weather conditions, along with the late finish and early start for day two, created a valuable learning environment for the young riders. “It was a really hard day. Tao commented afterwards that it was the hardest race he’d ever done – not in terms of the actual bike race but the conditions were so bad – it was a real learning experience for them.”

In the 7.8km time trial on the second day, GB’s Matt Gibson finished ninth with Joe Evans, Tao Geoghagen Hart, Germain Burton and Zach May (riding for Wales) all finishing within the top 25. Winston was pleased with this result, having commented after the TT of the previous race (Course de la Paix) that he would have liked to have seen more riders in the top part of the field. “It was a pretty good morning. Matt Gibson had a really good ride finishing ninth – he was 13 seconds behind the winner. Having five ODP riders in the top 25 is a massive improvement on our time trialling. Scott Davies (riding for Wales) would also have been up there but he crashed heavily on the second corner.”

Winston was also impressed by the organisation of his young team as they attempted to set Germain up for the sprint finish on stage three later that day:

"I said before the race that I was looking to Tao and Germain to ‘teach’ the younger riders, and I was pleased to see them do that in the race"

British Cycling Olympic Development Programme Endurance Coach Matt Winston

“We were expecting a bunch sprint for the afternoon stage, so we set the team up to do the full leadout for Germain. With 3km to go, the whole team was on the front lining out. We continued the leadout over the cobbles with 2km to go. It worked, but we went too early and Germain finished ninth. They were really disappointed afterwards because we didn’t win, so it was a case of explaining to the boys that it’s an art form. We reviewed the stage afterwards and decided we should have gone later and then maybe we could have finished a little bit higher up. So again, I’m hoping to see the team benefit from this learning experience in future races. But it was the most organised leadout we’ve ever done – there’s never been a leadout where all of the riders were there so that was really pleasing to see.”

The final stage was set in the hills and the team was expecting it to be a hard day.“The first lap was really hard and a soft break got away with Matt Gibson in that move,” explains Winston. “Gibson stayed in the break for the rest of the 75km and finished in ninth place. Tao and Germain didn’t get into the move and we expected the yellow jersey team to ride it down but it never materialised. They tried a move on the last lap to distance themselves but because the racing had been quite easy over lap two and three everyone was fairly fresh so nothing was going away. Tao and Germain managed to put a bit of time into the peloton by going hard up the last climb and moved themselves into ninth and tenth respectively on the GC.”

Winston continued: “Overall, I was pleased to have two riders in the top ten on the GC on a 2.1 Category UCI race. If you look back at where we were last year, we were happy to have a rider place in the top 20 but now the riders are disappointed with top ten – they’ve set the bar quite high and they expect a lot of themselves which I think is a good thing. But from my point of view, we had three first year riders on the team and everyone was able to finish at least with the peloton and everyone is able to do their job in there. So, we may not be winning, but the strength and depth of the team is improving all the time.

“I said before the race that I was looking to Tao and Germain to ‘teach’ the younger riders, and I was pleased to see them do that in the race. For example, in the leadout on stage two, they were instrumental in organising the team and I could see them looking round, getting their team mates to come forward with six or seven km to go so that was good to see – it’s great experience for them to be able to do that, and of course it’s good for the younger guys as well to be able to learn from them.”

Final General Classification

1 Luyckx, Brent Avia Crabbe Team 7:45:58
2 Larsen, Simon Hamann Team Blue Water Cycling @ 0:30
3 Rask, Mathias Comentor Ribe Cykellager @ 0:33
4 Svendgaard, Michael Team Blue Water Cycling @ 1:07
5 Willems, Thimo Cube Spie Douterloigne @ 1:18
6 Tietema, Bas WWV Vacansoleil @ 1:32
7 Biermans, Jenthe Koninklijke Balen BC @ 1:41
8 Janssen, Adriaan Oost-Nederland @ 1:50
9 Geoghegan Hart, Tao Great Britain @ 1:52
10 Burton, Germain Great Britain @ 1:54
27 Gibson, Matthew Great Britain @ 4:19
31 Cullaigh, Gabriel Great Britain @ 4:41
36 Scott, Jacob Great Britain @ 4:50
72 Evans, Joe Great Britain @ 15:15

Final Team Classification

1 Avia Crabbe Team 23:21:55
2 Great Britain @ 2:52
3 Cube Spie Douterloigne @ 3:55
4 WWV Vacansoleil @ 6:38
5 Team ABC Junior @ 7:48
6 Team Blue Water Cycling @ 8:18
7 Kazachstan @ 8:20
8 U.S.A. @ 8:39
9 Team Nordrhein Westfalen @ 9:11
10 Comentor Ribe Cykellager @ 9:21