Ribble Weldtite DS Colin Sturgess is one of our eight journal contributors in 2022. In his first entry, he looks ahead to the team’s first UCI road race of the year, celebrates Cam Jeffers’ Eddie Soens win, and explains what’s around the corner racing-wise for both the team and himself…
I don’t want to be seen to be wishing time away, but these past few months have dragged by! I’ve been based in and around Calpe most winter, steadfast in my resolve to dodge the infamous Mud Island weather. But I’ve been hankering quietly to get the racing underway. Ribble Weldtite took a decision early not to race either the Saudi Tour or the GP Valenciana, and concentrate rather on conditioning at training camp and having all our infrastructure on point.
And so here we are… I’m sat on a rather choppy P&O ferry to Calais and onto the UCI 1.2 Dorpenomloop Rucphen in Northern Brabant, Nederland with Stuart Balfour, Finn Crockett, Alex Peters, Ross Lamb and Ollie Peckover while Harry Tanfield and Red Walters fly in from Spain.
Rucphen is a typical flat, windy, challenging Dutch circuit over 186km; and the British teams are here en masse. Trinity, WiV SunGod, GB National, and us make up 28 riders – a decent percentage of the field. The rest of the peloton being made up of a single Pro Conti team, and many European-based Conti squads. A good solid field of approximately 170 riders. The sheer size of the bunch will be a challenge early, and on some of the technical sections through the suburbs riders will need to watch for dropped wheels, gaps opening, as well as the good old road furniture. The Dutch love a bollard and klinker or two, and narrowing roads are a feature of this particular parcours.
I’m hoping for a strong showing from the guys as they were impressive on training camp, and whilst I’m acutely aware the first race of the season is always fraught, I do think we can podium
I’ve asked my guys to be particularly attentive early doors as a moment of inattention can see you rolling around on the tarmac watching your race disappear rapidly up the road. I’m hoping for a strong showing from the guys as they were impressive on training camp, and whilst I’m acutely aware the first race of the season is always fraught, I do think we can podium. We have options that other teams don’t.
We are also looking forward to seeing how our new Ribble Ultra SLR bikes handle the tough Dutch racing. The guys ironed out a few wrinkles with them on camp, and have taken to them well. Apart from anything else, the bikes are certainly a talking point!
Whilst the Rucphen selection have been preparing to hoon around in the “waaiers” (echelons) over here, we had another selection racing at the Eddie Soens Memorial up at Aintree. With Saint Piran targeting this with 15 strong riders, we were looking to upset the form and have a three-pronged attack with Cam Jeffers, Matt King, and last edition’s winner Jacob Tipper. We also had a joker up the sleeve too in Simon Wilson, while Will, Rich, Jack and Tom were all tasked with a domestique role. It seems to have worked a treat; just as I finished writing this we got the news that Cam crossed the line with his hands in the air!
Moving on, Ribble Weldtite have a few weeks of domestic racing supporting a couple of National Bs, and other local races including some TTs, and then onto Tour du Loir et Cher (France) and the GP Arno Wallard Memorial again in the Netherlands.
Personally, I’m keeping myself busy with DS duties, and relatively fit and healthy with some miles on the bike. I may have accidentally entered a 10m TT. The change in temperature from Calpe to Leicester has been a shock to the system, but thankfully my HUUB Ribble Weldtite winter kit arrived so I have no excuses. Except rain… I’m not riding in the rain. Those days are over!
Featured photo: Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling
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