‘Scout report’ is a new series in which we highlight some of the lesser-celebrated-but-nonetheless-notable performances from British riders.
I see the result as a good confidence-builder leading into my bigger goals for the rest of the year
Oliver Knight (20 years old)
Rider type: In our interview with Oliver last year he described himself as “a bit of an all-rounder”, and said, “I’ve always felt pretty suited to time trialling though mainly, and have tried to use that to become a better climber too over the last couple of years.”
Background: A Rayner Foundation rider and one we have admired for a few years now. After a successful spell as a junior for the HMT Hospitals–Giant squad, netting a silver medal in the junior national 10 mile championships, finishing second overall in the Junior Tour of the Basque Country behind Carlos Rodriguez, and a classy win in the final stage of la Vuelta a Pamplona, Knight had definitely caught our eye. Last season, his first as an under-23, Oliver joined AVC Aix-en-Provence and managed a run of racing in February before resuming things in August, completing the prestigious Ronde de l’Isard and U23 Paris-Tours races.
Team: AVC Aix-en-Provence (France). A top-level ‘DN1’ amateur team in France based in Provence. It has a history with British riders: Harrison Wood, Simon Carr and Alex Braybrooke are all recent alumni.
Name & date: Cursa Festes del Tura-Olot, 20 March 2021
Location: Catalonia, Spain
Course: In Oliver’s words, “The course was one big loop with a little finishing circuit that you do once after passing through the finish straight. A mainly rolling route with a few longer drags and some shorter kickers towards the end. The final 5km are usually the main decider, with a 2km climb that pitches up to 10% followed by a quick descent into the finish.”
Status: U23/Elite race
This was Oliver’s first race of the season, despite him being listed in race results as having raced in Spain the previous weekend. As he explains, “Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get out to France in time for the first few races of the season, so the race at Olot was my season opener. I believe I am mistakenly down in the results for those races due to my team having entered me and using another rider in my slot (currently being fixed). It was a nice way to open up the season with a race fresh in my memory from last year, having been run a lot later in the season.”
The race involved a decent field of 200 starters, which Oliver reports made for quite a nervous bunch at the start of the race. How did the race then play out for him?
“I tried mainly to conserve as much energy as I could before the final 30 km, the part of the course that had the main bulk of the climbing. I went into it pretty fresh and felt good on the first of the few shorter climbs, making a little front split that had a little gap. Over the top of the climb, I put in a little attack and got a gap on my own with 25 km to go. I was shortly joined by one other who worked well.
We managed to stay away from the bunch, only getting caught by one other rider on the final climb. I had a good descent and was set to make the final turn in first wheel. A car on the circuit with 200m to go caused a different outcome, however. I picked the wrong way around it and came in 3rd behind the two others, who had picked the other side. It was a shame, to say the least, but sometimes it’s out of your control and it’s good for motivation moving forward.“
“It was certainly nice to get on the podium for the first race of the year. I was confident of the form coming into the season, but you never know how the legs will be after such a long winter. I see the result as a good confidence builder leading into my bigger goals for the rest of the year.”
“My biggest aims for this year come later in the season with Ronde de l’Isard and hopefully the Giro Valle d’Aosta too. For now, I’m looking for a result in one of the first few French Cup races over the next month. As with last year, a lot of the bigger races are scheduled pretty late on so I look forward to a busy schedule from July through to October.“
Featured photo: Ana Dominguez