Day 1 in the GB Camp at Road Worlds

Day 1 in the GB Camp at Road Worlds

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2009 UCI Road World Championships

September 21, 2009; by Larry Hickmott with the team

This weeks sees a large squad of riders from the Great Britain Cycling team descending on a resort in Lugano in readiness for the World Road Championships. Already at the hotel are many of the staff and one-by-one, riders are arriving from around Europe but with the events not starting until Wednesday, today has been a quiet day.
Already here when I arrived was Emma Pooley (Elite Women) shortly followed by Alex Dowsett and Andy Fenn (Under 23 Men). Arriving later tonight will be the rider that is the toast of Britain right now, Bradley Wiggins (Elite Men),  along with Olympic Silver medallist Wendy Houvenaghel (Elite Women) and Chris Froome (Elite Men). These riders will be racing in the three Time Trial events on Wednesday and Thursday.

The view from the hotel shows just how mountainous this area is

During today, the staff have been busy either going to the Milan airport an hour away to pick up riders and staff or preparing everything for the riders for when they arrive. Today for example I travelled in to Mendrisio with Doug Dailey and as well as picking up accreditation for riders and staff, we also picked up the shiny new Skoda four wheel drive team car.

Back at the hotel, while Alex Dowsett and Andy Fenn went for a ride, the mechanics
were washing and prepping the time trial bikes whilst the carers prepared food for the riders as well as providing any massage that was needed after the rider’s training rides which finish at the top of a long climb where the hotel is situated.

So whilst things may be quiet right now, they are building up for when competition starts on Wednesday and it’s an early start tomorrow (7am) with the team looking to go to the time trial course for a scheduled ride on the closed roads.

Shiny new car for the GB team for the Worlds thanks to Skoda

Team for Men’s Road Race
Whilst I was travelling to Switzerland, the GB team released the names of the riders for coming events and as ever, there was a lot of interest in who the nine men would be for the road race on Sunday. The team have named ten riders; Mark Cavendish, Stephen Cummings, Russell Downing, Chris Froome, Roger Hammond, Dan Lloyd, David Millar, Ian Stannard, Ben Swift and Geraint Thomas.

Sitting next to me after lunch was the person looking after the Elite men at the World Championships, Rod Ellingworth who made it clear that whilst the selections have been made, it’s now down to the sensational sprinter Mark Cavendish to let the team know whether he feels he is capable of doing the job he wants to do in the race.”

“If he feels he can’t do that job, he’ll be very quick to say I can’t do it and he won’t be holding anyone back. Mark and Ian are good mates and Mark won’t want to be keeping Ian out if he has any doubts” Rod explained.

“Everyone in the team have been good in being up front as to whether they can do their job in the race” Rod explained. Doug Dailey then explained there is no pressure on the team to name their final line-up until the team declare their riders to the UCI and put their licences on the table.

How the start/finish looks today. Come the road races, it willbe a very different scene altogether

It is quite normal for countries I was told to have as many as 14 or 15 riders in the team camp at the Worlds before the final selection is made and the names of the riders presented to the UCI. GB is also lucky that many of the riders in-line for selection are also close at hand in Italy should they be needed. “Ian is fully aware he is first reserve with Jeremy Hunt man 11 and a non-travelling reserve” Rod explained.

“This is what is good about this year in that everyone knows where they are” he added.

Rod and I then chatted about the importance of gaining experience in a World Championship whether you’re a first year Under 23 or a Classics and Tour de France stage winner like Mark Cavendish. 

“The Worlds is a completely different bike race because of many reasons. It is for example at a different time of the year (end of season), held on a circuit and the riders are competing in National Teams and their can be a cross over between national teams and the trade teams. As far back as 2007 we (Mark and Rod) talked about what it would take to win the Worlds and one of the things is having to be racing at this time of the year.”

At this year’s Road Worlds, the team also have the luxury of being one of the top 10 teams in the world and as such, are allowed to have nine riders on the start line. It is after all a team race and so to help prepare for this year’s race, Rod has had talks and training camps so he has a good understanding with the British riders.

Rod is passionate about getting the best from the riders and showing them the respect he knows they deserve. That included making sure they found out from him whether they were selected or not and not reading about it on the internet or newspaper first.

“These lads all want to ride the Worlds, they want to be a part of one of the best teams in the World, and I think we’re getting there. But they also know that being part of it comes the responsibility of doing a job for the team.”

Team leader for the Road Race for example will be David Millar who is really keen to get a result and after his awesome result in the Tour of Spain, the Garmin rider is looking in great shape to compete for a medal in the very hilly race. The other riders in the GB team says Rod are behind Dave to help the team achieve goals of being the best the team can be in the race.

“My objective is that every single one of them will get on the start line lined up within the top 10 nations in the World very clear with what they have to do. Whether they physically have it on the day is another thing, but if they give it 100 per cent then we’ll be happy. That is what you are after, 100 per cent.”

Talking about jobs the riders may be given, Rod explained that playing a team role can be as simple as just being around their team leader to support him and talk things through or one of the many of the normal jobs associated with playing a supporting role in a bike race. These include getting drink bottles to a rider, helping a teammate move up the peloton at a key part of the course and sheltering them from the wind or just helping each other conserve energy for the finale of the race.”

Rod also said that with the in-depth strength the team now has, the riders may also be called upon to take control of a race and shut down dangerous breaks. Above all though, he knows the riders are buying into the objective of riding as a team and that is a massive starting point for the GB team with it’s nine strong line up.

Mechanics get straight to work on the bikes for the time trial.

Under 23 Men
Another of the events this week are the time trial and road race for the Under 23 riders and following in the footsteps of former Under 23 Academy coach Rod Ellingworth is a Beijing Gold Medallist who is now the coach of the Academy Men’s Endurance riders; Paul Manning who is sharing that role with Max Sciandri. Paul has only just started in this role and is at the Worlds to see what it’s like from staffing point of view.

“This reminds me of when I was here in 1996 as a rider and riding the Under 23 Time Trial myself. A dim and distant memory but you remember all the things you have done in the meantime and how I have honed my approach to a race” Paul explained. 

“I’m here to try and get the best from these guys. It is great for Andy (Fenn) for example to get this opportunity to experience the Worlds and absorb it all in and get the best out of himself. I’m here to make sure they are asking the right questions and getting the most from me with the information they need.”

Paul may have only been in the role of coach for a few weeks but he has already had quite a few opportunities to work with the riders. He was with the riders at the Time Trial Nationals a few weeks ago and then last weekend, was able to watch many of them in a local road race in Pisa where he saw first hand how they go about their business in a race.”

And Paul wasted no time once in Switzerland to start work with Andy and Alex Dowsett to help them prepare for the big race on Wednesday. Looking further ahead though, and the Winter international track season which is just around the corner, Paul agreed that getting to work with the riders now is also very helpful for him and his riders.

“In an ideal world, I would like to have had a little more time to put some plans into place for the winter but one of the jobs in coming here to the Worlds was to also talk to people like Rod (Ellingworth) who have valuable experience in planning and running the Academy and I’ll certainly get that here and take stock of this year and plan for the next.”
Asked if he had a message to the riders looking to follow in his footsteps and win an Olympic Gold medal, he replied “Ed (Clancy) and G (Geraint Thomas) have done it first time out but there are no guarantees. You have to go out there and earn it and this team is  not a conveyor belt of success. There is a lot of talent out there and you have to earn that medal and it’s all about hard work. You won’t know when you’ll reach the goal and you have to keep persisting. Ideally, they will make London but those that don’t will have to keep working at it for as long as it takes.”  

One of the riders Paul is helping to coach and look after is Andy Fenn who has spent his first year as an Under 23 rider in Italy working with Max Sciandri. Andy is racing the Worlds for experience; his first time at this level which he says is good to do at this point in his career. His season so far has also been a learning experience on the road in Italy and other European races. “I have done quite a lot of big races this year like the Baby Giro and found they were a big step up from the junior races.”

Andy emphasised the importance of being a team player and how it was more important to do the job that has been assigned to them for an event rather than to finish the race itself. Asked to pick out something that has been good about being based in Italy, he replied “everything really. The roads for training are better, the food, the set up is good  and the camaraderie between the riders.”

It has certainly been worthwhile Andy explained doing the hard work to earn his place in the Academy team, something many juniors back home in Britain will be looking to do. “I have never experienced the Worlds at this level which is one reason why I’m here. Max explained that doing the Time Trial is a good place to start with and be part of the set up, being with the riders and the staff.”

Andy is also hoping to continue improving and book a place in the senior Team Pursuit squad during the Winter Track World Cups, perhaps Melbourne. He says he likes racing both the road and track and that it’s been good for the head to mix the two together.   Good luck to Andy in the Time Trial


A coach driver we last saw at the 2005 Worlds in Madrid is busy cleaning the coach for the GB team this week.


Elite Men’s Road Race
Mark Cavendish
Stephen Cummings
Russ Downing
Chris Froome
Roger Hammond
Dan Lloyd
David Millar
Ian Stannard
Ben Swift
Geraint Thomas

Elite Men’s Time Trial
Chris Froome
Bradley Wiggins

Elite Women’s Road Race
Lizzie Armitstead
Katie Colclough
Nicole Cooke
Nikki Harris
Sharon Laws
Lucy Martin
Emma Pooley

Elite Women’s Time Trial
Wendy Houvenaghel
Emma Pooley

Under 23 Men’s Road Race

Mark Christian
Peter Kennaugh
Jonny McEvoy
Luke Rowe
Erick Rowsell

Under 23 Men’s Time Trial
Alex Dowsett
Andy Fenn

Hugh Porter, one of the county’s longest server commentators on cycling, if not the longest both on TV and at events, has sent me a schedule for the Road Worlds on the BBC:

Wednesday 23 September
13.00 – 16.45              RED BUTTON
Cycling: World Road Championships - Women's Time Trial

Thursday 24 September
10.30 – 16.00              RED BUTTON
Cycling: World Road Championships - Men's Time Trial

Friday 25 September
13.30 – 14.30              BBC TWO
Cycling: World Road Championships

Saturday 26 September
08.00 – 11.30              RED BUTTON
Cycling: World Road Championships - Women’s Road Race

13.00 – 14.00              BBC ONE   
Cycling: World Road Championships

Sunday 27 September
9.30 – 16.30              RED BUTTON
Cycling: World Road Championships – Men’s Road Race

17.00 – 17.45              BBC TWO  
Cycling: World Road Championships