First UCI Junior Race of 2016
Thursday, 3rd March, 2016
Leaving from the Forth Bridge on 26th February we knew the team had wintered well and we had a strong bunch of lads in John Macleod, Tim Jones, Stephen Dent, Matthias Barnet and Grant Martin with a shed load of potential but UCI 1.1 Kuurne Brussels Kuurne as first road race of the season?
We came off the overnight ferry at zeebrugge on Saturday morning and made the short drive to Kuurne where we had a ride over the first 3 of 8 climbs on the course before driving the rest including the cobbles of the dreaded Kwarmont.
With the course checked out we headed to our hotel in the centre of Kortrijk and as we drove into the car park the lads noticed the unmissable Tinkoff team bus.
I had forgotten to tell them we were sharing a hotel with the Multi millionaire Oleg's superstars. As we entered the hotel we realised Kutusha were also staying and the boys couldn't believe their luck.
A shower and a stroll into town for dinner then back to hotel for an early night (after they stalked Peter Sagan to get his autograph).
Race day came and after breakfast with the Pros the boys couldn't have been more motivated as we made the short 10 minute drive to Kuurne.
After registration and warm up it was onto the sign on podium, watch the Pros go 5 minutes in front of us then we were off.
The race started as usual like a rocket and within a few hundred metres the crashes started with the 3rd one bringing down a number of riders including Stephen Dent. He was up as quick as he went down and with a bit of help from team mate Tim Jones was back in the bunch. The race then settled for a bit as we hit the first couple of climbs. After recovering from a virus a week earlier we weren't sure how Matthias Barnet would do but he was in trouble on the 3rd climb and was dropped from the bunch. As we started the cobbles of the Kwarmont we could see the impressive sight of our boys up the front and as the climb continued a group of 30 broke away chasing 3 riders with a group containing Tim and Stephen chasing hard. John Macleod was distanced near the top but worked hard to get back on before his legs giving in and his work was done for the day.
As the Front of the race developed the front group increased to six and the chasing group began to break up as they crested the last climb with 20 miles to go Grant stayed up there and by the time we reached the 15k finishing lap it was down to 12. With the break now gone and Ethan Hayter from GB winning the race it was down to the 12 in group 2 to sprint for 7th on the flat, wide tail wind sprint it was the guys with the early jump who stayed away and Grant finished an incredible 12th.
The chasing bunch behind also broke up and came in in dribs and drabs with Stephen coming in toward the back. Tim and John were stopped at the start of the finishing circuit due to the 5 minute down rule but all rode incredibly well. Out of 170 starters there were only 68 finishers which speaks volumes and the guys proved they are well and truly up to the challenge for 2016. As team managers myself and Blair couldn't have been more proud. A big thanks to Derek Webb and Andrew Duncan for their help on the trip. Thanks also to all our sponsors and supporters for making it possible. Spokes Cycles, Limits, Kingdom Gas, First Choice Mortgages, Bike Fit Scotland, Pentland Landrover, Kuota, GSG, Met, Novatec, Teko, Banchory Cycles, Bontrager and a big thanks to Braveheart.
By Craig Grieve