Published: 6 September 2012
Report: Scott Hobro
Great Britain coach Chris Newton believes one of the most punishing Tour of Britain routes to date is the ideal preparation for the British Cycling Olympic Academy riders who will go on to ride the UCI Road World Championships.
A group of six Great Britain under 23 riders will tackle the 1,349.9km race with four of the group – Simon Yates, Joshua Edmondson, George Atkins and Alistair Slater – going to Limburg, Netherlands for the world championships the following week.
Yates, Edmundson and Slater will join Scott Thwaites, Richard Handley and Mike Cuming as the squad from which three will be selected for the under 23 men’s race. Atkins - along with Sam Harrison and Joe Perret - will fill two places for the under 23 men’s time-trial.
Before then the ninth edition of the Tour of Britain begins on Sunday with a 199.6km Grand Depart from Ipswich to Norfolk Showground with over 100 riders set to be involved, including British Cycling Podium Programme athletes Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish.
Newton, who coaches the women’s podium programme team in addition to the men’s academy riders, has overseen the group through a heavy programme of racing over the season which has included UCI U23 Nations' Cup events and expects a demanding eight days around Britain’s roads.
“It’s a very tough race,” Newton, who has rode the Tour of Britain himself, said. “To race in Britain is totally different from the continent - roads are congested, there are lots of twists and turns. We either deal with it or pack our bags and not cycle on these roads.
“It’s all about being at the front all the time which makes it tough, so everyone thinks that and is fighting for the front all the time. It makes it faster, more aggressive from the go, breaks will develop – is it the right break? Do the top teams let them go?
“That’s what you have got to look for, young lads especially first year and second year Academy riders that is what they have got to look to do, not only try their hardest as a physical effort,but mentally they have got to think ‘is this the right move? Do I persist? Do I show my hand? Do I do enough or just enough? Do I try and be content with being in the break and show myself that way?’
“There are a lot of things to think about and it’s a tough race and as for the climbs and descents they are all more acute.”
Attentions will then turn to Limburg, where riders will be assessed before final choices for the U23 men’s time-trial on Monday 17 September and road race on Saturday 22 September are made.
Newton added that those riders aren’t starting the Tour of Britain ahead of the worlds, such as Endura Racing’s Scott Thwaites, have been on their own programmes building towards the worlds which ensure they arrive in the competition in peak condition.
“Scott Thwaites has got his own individual race programme, single days in Belgium. For him that’s ideal preparation,” Newton said. “As we run through the week of the Tour of Britain we will look at how the team will form for the three places. Given the course in Holland it’s tough.”