Magnus Backstedt, Team UK Youth’s road captain scored his first top 10 finish of the 2012 Tour of Britain by finishing seventh on today’s 154km stage from Carlisle to Blackpool.
The 2004 Paris-Roubaix winner and teammate, Yanto Barker, were both in the final selection of about 25 riders caused by cross winds and a sudden injection of pace from Team Sky as they began the work of setting up the stage for eventual winner, and new overall leader, Mark Cavendish.
Backstedt, who told RCUK on Monday (10) that his form was rapidly returning after a slow start to the season, said today’s flat run in to Blackpool had suited him perfectly.
“It was just down my street. Absolutely perfect for me. I’m pretty happy with it. I’m not near my best yet. There’s probably still another five per cent, but I’m feeling better with every mile I’m riding. I’m having a great time on my bike at the moment,” he said.
Today, in the cross wind with 20km to go, when Sky put it in the gutter and went to make the split, I had no problem whatsoever to ride myself into that group and I was sitting comfortably in that group. When I can do that, I know that the form is pretty good.”
Team UK Youth is now fourth on the team classification, with Welshman, Yanto Barker, the highest placed member of the team in tenth.
Today’s stage was raced in almost continual rain, conditions described by Backstedt as “pretty horrible” and “proper autumn weather”. The Swede spent much of the stage in a tight fitting rain jacket worn on top of a sleeveless base layer and race jersey. He shed the jacket in the final 40km and “lived with the cold for the last bit”.
Backstedt said he had ate more on cold stages to compensate for the energy expended by the body to keep warm. “I don’t know how much food I went through but my pockets were all full at the start and I had literally nothing left: probably seven or eight bars and in the region of four gels as well, but only about one bottle. One of the things I struggle with is drinking when it’s cold. I know my body functions anyway when it’s cold; as long as I get food in, I can get away with it,” he said.
The early breakaway of six riders, not considered a threat to the ambitions of teams contesting the general classification created a relaxed mood in the peloton, said Backstedt, and a calm ascent of the second category Shap Fell. Not until the final 20km did the response of Team Sky and Endura Racing prompt a more intense pace.
Backstedt said riders in the Team UK Youth squad was feeling pretty good after four stages and backed his teammates for a strong finish on the sharp uphill finish to tomorrow’s 146.9km stage in Stoke on Trent.
He predicted that the stage, which includes the first category ascent of Gun Hill, could produce a shake up to the general classification. “It’s an uphill finish which means that the guys who are planning on the general classification need to be right up there at the top, certainly within the top 10 to stay where they should be for GC,” he said.
Backstedt ruled himself out of contention should a bunch sprint decide tomorrow’s stage (“I prefer sprints like today where its three or four k’s straight and 55kph”) but identified Yanto Barker and Chris Opie as teammates who could show strongly on the climb to the finish on Old Hall Street.
“Tomorrow is a very good finish for Yanto and potentially for Chris Opie as well. Chris climbs very well for a sprinter,” he said.
Magnus Backstedt is a Maxifuel ambassador. Maxifuel is used by each member of the Team UK Youth squad.