The list of teams selected for the Tour of Britain has been announced and I’m pleased to say that Madison-Genesis is among them.
Selection for the Tour of Britain was a massive aim, but was always in doubt. The choice for race director, Mick Bennett, is to decide how many teams from the WorldTour and how many domestic teams to allow, and there’s always a chance that a team will miss out.
After our performance in the Tour Series, it would been unfortunate, shall we say, for Madison-Genesis not to have been selected. Looking from the outside, and certainly from a results perspective, I think the top domestic teams are Raleigh, Rapha Condor JLT, Madison Genesis, and Team UK Youth.
All the stages of this year’s Tour of Britain look pretty hard – it gets harder every year, that’s for sure. Stage two, at 225km and taking in Honister Pass, and the sixth stage which climbs into Haytor, look among the toughest, but to be honest, although the hard stages can be really, really hard, they are sometimes easier because everyone’s scared of them. You just don’t know. The Tour of Britain can be ridden in so many ways. It all depends on the motivation of the WorldTour teams.
The standard of racing in Britain has gone up and that’s brought us closer to the riders in the top tier. There is a gap, and don’t get me wrong, it is an evident gap in my opinion, but I think the standard of domestic racing has increased. All the riders are more competitive with a European field. I think there’s a good chance of a domestic team taking a stage at the Tour of Britain next month.
Madison-Genesis will be going into the race looking for stages, with Ian Bibby going for the overall. For me, it will be more about targeting stages and trying to get into breaks. Sprints and King of the Mountains jerseys are usually won by getting into breaks, and lots of them – every day; more so than with a race like the Tour de France, where riders are going for specific climbs.
Since my last blog, I’ve raced with Madison-Genesis in the biggest one-day race Britain – the RideLondon-Surrey Classic. It was a good experience for the team. Liam Holohan was one of the protagonists trying to get into the early break along with Jack [Pullar], Alex [Peters] and Dean [Downing]. Myself and Bibby were just sitting. Bibby was our team leader for the climbs and the idea was for me to try and save myself as long as possible, maybe to try and get in a group with him.
The race formed a split with eight men. Liam got across, but was a bit unlucky in one of the bends, he said, with an Italian rider who took a bad line. He put all his effort into getting to them at that point and blew up.
We moved to the main objective which was looking after Bibby. The third time over Leith Hill was pretty hard, riding with Belkin Pro Cycling, who split the race. It came back together just before Box Hill and went on to split again, and Liam, Bibby, and I were all in the lead group, and Bibby was one of the protagonists in an attack.
Unfortunately, the race came back together with about 25km to go. My job was to go for the sprint. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any lead out, so I was on my own a bit, and just got clobbered with about 900metres to go. That lost me a lot of places very quickly and I ended up 30th, but with the track-specific strength training I’d been doing, it was pretty pleasing. I was chuffed, even though the result didn’t reflect quite what I felt I could have achieved.
I’d raced in the Olympic test event two years ago, and riding on to The Mall for RideLondon, the crowds were again massive. It was a special atmosphere, and you have to admire Sweetspot for the fantastic job the did with RideLondon. It was a fantastic event and hopefully it will continue.
This week, I’ve been training on track with the Team GB endurance boys – Ed Clancy, Steven Burke, Sam Harrison, and John Dibben, under the guidance of coach, Paul Manning, at the National Cycling Centre in Manchester.
There’s banter throughout the Great Britain team and with the Academy boys as well. Most of the time it’s pretty jovial, pretty light hearted, and then you crack on with the efforts and concentrate on doing the best job you can.
There’s banter throughout the Great Britain team and with the Academy boys as well. Most of the time it’s pretty jovial, pretty light hearted, and then you crack on with the efforts
Every rider reacts differently, but within a squad, we know that being stressed doesn’t exactly help performance. There’s a lot of team camaraderie there. I get on well with all the lads. It’s a fantastic atmosphere to try and push yourself onwards. There’s upward pressure too from some of the younger lads who want to make the team.
We did some decent efforts the last couple of days on the track. Considering the time of the season, we’re going relatively quickly. We’re not going to set the world alight, but we’re pleased with where we’re at, quite a while before a major track competition. The Europeans are the first major hit.
My times from the standing starts have been better than I’ve ever done before, and on bigger gears. Bringing down times from a standing start is the hardest thing, so the block of strength training has definitely worked. This will take me into the track season in good stead, and I’ll now move on to a six-week block where I’m really focusing on endurance conditioning.
We’ve got a big block of racing coming up from Monday when we’re off to Belgium for a few UCI 1.1s and four kermesse races. That will be a big learning curve. I’ve raced in Belgium a couple of times: at the junior Tour of Flanders and the under-23 Tour of Flanders, where I fared reasonably well, but obviously this will be a big step up.
They’ll be really tough races, and quite prestigious as well, being in Belgium. I’m expecting a baptism of fire. Hopefully, the legs will hold up and I’ll get stuck in and get a good workout. If I could get a top ten finish in one of the races, I’d be chuffed. As a UCI 1.1 category race, the races will be the same standard as RideLondon and 200km long.
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