Rapha's Bad Luck in Ardennes
Story posted April 16, 2010; Team Press Release
After the highs of DoonHame, where Chris Newton dominated with two victories, came a tough weekend for the Rapha Condor Sharp team as they travelled to the Circuit of the Ardennes in France. The race saw them resume battle with many of the same teams that took part in the Tour of Normandy recently. The trip began badly for the squad as illness struck the six man team who travelled from DoonHame to the Franco-Belgian border. First Darren Lapthorne and then Zak Dempster and Jonathan Tiernan Locke succumbing to a stomach bug that would see Darren and Jonathan unable to finish the first stage and Zak unable to start the following day.
Whilst the team was depleted in numbers, the remaining riders stepped up their efforts to ensure that their reputation was defended. Kristian House placed in the top 20 on day one whilst on day two, Dan Craven put in a ride that points towards his rising form. He was in an early split of 13 riders and then was one of only three riders from that move to hold on to the front group as the Rabobank team split the race into four groups with a massive show of force at the front.
The final day of the race involved a split stage. Once again Dan, despite his efforts of the previous day, excelled in the morning time trial to finish just outside the top 20, within a minute of the stage winner. On the final stage, all three remaining Rapha Condor Sharp riders finished the stage with Ben Greenwood taking on domestique duties to ensure both Kristian and Dan stayed well placed. Speaking after the final stage, director sportif John Herety reflected on a race that promised much, threatened total disaster at one point yet ultimately delivered some strong messages from the team on the road.
“At the pre-race meeting we drew car one in the convoy and I thought we were going to be lucky this weekend. But all it meant was I got an early view of our boys getting spat as the sickness started to kick in! As the riders started to go down one-by-one, I was really afraid that we’d all be going for an early ferry back to Blighty with a black mark against our reputation here on the continent. However, the rest of the guys took on the task and it’s a credit to them what they’ve achieved over the last couple of days."
"For Benjy (Ben Greenwood) this is his first race over 150km getting on for two years, so to do that at this level and perform such a strong role in service of the team shows he’s going in the right direction. As for Dan, well, he’s done what we bought him into the squad to do. It’s great to see him building his form this way and hopefully there’s plenty more to come from him at races back in the UK over the next couple of months.”
The squad returned from the Ardennes on Tuesday before heading straight out to the USA where they compete in the Tour of the Battenkill. Billed as ‘America’s Queen of the Classics’, this beautiful event will be somewhere the riders will hope to see their recent international agony turn to ecstasy, lady luck take note! Follow the team on twitter... http://twitter.com/raphacondor/