Day 2-European Road Champs 2009

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European Road Championships, 2009

July 2nd, Day 2; HooGlede (Belgium); By Larry Hickmott

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Afternoon -- Under 23 Men's Time Trial (37 kilometres)

After a break of several hours, it was the turn of the Under 23 men to take to the roads of West Flanders for their time trial on Day 2 of the European Road Championships. Unlike the Junior Women event in the morning (see the report below), the start for the Under 23 men was at the same place as the day before in a little town called Oostendesteenweg.

Great Britain had two men in the race – Alex Dowsett and Andrew Tennant. Originally, Peter Kennaugh was down to ride but he decided to withdraw and concentrate on the road race on Sunday. First off for GB was Dowsett and after he passed through the 19k time check, word came back to us at the finish that he was third fastest and the former Glendene CC rider held that position all the way to the finish line.

Like Joe Perrett on day 1, Alex then had to endure the wait for some one to go faster to knock him out of the top three and that took a long time but did eventually come and the GB rider was then free to return to the hotel in the knowledge he would not be on the podium but pleased and shocked nonetheless with the ride he had done.

It was now down to Andy Tennant, a former World Junior Pursuit champion and off near the end, it was a long wait for him to come past us but when he did cross the finish line, his position of 21st at that time was not going to trouble those on the podium and the exhausted Halfords rider returned to the team car for a drink before riding the four or five kilometres back to the hotel.

So no medals for Team GB but two good rides from the young riders.

Post Race Reactions:

Alex Dowsett: The time trial is a discipline that Alex has always been associated with and he’s won his fair share in the past but on the way over to Belgium on Monday, he’d admitted he was really up for this one even though there was no pressure on him for a result.

Recently he’d had a dip in form which meant he wasn’t selected for the ‘Baby Giro’ but the time off meant he was able to get a decent block of training in out in Italy which he said helped him get his form back together and the ride at the British Road Race champs and the one here in Belgium is proof of that.

After the race, Alex rode back to the hotel and then prior to going on the massage table, he popped by to tell us how it went. “I’m a bit shocked by that ride really. Last year when I did this, I came into it well prepared and had set it as a bit of a target. This year though I have ridden the time trial bike a couple of times on easy training rides and done just one time trial.”

“So I came into it thinking there is no pressure and I’ll go out there and give it my all and see what happens. Should I finish in the top 10, I’ll be over the moon because that will be an improvement on last year.” (Note, Alex finished 11th two placed better than last year)

“I was lucky in that during the ride I caught two guys so I always had some one in sight  to chase. That was a good motivator on a ride where it really did hurt. It wasn’t that fast out there and the wind was never in your favour and the roads are never even so it was tough. And that suited me.”

Asked how it differs in a time trial like this where there is no traffic on the road going past to those on an open road, Alex replied  “back in the UK, if you get an arctic come past, you move out a foot and you get a couple of K extra in speed and it all helps. The hardest thing about time trialling is going from 48 to 50k but if you’re at 50k, it’s easier to hold it. So if you have some assistance getting those extra two K, it makes life a lot easier.”

“This time trial also has more corners and is similar to the circuit series one back home but again, without traffic.”

Whilst the race was not a performance goal for him, he told me that he had said to his manager at the Academy, Max Sciandri, that he wanted to do it because he does like time trialling. “I was actually quite pleased because out here, everything takes longer like a two hour ride seems like a four hour one in Italy, so I was thankful to do a time trial instead of the 4 hour training ride with the boys.”

Andrew Tennant: After a month of June travelling around the UK doing town centre races and helping the Halfords team to a Team win in that series, the Wolverhampton rider tried his hand at a time trial here at the European Championships. Not ideal preparation but this event was one for him to gain some experience for the future and he certainly did that.

 “I’ve only done a few time trials back home this year but I have never really time trialled at this level before so it’s a new thing this year and that is probably only my third time trial and the second one on a twisty course after I did one in Brittany this year in a stage race.”

“I got it all out and did the best I could so I have to be happy of where ever it is I finish. When number 10 came past me, I tried to hang with him for as long I could and it was grippy out there. This is something I want to get better at and hopefully I can work on that over the next few years.”  

1. Marcel Kittel (Germany)      47:24      
2. Timofey Kritskiy (Russia) st           
3. Rasmus Quaade (Denmark)     @.01     

11. Alex Dowsett (Great Britain)     @1:14     
34. Andrew Tennant (Great Britain)    @2:21

Morning: Junior Women Time Trial
It was a case of what might have been for the Junior Women on day 2 of the European Road Championship Time Trial starting and finishing in Hooglede. A mechanical for Ella Sadler-Andrews in the first 3 kilometres and a bike change on the cobbles in the latter half of the 12 kilometre race against the clock cost her a probable top 10 place.

The day began for the Junior Women early, 7am breakfast for Ella, Jess Booth and Corrine Hall and then a ride to the start a few kilometres down the road at 8.30am. With Olympic Development coach for Junior Women, Robin Sharman following them out, the team arrived all together at the teams car park where the GB mechanics and carers had the chairs and tent all ready for the riders.

Left: Ella Sadler-Andrews and right, Corrine Hall.

Ella was first to start and before the race she was very nervous for her first Time Trial at major championship level. A top performance in a UCI stage race recently where she had finished 19th in a time trial in open company showed this young lady from Lancashire had a lot of potential and on the rollers she admitted to enjoying the time trial event. Ella is a rider who has came through the GB Cycling Teams’ Talent Team programme and in HooGlede she went through the normal procedure pre event of a roller warm-up, then ride to the start on the road bike before the nervous wait for the start which would be off a ramp.

Ella got away quickly and that was the last we heard from her until she came up to the finish line and the announcer spoke of her being the fastest at one of the intermediate time checks and fourth as she crossed the line. That in itself was a great performance but Ella’s tears as she approached the team pit spoke volumes for the disappointment she felt with the ride.

It was then we were learnt that a mechanical had hindered her ride from the 3km mark and a bike change had cost her even more time. Her time was eventually 1 minute 15 seconds shy of the winner and Ella could only ponder on what might have been.  Such events however are part and parcel of bike racing and it was a lesson learned that sport is made up of highs and lows and every athlete needs to learn to deal with both. What was most important was the quality of her ride and of that there was no doubt.

Jess Booth waits in the starting gate for the moment to start her race against the clock.

While Ella cooled down with some drinks, it was the time of Jessica Booth to race against the clock, an event she has little experience in and it was for that reason Jess had been selected by her coach to ride the TT to see how she handled this ever so hard event. The Halesowen rider acquitted herself very well and her time, within a minute of the 8th placed rider shows she has the potential to improve with some specific training.

Final rider for Great Britain was Corrine Hall who had finished in the top 10 the year before. Because of that super performance, the Corridori rider was well up for the time trial and had done a little work back home on the road and on the track for the event. With high hopes, Corrine gave it absolutely everything she in an effort to improve on the performance the year before but it was not to be her day and her time of 18.00 minutes saw her finish in 18th place.

Post race reactions:

Ella Sadler-Andrews: “I’m gutted” was her reaction to the result of her ride, and then adding “I didn’t feel as good as I thought I would and the wind seemed to be coming from different directions and I never felt a tailwind at any stage. That said, I did feel pretty comfortable at the pace I was riding. There were three sections on the course where you could get into a good rhythm like you would in a longer time trial.”

“At halfway, I thought I need to pick it up now but I just couldn’t. The only time I really changed down was for the cobbles but for the rest I was using the three top gears.” Because of the twisty nature of the course, the riders agreed that there was only one corner you could do on the skis and for the rest, the hands had to change position to the outside of the handlebars to steer the bike round the bend.

Ella admitted she had not had to deal with a bike change before which in itself would have cost her time. “The problem happened after 3k and I just thought I’ll ride and deal with it but on the cobbles, it (handlebars) dropped too far down so I swapped to my road bike and got going again as fast as I could.”

“It has been amazing to be here at a major championship and valuable to me for when I move up the ranks when I’ll know what is to come. After the UCI race I did recently, I came into this race thinking I could win it and seeing my time, even with the bike problem, gives me confidence.”

Jess Booth: “I have never really done a time trial like this before so it has been a completely new experience for me. The whole thing like the warm-up, the pen at the start and so on. Because I haven’t ridden time trials at this level I was nervous at the start and that affected my pace judgement which I found hard to judge on the up and down hills.”

“The hardest part of the race was the cobbled section and then getting out of the saddle afterwards. The cobbles are difficult because by the time you get to them you have too put so much effort in and they’re near the end of the race, that the change of surface is like riding through mud where you have to push much harder and then when you come off them, there’s nothing left in the legs.”

Corrine Hall:
“That race was one of the hardest things I have ever done” she said after getting her breath back and had a drink. I gave it a 100 percent right from the gun and in the end it was the cobbles that got me. I went into an easier gear as I got to the cobbles and you think it’s easy but it’s not.”

“This year’s course was completely different to last years where you didn’t have to think about the course as it was mostly in a straight line. This year though you had to think about lines around corners, what gears to use and everything – it was pretty technical. There were a couple of straights where you could sit down and power but the rest of it was made up of lots of corners.”

The course Corrine told me was so tight and twisty that she couldn’t see her minute girl at all and at the finish that same girl was only 35 seconds ahead. Corrine though was happy with the ride and the fact she had got everything out and done the absolute best she could do.

Well done to them all for excellent rides against the best in Europe.

Results (12km)
1. Pauline Ferrand-Prevot, Fra, 16.55
2. Hanna Solovey, Ukr, 16.56
3. Maria Petersen, Den, 17.25
15. Corrine Hall, Gbr, 18.00
21. Ella Sadler-Andrews, Gbr 18.10
40. Jess Booth, Gbr 18.52


Corrine Hall arrives at the finish exhausted from her time trial

8.30 am and Robin Sharman gives his girls some last minute instructions.

Carers Hanlie and Luc discuss the tasks for the day in the team camp

Shielded from the sun, Ella and Jess warm up whilst Corrine relaxes to some music on her iPod.

In the pits Luc de Wilde askes Jess where she wants her crank position for the starting effort on the ramp.

Every rider had to sign on as they waited in the starting pit.

Last minute instructions from coach Robin Sharman to Corrine Hall.