Rory Townsend (Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes) and Ethan Vernon (Great Britain) kept race diaries for The British Continental throughout the Tour of Britain. This is Rory’s final diary
I got the news from Tim [Elverson] that the jersey was safe and then after that I just sort of relaxed and came back into town pretty happy – ‘relieved’ is a better word to be fair!
Stage 8 wrap
Stage 8 was all about defending the Eisberg sprints jersey for Rory Townsend. Things started well when Matt Holmes (Madison Genesis), Gabriel Cullaigh (Team Wiggins Le Col) and Emil Vinjebo (Riwal Readynez) went up the road. None of them were rivals for the jersey.
But then the race erupted into life approaching the infamous climb of the Rake above Ramsbottom as Team INEOS hit the front. The race split to pieces, and Rory was caught on the wrong side of things. Unable to get back to the front of the race, Rory’s fate was in the hands of others. Fortunately for him, his lead stayed intact as the remaining intermediate sprint points were swept up by riders not in contention.
Rory crossed the line over 6 minutes down in 54th place, safe in the knowledge he’d achieved the ambition he’d set out in his very first diary entry of winning the Eisberg sprints jersey.
Rory’s stage 8 diary
I can’t call it a particularly enjoyable last day. It was not one where I was able to relax and just enjoy being in the jersey. The stage started pretty well. A good group went up the road for me personally. No one in the group was in the running for the sprints jersey, I marked [his nearest sprints jersey rival] Bagdonas out of it, everything started really well.
I thought Ineos would have something up their sleeve, you know; they had to throw something at it. I saw them moving up on the climb and before the crosswinds, and I just couldn’t get myself up there quick enough. So I got caught out in the split, and then I in a situation where I was in the group behind just hoping that the right people wouldn’t cross the [intermediate sprints] line, which meant I could keep it the jersey.
But then I got the news from Tim [Elverson] that the jersey was safe and then after that I just sort of relaxed and came back into town pretty happy – ‘relieved’ is a better word to be fair!
I think looking at the race as a whole, I am reasonably happy. I did have the aim to win the sprints jersey, given that any GC aspirations would have been difficult given the situation I was in regarding the time trial bike. I was always going to lose time there and it would have been really difficult for me to have made the time back to make any kind of serious or reasonable GC challenge.
And then obviously after the crash I was not quite myself. I think hindsight’s really easy, but on reflection, stage 4 [when Rory crashed] was a bit of a turning point. I had three really good stages before then and I probably could have wrapped up the jersey on stage 4, but instead I wanted to try and sit in and go for the stage win. But really I should have just locked the jersey down and then go for the stages after that. Had I done that, obviously I wouldn’t have crashed. But it’s a lot of ifs, buts, and maybes in reference to that.
Now the focus is on just trying to recover. I need to rest the body a little bit
If I was to take something from the race, it’s that if I target something and really plan how I’m going to do it, it makes a lot more attainable for me. I think my goals were quite achievable when I set them, so that’s a good thing as well. Obviously it was a great race for me, in terms of the way people viewed my performance. It’s been really well received. I’ve received nice messages, which has been great as well. It’s just another little bonus to have taken out of the race.
Now the focus is on just trying to recover. I need to rest the body a little bit. Obviously my ribs are still quite bad, but they’re not stopping me from riding too much, so I’m just taking it easy for now. Then I’ll put a few more rides in, in preparation for Worlds next week, which is really really exciting. I just want to do my best for that now.
Featured photo: Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.com. 2019 OVO Energy Tour of Britain – Stage 8: Altrincham to Manchester, England – Rory Townsend of Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes on the podium in the Eisberg sprints jersey