First-year under-23 Mattie Dodd is one of our journal contributors in 2023. Riding for the UCI Continental Tirol-KTM development team, he is supported by the Rayner Foundation. Juggling the 90-day rule, he has been darting back and forth mainland and Europe and the UK as he continues his racing education…
Ah, the Brexit 90-day rule, what a faff. For those unfamiliar with the logistical conundrum that has become the source of so much angst for many a British rider on European teams, it essentially states that you are only allowed to spend 90 days out of a 180 days in Schengen zone countries. With the cycling season being considerably longer than 90 days, and my visa situation not yet fully sorted, it means I need to come home for a while to “buy some time”.
The past six weeks (41 days since we’re counting now…) out in Europe has seen me in six different countries, take to the start line fourteen times and have countless experiences after my slow start to the year while still at school. The latest of those pretty cool experiences was finishing up the iconic Planche des Belle Filles in the mist on a stage that saw the race blown to pieces across the hills of Alsace-Lorraine.
It was nice to see my shape felt like it was coming along nicely after a hard week’s reintroduction to racing that was the Tour of Austria
The Tour Alsace was a race that saw a bit of everything, from a team time trial prologue, to crosswinds, to mountain summit finishes, to horizontal rain and beautiful sun, and even a guest appearance from Steve Chainel (yes, he of Netflix fame) suddenly appearing by the side of the road on the final stage. It wasn’t a race that saw us have any particular successes results wise, but it was nice to see my shape felt like it was coming along nicely after a hard week’s reintroduction to racing that was the Tour of Austria. There’s nothing quite like racing to get the engine firing on all cylinders again.
After ten days and a brief bout of food poisoning (avoid old rice cakes at all costs), it was back to the UK thanks to the aforementioned 90 day rule. The advantages of that being, firstly, I’m able to see my two dogs (don’t tell my family I said that…) and, secondly, I could race the Ryedale Grasscrete Grand Prix – the third round of the men’s National Road Series in the Howardian Hills of Yorkshire.
It was good fun to go in as an underdog and know that I was racing solely for myself
It was my first experience of the National Road Series after racing a round of the Austrian equivalent earlier in the year. I, like many others, have seen the Saint Piran domination of the Series so far, and I was excited to race on what was to be hard course with a strong field with some clear favourites.
Other than the odd mate who might give a bit of leniency in the bunch, I was totally solo without any team back up to rely on. In a way that could be seen as a disadvantage, but it was good fun to go in as an underdog and know that I was racing solely for myself. It also meant for far easier feeding as there was no need to try and make life easier for a poor soigneur being expected to have faster hands than Muhammad Ali as he tries to hand out five bottles in the space of five seconds.
There was a reasonably fast start that saw the usual bun fight for the early move. After roughly 45 minutes, I jumped across to a group forming up the road on the third climb of the day and found myself in the closest thing to what could be considered an early break. After an hour or so of rolling through in that break, not all of which could be described as harmonious, a group of five bridged across. It was at this point that the Saint Piran show started. I have to take my hat off to them, it’s impressive to see first-hand the way that they are able to use their numbers so effectively, something that is easier said than done.
I ended up being reasonably disappointed by the end result, but pleased with the way I raced – I’d much prefer to take the race on than be on the back foot all day
After hanging out front in what, I think, was the third of the small groups littered around the Yorkshire hills for the next hour or so, I, along with my breakaway companions, started to fade in the last hour and was eventually caught by what was left of the peloton. I ended up being reasonably disappointed by the end result, but pleased with the way I raced – I’d much prefer to take the race on than be on the back foot all day.
It’s now back out to Europe after my brief period back in the risking my life and limbs at the hands of London’s finest drivers. I’ll be pinning a number on again at the next round of the Austrian Radliga, in Branau in Oberösterreich (attempt to pronounce at your peril). It’s also worth mentioning the Rayner Foundation, without who’s support, racing and living in Europe would be a lot more difficult. Having helped countless riders now tearing up the WorldTour in their younger years, it’s very cool to be supported by them, and I, like many other young British riders, can’t thank them enough.
Featured image: Craig Zadoroznyj/SWpix.com
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