Report: Andrew Thomas, Velocity Race Team
Easter weekend saw a strong Velocity Racing Team competing in the inaugural Youth Tour of Scotland, a 4-Stage event taking place over 3 days. The team, comprising of brothers Alex Braybrooke and Christian Braybrooke, Fabio Close and Joe Evans, had spent time over the previous few weeks preparing for the event and, were determined to put on a good show. Andrew Thomas from the team has penned the following report of the weekend's action.
Day 1, Friday 6th April
Stage 1. The event began with an individual time trial over a tough and technical 1.8Km route around Strathallen school grounds. This stage was won by Wales’ Dylan Kerfoot-Robson who looked smooth and powerful using his technical mountain bike skills on the tricky uphill section. Joe Evans was close to him in 4th, just 2 seconds back, with Christian Braybrooke a further 10 seconds and Fabio Close 17 seconds behind Joe.
Stage 2. Then followed the Team Time Trial. This is an unusual event at youth level and was keenly anticipated by everyone present. Teams were started two up, at a 1 minute interval, to set up a team pursuit type arrangement around the school grounds. Again the tough and technical course was used. This time 3 laps of the 1.8Km circuit.
With the early runners recording times between 8 and 9 minutes it was then the Velocity team’s turn to show what they were made of. From the start where the team lined up echelon style rather than a flat 4, Velocity looked in a class of their own holding an incredibly straight line on such a technical course, and making fast decisive changes on the front. They ripped up the road to record the fastest time of the day at 7 min 23 sec with only the Welsh team coming close, 13 seconds behind.
So at the close of the first day the leader board made excellent reading
Joe Evans, Velocity Race Team
Christian Braybrooke, Velocity Race Team (@10sec)
Dylan Kerfott-Robson, Wales (@11sec)
Fabio Close, Velocity Race Team (@17sec)
Day 2, Saturday 7th April
Stage 3. The following day saw the first full road stage with the 100 strong bunch-racing 75km over 11 laps of a tough rolling course near to Crieff. With Velocity leading the team classification, and Joe Evans in the yellow jersey, the boys had much to defend and knew that they would be attacked by the bunch with Kerfoot-Robson from Wales, James Shaw of East Mids, Ben Chapman of Chorley Cycles and Charlie Tanfield of the North East Academy felt to be the most likely threats.
The field set off at a good pace with slower, less experienced riders being shed from the back of the bunch but surprisingly the first half of the race saw very few attacks. Significantly and unfortunately for him, Kerfoot-Robson punctured twice to drop him out of contention for the rest of the weekend. Then around half distance a crash in the bunch split the field. Joe Evans and Fabio Close managed to avoid the carnage and stay with the front bunch but Alex and Christian Braybrooke came down, and ended up around 40 sec back in a chasing group trying to get back on. At the same time Ben Chapman and James Shaw intelligently attacked. This left the Velocity boys in the strange position with Alex and Christian Braybrooke trying to get back to the front group but Joe Evans and Fabio Close having to push the pace of the front bunch up in order to pull back Chapman and Shaw.
This wasn’t a good moment for the team management but they needn’t have worried as once again the team rose to the occasion. Fabio and Joe chased hard and shut down the Chapman/Shaw break within a lap and immediately sat up to take the pace out of the lead bunch. Meanwhile Christian Braybrooke and Charlie Tanfield where setting a searing pace in pursuit closing to within 15 sec the following lap, and then bridging the gap a lap later. With Alex Braybrooke managing to hang onto his brother’s wheel, all four lads were back in the lead bunch with 3 laps to go, a magnificent effort!
In the end all that drama seemed to take the sting out of the field and they continued to circulate as a bunch until a sprint finish at the end won by Tristan Robbins of Cardiff JIF. With the rest of the front bunch given the same time there was little change at the top apart from the disappearance of Kerfoot-Robson.
The order going into Day 3 then would be.
Christian Braybrooke (@10sec)
James Shaw (@13sec)
Ben Chapman (@16sec)
With 9, 6 & 3 second win bonuses on Stages 3 & 4 it would be all to play for on Monday.
Day 3, Sunday 8th April
Stage 4. The final stage was an excellent hilly 5.5 Km closed road loop near Strathallen school near Perth. The stage was cut from 10 laps to 9 laps due to road closure timing issues which was to cause confusion later. The Velocity team members where clear what they needed to do, keep Joe in the leading group to retain yellow and make sure the other team riders finished in the front bunch.
It would be fair to say that the four lads put on an exhibition of controlled mature stage racing that would be an example to anyone. Christian Braybrooke and Fabio Close led off the stage with Joe Evans tucked in behind and they ripped around the first lap in order to keep out of trouble and as the bunch rolled over the finish line at the end of the first lap, it was Christian Braybrooke on the front setting a cracking pace resplendent in blue leading team jersey with Fabio Close following and yellow jersey wearer Joe Evans 3rd.
The pattern for the race then emerged with attacks coming thick and fast, Fabio and Christian chasing them all down, then each lap James Shaw attacking Joe on the uphill section. Each time Joe just sat in with him, not allowing him to escape, and despite Shaw’s determined effort to get on Joe’s wheel not doing any work on the front. This stopped the attack on several occasions and the combined effect of this work keeping the front bunch together which was the plan. Meanwhile Alex Braybrooke was sitting pretty further back in the front bunch which was vital so that the team did not lose ground in the team standings. The plan was coming together nicely.
Then with Fabio Close looking like a prize fighter on the front of the bunch, and Joe Evans planning his winning strategy for the last lap, the race ended abruptly as the lap counter turned over two numbers from 2 to 0 with the bunch rolling over the line having had no bell lap and looking a little bemused. It turns out no one had told the lap counter of the reduction in race distance. So a bit of a flat ending to the stage which had been well fought, but not to the event overall which had been electric.
Velocity Racing Team were deserving winners of the team prize with Joe Evans winning and retaining the yellow jersey from the end of the first day, with Christian Braybrooke second @ 10sec. Alex Braybrooke was 2nd in the white jersey (young riders) competition. The team performed magnificently all weekend, and should be proud of what they have achieved, not only as a racing unit, but also by setting an example to others of what can be achieved with a dedicated professional approach.
As for the event itself, it was excellent notwithstanding the challenges on marshalling a multi-stage event on closed roads in the UK. Congratulations to the organisers and we are looking forward to next year already.
For more details of the event, including full results, visit the event website