Published: 28 March 2012
Report: Scott Hobro
Great Britain coach Chris Newton has praised the riders who came through a challenging Tour de Normandie last week and backed them to be in contention at this weekend’s Premier Calendar Series opener - The Maldon Dengie Tour.
Simon Yates winning last year's Twining's Pro-Am
Under 23 riders Simon Yates, Joseph Kelly, Owain Doull, Thomas Moses, Alistair Slater and George Atkins went into the eight stages in France with Yates managing a fourth position in the Elbeuf-sur-Seine-Flers stage 5 whilst duo Atkins and Kelly were unable to complete the full programme due to illness.
In particular Newton commended first year under 23 riders Alistair Slater and Owain Doull after the latter admitted the race was the ‘hardest’ he had faced so far.
“I’m very pleased, it is very difficult for a junior Olympic Development Programme rider coming into a senior race programme, all be it they are under 23s,” said Newton, who is also the women’s road coach ahead of the Olympics. “There’s very few under 23 races for them to do, especially stage races, so you have to throw them in the deep end so to speak and the Tour of Normandie is one of them.
“It’s good for the second and third year under 23s as they are looking for results and trying to catch the eye of a pro manager or director sportif. For the younger ones it’s all about learning - positioning in the peloton, wind direction, how to fuel, how to rest properly. For the younger riders it was very successful and fortunately for us the weather was great, it’s notorious for it to be bad weather - horizontal rain, sleet, wind - which makes it a much harder race.
“For Alistair Slater and Owain Doull as first year under 23’s it’s fantastic for them to get through the race and still working, doing the right things throughout the whole bike race.”
“For Alistair Slater and Owain Doull as first year under 23s it’s fantastic for them to get through the race and still working, doing the right things throughout the whole bike race and helping Simon Yates out with the sprint finishing.”
The same six will now turn out for 100% ME in the Premier Calendar opener, The Maldon Dengie Tour. Newton, who won the series in both 1998 and 2007, is positive on the team’s chances for the 104 mile route following Simon Yates triumph in last year’s Twining’s Pro-Am.
“They’ve all put the miles in and trained really hard. It’s one of those races the nature of the course can scupper someone’s chances. In the team as a whole there are definitely winners in that group and the younger riders will be playing a part in that whether it be assisting or going for a result.”
The focus will then turn to securing the maximum quota of six riders for September’s world championships in Limburg, Holland. A top five finish in the UCI under 23 Nations’ Cup is required with the first event in Belgium, the Ronde van Vlaanderen Beloften, taking place on 7 April.
“There are few different things we are trying to achieve. We want results so the full Academy squad will be at each race and we will select the six best for each course again depending on whether they are fatigued. We do need results as that gets us an extra place at the world championships which is vital really, it makes a huge difference
“Equally for those to get results it’s beneficial for them to have ridden previously. In that instance the first year under 23 riders need to ride to gain experience, know the course, so when they do need to step up and start getting results they can, so it is like a roll on effect.”