We’ve been talking to a number of cycling fans and bloggers and thought it would be a great opportunity to showcase some of the talent we have out there.
Cycling blogger Robyn Davidson (gruppettosandstilettos.wordpress.com) came to the finale of the Grand Prix Series in Leicester on Sunday. Here is her take on it…
“We rode really well. It was disappointing not to keep the jersey. But it is what it is, it’s bike racing” – Dexter Gardias
The 2017 British Cycling Grand Prix Series concluded with the Leicester Castle Classic, with BIKE Channel Canyon’s Dexter Gardias leading the overall standings on the start line.
After controlling the peloton from the start of this crucial race, it looked like they could take the title.
However, on the day they could not prevent Johnny McEvoy snatching the overall series win – by just one point.
Fitting for the finale of such a close series between domestic teams, Leicester was named the UK’s Greatest Sporting City in 2016.
The crowds didn’t disappoint, as every closing lap brought more spectators to the finish line. Over the tannoy it became apparent BIKE Channel Canyon were the ones to watch.
Prior to the flag drop, the teams were situated in Bede Park behind the start line. One of the reasons my friends and I travel to domestic races is the accessibility of the entire event.
You can easily witness the build-up to the race, with riders warming up and mechanics undertaking final Canyon bike checks.
The circuit race in Leicester comprised of 20 laps, meaning spectators could watch the action unfold with numerous chances to see the efforts from riders.
On the roadside, the crowds were cheering on various teams and encouraging different riders – no matter their positioning in the field.
The adults wore cycling caps as children were more than happy to have received bottles and musettes – it was nice to see a mixture of ages enjoying the cycling.
Some had travelled for the event, while others had found themselves with a race on their doorstep and enjoyed watching the action unfold.
I met enthusiastic people at the Chorley Grand Prix in April who had no prior interest in the sport but enjoyed coming out to watch as the course was so close – and the same applied to Leicester.
As a result of leading the Grand Prix Series overall standings, the focus was on Gardias and how his team would ride the last event in the series.
There was no doubting the strength of the team; James Lowsley-Williams was recently a part of the lengthy two-man break at the Ryedale Grand Prix, while Rory Townsend won the Spring Cup Series earlier in the year.
Chris Opie sprinted to third at the Tour de Yorkshire’s opening stage in April, with Harry Tanfield and Gardias wearing the combativity jersey after days two and three respectively.
Joe Fry claimed victory at the Tour of the Reservoir last season, while Rob Partridge is a former British under-23 road race champion, a veteran of 10 Tour of Britains with numerous domestic victories on his palmares.
Sam Lowe, an under-23 national silver medallist, completed the strong eight-man team searching for the glory.
Luckily the rain held off in Leicestershire, lessening the danger of any weather-related crashes and abandons.
There were anxious moments, however, as Tanfield was momentarily held up by a crash from Madison Genesis.
There was a heart-stopping moment for my friend and I, when a spectator decided to cross the road in front of a fast approaching group of riders.
The collision forced one rider from Wheelbase to abandon. Avoiding any major trouble, BIKE Channel Canyon were consistently seen at the front of the peloton, protecting white jersey-donned Gardias as the race reached its closing laps.
Getting closer to the finish, the anticipation mounted. And when a group of riders broke away, Lowe made the move to police this new front group.
Ideally for BIKE Channel Canyon, the leader’s jersey would be theirs; but not all races can be won and that’s what happened in Leicester.
In order to win the overall, Gardias needed to be no more than two places behind McEvoy at the finish.
Instead, he placed just behind George Pym, of Metaltek Kutoa, and team-mate Tanfield in a sprint finish.
Connor Swift, of Madison Genesis, won the final race of the Grand Prix Series in front of Brenton Jones (JLT Condor) and Chris Latham (Wiggins).
It was a tense moment after the finish as team managers tried to work out points and positions in the overall.
For a minute, it looked like Gardias could have retained the jersey. But it was heartbreak on the line as we realised only one point separated himself and McEvoy.
At the team van, I could sense how badly they had wanted the win. However, during an interview with Gardias it was good to see he remained positive for their future.
He acknowledged the strength of his team-mates, especially with the Tour of Britain approaching. He said:
“In terms of strength and depth, we showed we’ve got guys like Chris and Rory, Sam and Harry. It obviously works.”
Last week it was confirmed the team had qualified for the Tour of Britain, which begins in Edinburgh on Sunday, September 3.
Despite only being founded this year, their impressive performances have earned them a much-sought-after position at the race.
They will line up alongside three other domestic UCI Continental teams – JLT Condor, Madison Genesis and One Pro Cycling.
At the Tour de Yorkshire, BIKE Channel Canyon proved how competitive they can be alongside World Tour teams.
And it will be interesting to see how the team tackle the eight-stage race. Gardias added:
“We’ve certainly got the strength to do something there [at the Tour of Britain].”
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