Published: 18 April 2014
Written by: Eddie Allen
Image: Luke Webber
After a late crash for Owain Doull in La Cote Picarde, Great Britain’s under-23 road squad will be looking for better fortune at the ZLM Tour, the team’s third UCI Under 23 Nations’ Cup race within a week.
A six-man team of Owain Doull, Jon Dibben, Scott Davies, Chris Lawless, Chris Latham and Germain Burton will contest Netherlands’ event on Saturday, with Latham replacing Tao Geoghegan Hart, who will ride Liege-Bastogne-Liege for his Bissell trade team.
Doull will be hoping for a return of the good fortune that netted him fourth place in the Tour of Flanders, the first race in the 2014 Nations’ Cup campaign, after winning the Triptyque des Monts et Chateaux stage race at the beginning of April.
But on Wednesday Doull was brought down a crash in the final 10 kilometres of La Cote Picarde in France, ruining his chances of a good result, in a race which saw teammate Jon Dibben spend much of the race in an escape group.
“Jon had been in the break all day and got caught with a lap to go,” said under-23 road manager Keith Lambert. “Everything went well until that happened but that’s bike racing, sometimes that happens unfortunately. They rode well that’s the main thing.”
The 177.6km ZLM Tour is the under-23 variant of the senior race which in the past few years has been won by stars Mark Cavendish, Phillipe Gilbert and Lars Boom. The race takes place around the Oosterschelde estuary in Zeeland, south of Rotterdam.
Beginning in the town of Goes, the race features a large loop of the estuary followed by two laps of a finishing circuit around Goes.
“It’s pan flat, if it’s windy that can have a big effect,” said Lambert in his assessment of the route. “It’s twisty, turny, narrow lanes. If it’s windy – wind can do more damage than climbs sometimes.”
Owain Doull took fourth place in the event in 2013, with Luke Rowe the only previous British winner, netting victory twice in 2009 and 2011.
With 13 points, Great Britain currently occupy eighth position in the overall Nations’ Cup standings after two rounds while Belgium head the table with 35 points. Great Britain finished second overall behind France in 2013 after a string of impressive results from Simon and Adam Yates.
After the ZLM Tour, the Nations’ Cup continues with the Pan-American Championships in Guatemala, the Asian Championships in Kazakhstan, the European Under 23 Road Championships in Switzerland before the finale, the Tour de l‘Avenir stage race in August.