Home News UCI World Cycling Tour Finals - a report
UCI World Cycling Tour Finals - a report PDF Print E-mail
Written by Matt Legge   
Wednesday, 30 September 2015 10:14

Many thanks to club member Anthony Roberts for this report from his recent experience at the UCI World Cycling Tour Finals in Aalborg, Denmark. Hopefully we will have some more reports from other members soon. If you've been on a cycling adventure let us know about it...

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Closed road sportives or races are rare so when the first Tour of Cambridgeshire was announced I signed up quickly. This was before knowing the event was a qualifier for the UCI World Tour event in Denmark. On June 7th 2015 I travelled up from Guildford and met a couple of friends from London Phoenix Cycling Club, the 136km course was flat as a pancake. Flat and fast. Gaining less than 700m of climbing across the course the speeds remained high averaging at 36kph for the duration. Qualification turned out to be fairly relaxed, with the top 25% of riders in each age group qualifying for the Denmark race.

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Having received confirmation of my qualification, I and a friend decided to make the trip to Denmark, for experience and fun if nothing else. Aalborg is not the easiest destination in the world to get to, with most flights requiring a rather frustrating changeover at Copenhagen. Considering almost 2,000 cyclists were travelling to a small, remote town in Northern Denmark, the logistics weren't planned greatly by the organisers with very limited spaces for bikes on planes. Luckily a logistics firm stepped in and provided a transit for bike boxes at a very affordable rate, removing most stress of carrying around bike boxes or the airlines losing them!

Having arrived safely, we were greeted in Aalborg by a huge thunderstorm on the Saturday, pre-race day. A group of about 20 random riders met at 10am and headed out for a short scout of the course, this was quickly ended by giant hailstones, thunder lightening and punctures. Not ideal preparation for the race...
The pre-race meeting was in Aalborg town hall, we were briefed on all rules, doping measures, rolling feed stops, neutralised start procedures, all very formal. Denmark clearly has a relaxing way of life with all shops shutting at 1pm on Saturdays and not opening at all on Sundays, even bike shops with 2,000 potentially desperate customers.



Sunday morning arrived, race day, 6.30am alarm and the sun was thankfully shining. I was staying in the 'official' hotel for the event and it was filled with fully-kitted team vans, country coded clothing and a very serious atmosphere. The 19-34 age group in which I belong kicked off at 9am, people arrived early. Lots of Brits, but also lots of nationalities from all over the world, 45 different nationalities were at the event. I had no idea of what pace to expect, whether the pack would remain as one, whether it would start off at an easier pace. After the 2km of a neutralised start the red flag went down, the pace immediately rocketed to 45kph and didn't stop. There were a few early crashes in the first 10km due to over eager riders, people even hopping up kerbs and riding along paths all desperate to get into the leading pack.

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This felt like the final lap of a crit race, yet we were only 10km into a 165km race. The pace was blistering and as we moved through 20km, 30km, 40km hoards of riders were being dropped. The course spiralled into the countryside and Denmark seems to not have trees or bushes, the roads were totally exposed to a fierce headwind. This headwind proved to be the decisive factor in people's races, utterly draining them if they found themselves exposed on these long Danish roads.

At around 60km in the pack split, I found myself on the wrong side of the split and spent the next 10km and maximum effort trying to catch the front group. They were only 100m away but this gap remained, my heart rate almost maxed and the gap widened. I decided to let them go otherwise I would have burned out completely.
I now thought I was doomed and destined for 90km of a headwind on my own. Luckily we formed a group of around 15 people in a decent chain-gang. We didn't catch the front group but ploughed through the miles, although there were no mountains there were 7 or 8 hills of around 100m. As the pace was high and the headwinds constant, these climbs burned. Lactic acid filled my legs like never before. On one of the climbs I honestly thought my legs were going to lock up.

In the last 15km our group split and luckily I remained in the quicker part, everyone was now running on empty. Heads were dropping, legs were freezing. We entered the last few km and ended in a sprint with a Dutch chap who I'd spent the last 50km with, despite my legs feeling like wobbling jelly I piped him to the finish. Nothing won here apart from my own little battle.

Everyone was utterly ruined at the end, yet at the same time hugely happy. Shaking hands and congratulating people from countries all over the world was a good feeling. I ended up 83rd out of 179 people in the 19-34 age group with a time of 4h 39m, an average speed of 35.3kph and 1,650m climbed. My average heart rate was 161bpm and peaking at 186bpm. On a national level I was the 7th fastest rider from the UK. Our nation didn't prove that competitive as the highest ranked British rider was 32nd.

 

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The evening arrived and despite a plan of sinking way too many Danish beers, everyone was completely zonked. A fun event to be a part of, yet it certainly highlighted the level of the continental riders and the pace that they ride at. I would strongly recommend the Tour of Cambridgeshire to anyone in the UK, however next year's UCI event is in Perth, Australia. The decision is yours...

Anthony Roberts

Strava link to the ride - https://www.strava.com/activities/386120634/overview

 
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