Race Report: Ras de Cymru 5 Day Stage Race

From Wednesday to Sunday last week I was in Wales for the Ras de Cymru stage race. As an individual it was a bit of a mixed bag of success, but as Team Wiggle, we came away with some great results including stage wins, the sprinter’s points jersey and the overall team prize.

The week started out with a team time trial, which at only 11 kilometers long, on a flat course, was always going to be a whole world of pain. I won’t make any bones about it; I’m lacking top end power at the moment, and knew that going into the event. A short team time trial was therefore always going to be a struggle. I lasted about 6 kilometers and then dropped off the back; it was only the first three times that counted, and I really couldn’t keep up with the pace. It was disappointing, but probably predictable. I ended up a good 2 minutes down on the team’s eventual time, and whilst they won the stage, I was placed almost dead last on GC. A good start for Team Wiggle, not such a good one for me.

The second stage was a rolling road race, with one notable hill and a flat finish (one for the sprinters). Dan was the sprinter in our team, so it was down to him to take the stage on this one. There was a small breakaway up the road at the finish, but Dan took the bunch sprint and the rest of us hung on to finish safely in the main bunch.

Day three was the real tough one; a road stage in the morning, followed by a hilly individual time trial in the afternoon. The road stage went better for me, and I was able to position myself higher up in the bunch. I didn’t have enough of a kick to get a top ten place on the final kick up to the finish, but Ben took third, and with three of us finishing in the main bunch again, it was good for the Team GC. The stage was a hard one, with some big hills and fast descents; I was beginning to find my legs, but it was a hard effort to stay at the front on the tight Welsh lanes.

The individual time trial in the evening was a real pain fest. At just 6.9 kilometers, with a 1.3 kilometer steep climb at the end, and off the back of a hard road stage in the morning, it was going to hurt. It did. I felt sluggish and really struggled to get on top of the gear on the flat. I then promptly ‘parked-up’ on the climb, coming out with 50th place out of the 100 riders in the end, so not that bad, but by no means great.

Saturday’s stage was a rolling course, with a really good mix of hills and flat fast roads. It was a far easier stage than the previous day, and had one major hill in it leading up to the finish. Dan got in a breakaway early on, and there was no way we were going to chase it back when he was so high on GC, so Ben, Andy and myself sat-in and waited for the final climb. I wasn’t positioned well on the final hill, but managed to pick up a few places on the climb to come out with a position at the front half of the field, which helped our Team GC aims.

The final sixth stage was the most severe and challenging of all; finishing at the top of a second category climb, Llangynidr mountain. My aim for the day was to finish as high as I could on the stage, to try and help claim back the team GC, which we had lost by just 29 seconds on day three. I stayed in the bunch for most of the morning and then moved up for the final 6.5 kilometer climb. I went ok up there, and certainly as well as I thought I could. I finished 21st on the stage, but claimed enough back from the rival team GC contenders to get back the classification. Dan also wrapped up the sprinter’s jersey, and Ben had another high placed finish with a 3rd.

The race as a whole was a great experience, and although I didn’t have the legs or the positioning strength to come away with any great personal results, it was definitely well worth doing, both for the team success and the intensive training (it was good fun too!).

There are a few things that probably affected my results…  last weekend’s crash, which I’m still recovering from; a lack of racing over the last few weeks and to be honest months, which has let my power lapse somewhat; and finally a bit of a lack of confidence with positioning in such a huge field of 100 riders, which dramatically improved throughout the week, but which did affect things early on.

The whole race was a lot of fun, and I certainly feel like I’ve put a fair bit of effort in over the last five days. I’d like to do it again with better form and experience. For now though, I’m going to try and recover, and then carry the form into a few road races in the next few months… hopefully I’ll start bringing in some results now.

[Photos courtesy of Huw Fairclough]


Popular posts from this blog

Recipe – The Ultimate High Energy Flapjacks

Review – Victorinox Bike Multi Tool Kit

SwissStop Disc Brake Pads Comparison Test Review – Are All Disc Brake Pads Made Equal?

Review – Selle Italia SLR Boost Gravel Superflow Saddle S3

Best Gravel Bike Cycling Routes on the Isle of Wight