Andy Tennant writes: RideLondon, and the Sheffield and Ryedale Grand Prix

It’s a busy time of the season for me, with big races on the road and an intensive block of strength training for the track.

I joined the new Madison Genesis team for the start of their debut season, and we finished second overall in the Tour Series, despite some bad luck.

Andy Tennant, pictured here at the fourth round of the 2013 Tour Series in Aberystwyth, has raced in front of some big crowds this season. pic: ©Sweetspot

Our season has continued with more city centre racing in the Elite Circuit Race Series and the road races of the Premier Calendar.

We’ll finish a busy week on Sunday with our third race in seven days: the RideLondon-Surrey Classic.

Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic

The Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic will be a massive event. I did well in the Olympic test event on a similar course two years ago, finishing ninth, and if I could emulate that performance, I’d be thrilled. There’s a lot of uncontrollable factors in road racing, however, so we’ll have to see.

It’s difficult to say what our strategy will be at Madison Genesis. The race is 220km long and the start list is filled with ProTour teams. Bibs [Ian Bibby] has the best chance with the race going up Box Hill and Leith Hill three times.

We’re likely to bide our time and try to pick the right move rather than try to follow everything. Generally, in this type of race, the move will go on a  climb, where you either have the legs or you don’t. We’ll try to get a rider in a an early move, I expect, but that’s no easy task – every other team will be trying to do the same.

I’m in a block of strength training with British Cycling, preparing for the track, and in terms of endurance for the road, I’m not in tip-top form. Obviously, I want to be in good form for the Tour of Britain, and we have only another two weeks of training to adapt for short bursts of power before we move to more threshold-based work to build endurance for the road.

Sheffield Grand Prix

Four of us lined up for Madison-Genesis at the Sheffield Grand Prix last Thursday: Dom Jelfs, Chris Snook, Dean Downing, and me. ‘Crit’ racing is a staple for the top British teams. The tight, city centre circuits give the crowds a close-up view of the action for lap after lap, and the crowd in Sheffield for the final round of the Elite Circuit Race Series rivalled any of those I’ve raced in front of this year at the Tour Series.

Dean is one of the fastest sprinters in the UK, so our aim was to get him to the front for the sprint. He was in the lead group of 10 riders at the finish, but I know there was a bit of a palaver with about 200 metres to go, which caused carnage in the bunch: the commissaires hadn’t pulled out the lapped riders and the motorcyclists couldn’t pass them.

I know that Dean went on the right hand side, where his brother, Russell (NetApp-Endura), and Briggsy [Team Raleigh’s Graham Briggs] moved to the left. They ended up getting caught in the group of riders where Dean was able to sneak through on the right hand side which worked out well for us.

Lapped riders

The issue of lapped riders hit the headlines in June with Hannah Barnes and Laura Trott at the IG London Nocturne. What happened at Sheffield was probably a coincidence. It’s difficult because in the Tour Series, for example, the position of lapped riders counts towards the team placing. In Redditch where miscommunications were sent across the Tannoys, telling riders to sprint, not sprint, and then sprint, no-one knew what was happening.

At the end of the day, if you’re lapped, you should always be pulled out in my opinion. It would make it a lot simpler and a lot safer. As bike riders, we don’t know how far ahead the lapped riders are.

Ryedale Grand Prix

We came close to picking up a second win in two races just days later at the Ryedale Grand Prix, the final race of this year’s Premier Calendar. The ‘Prems’ are road races, much longer than hour-long, city centre ‘crits’.

Our strategy was to look after Ian Bibby foremost, and then me. I’d gone in quite a lot of moves up to the point that Bibby attacked on that climb, and I wasn’t able to follow. Another Madison Genesis team-mate, Jack Pullar, joined the second split and then that was it: as soon as they formed a group with five good riders and most of the teams represented, the race was shut down. The chase was left to other teams, but no-one took it on quickly enough. The break was gone, and then it was a case of sitting in the bunch.

I spoke to Bibby after the race and he said that Richard Handley (Rapha Condor JLT) opened up the sprint early. Bibs didn’t want to go then, but he had to go when Richard went and then he died off. Joe Perrett (IG-Sigma Sport) is a diesel and clawed his way back up. In all fairness to Joe, he did a fantastic ride. He was in that first move with Mark Christian, and Simon Yates joined them a little bit later. Hats off to Joe, he did a fantastic job. Obviously, he was the strongest rider, and it’s not always the strongest rider who wins, so it was nice to see.

I had a problem with my bottle cage, which snapped with 3km to go, and ended up in my chainring. I was ripping that out of my frame to prevent a crash, so my bike race unfortunately was over with 3km to go, otherwise I would have tried to be in the bunch sprint for ninth place.

Discuss in the forum

Andy Tennant is a member of Great Britain’s world champion men’s team pursuit squad, and a pro cyclist on the road with the Madison-Genesis UCI Continental team. Follow Andy on Twitter – @tennanto

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