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Racing

#8barcrit by Alex Blomeley

September 28, 2016 | By | No Comments

First off the Templehof is sick. Its Regents Park on crack with no cars and the Berliners are understandably proud of it. It’s a huge space and the 1.3km concrete marvel that is the terminal is a sight to behold especially now that it’s current use is to house war refugees from Syria. There’s just something awesome about thrashing it down an airport runway.

8bar and the title sponsor adidas put on an equally impressive show with the now annual #8barCrit. A strong local presence backed with a few international hitters made for a high quality race. I was confident from the outset as I knew who the strongmen were and reckoned I do a good job. A 2nd place in qualifying proved that and I was ready to drop hammers in the final.

The course was technical but really wide. The corners were taped in the dangerous parts so the was plenty of room to manoeuvre. All in all it was a pretty safe days racing, 1 or two crashes but thankfully nothing serious.

Support race and the Women’s final (a cracking battle in that) in the bag it was our turn to make each other suffer. Parade lap done the multi coloured bunting came out for the third and final time to rack the riders up, cute. The crowd was sizeable and the BBQ smoke blowing over the course thick and sausagey. Germans could definitely use a lesson in cheering & heckling from the British and the Americans, you gotta SCREAM GUYS!!! That said they did get into it and the support was good, maybe they hadn’t drunk enough, surprising because the Pilsner is SO good in Berlin.

In the race I attacked, chased and drove the pace a lot. Generally just trying to making a nuisance of myself and take the race by the scruff. It was a lot of fun. 8bar did a good job controlling the race for the first half but missed a beat when they didn’t organise themselves fast enough in bringing back the eventual winner Stefan Schafer. They’d put themselves in the position where they were in charge, they had numbers and had efficiently worked everyone over in the first half so when the Stefan broke everyone looked at them and they bottled it, eventually losing out on a podium as well. Props to Silvio from Standert and Owen from ELF because us three did a whole lot of work on the front keeping the pace hard and fast.

Last few laps got a bit tight with people trying to move up into a winning position but they were chancers and quickly faded as the pace racked up. Unfortunately my sprint got blocked slightly by an 8bar riders saddle shattering in front of me in the last 100m which was a shame as my sprint was good and I was confident of getting the bunch sprint win.

It was a great atmosphere and the organisation was spot on. The weather was great and by the time the finals were in the wind had dropped, much to the surprise of the locals (Tempelhof is notorious for epic wind).

So in the end my results were 2nd fastest qualifier, 2nd in both primes and 4th overall (1 place away from a podium), so for today at least I was the bridesmaid. For all that effort I didn’t win anything but that’s not the point is it? Both races I’ve done in Berlin this year have been some of the most fun I’ve ever had on two wheels. I’ll be back in 2017 for more Pilsner and to improve on my placings from 2016. I’m bringing the team with me, no more bridesmaid.

Words by Alex Blomeley
Photos by Stefan Haehnel

Focus Challenge: Tour de Kaernten 2016

September 16, 2016 | By | No Comments

 

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The other day we were talking about Austria and long ago it was. But the Tour de Kaernten was only the other side of summer. It already feels like a lifetime ago. Perhaps I’ve already repressed the memories of the event: six stages over six stages covering over 400km and 7000m of climbing. I took part with 4/5ths of The 5th Floor Women and as part of my Focus Challenge, I flew out my super light Focus Izalco Max to give myself the best shot of finishing the race. The DT Swiss RC38s giving that sweet spot between aero gains and weight; versatile enough to use on both the flat and the mountain TT stages.

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Don’t get me wrong, the experience was awesome but it was brutal. Completely and utterly brutal. I felt transported to a new world of challenge – racing day on day not only took its toll on the legs, but gearing up mentally sapped energy that I didn’t know I had.

It’s slightly unnerving embarking on something where the end never feels in sight. Having said that, we’d be racing along, absorbed in the effort of going uphill at a pace dictated by the peloton and the next thing we knew it’d be 10km to go. Who knows what happened in between. The first day I found I could hardly take any food on board, let alone get it out of my jersey pocket. The second day we broke up energy bars and put them loose in the pockets, anything to make it slightly less of an effort. By the third day I managed a few glances up at the beautiful scenery – snow topped mountains and dense green forests. It sounds like a lacklustre biblical story over the week but it felt more like a process of survival.

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Crossing the finish line each day felt like a monumental achievement. After each stage I found myself disorientated and grappling for top-ups of ice cold mountain water. Guzzling it down like a crazed person. A little while later the team would be reunited and the four of us would be sprawled by the roadside embracing salt-stained jerseys. Our exhausted expressions melting when it sunk in that we had all just survived another stage. Survived is probably a little modest considering just how well the team did – with Petra taking 2nd overall female and Aoife 3rd. We supported each other tons and those results definitely felt collective.

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People asked afterwards if we deployed any team tactics. For a few stages we managed to keep the green and three-stripes of a teammate in view but on the other days we just raced as hard as we could among the other riders. It was a mixed event with cyclists from all over Europe. We chose the tour because of the amount of climbing. It was a genuine challenge. I get the impression that for a lot of the competitors 2000m in a 70km ride isn’t that daunting. Especially when you have mountains on your doorstep. At least that’s the vibe they gave off when they shot past us up the climbs. That and the fact there seemed to be a lot of “couple tactics” – husbands playing domestique to their wives. Maybe slipstreaming was a condition in their vows.

The stage that stands out is the mountain time trial. We set off at 30 second intervals from a glamorous ski centre car park and simply rode upwards for just over an hour. We went from 590m to 1732m high in just 16km and I think it did something weird to our minds. There had been a storm in the morning and the mountains were shiny with white icing. We went a bit loopy in the thin air and after refuelling on hot mountain stew in an out-of-season ski lodge restaurant, we braved the cold air and cheered on the finishers as they rolled in. I’m still undecided if our support was appreciated or not.

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With the racing done by mid-morning, we spent the downtime sipping local beers and lying down on the lake’s jetty eating peanut butter by the spoon. I’m pretty sure that’s what the pros do out of sight of the media. Salaries and drugs aside, I have a new found respect and awe for those riders in the Grand Tours. Caps officially doffed.

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All the stage profiles and results are on the tour website:

http://www.tourdekaernten.at/?lang=en

 Day  Ride  Adeline Aoife Petra Sophie
1  102km, 1700m 13th 2nd 3rd 4th
 2  39km, 150m 10th 2nd 4th 5th
 3  78km, 1990m 9th 3rd 2nd 4th
 4  16km, 1150m 10th 4th 2nd 6th
 5  91km, 1410m 9th 3rd 2nd 8th
 6  102km, 1060m 9th 3rd 2nd 7th

 

 

What we rode:

Aoife – Ribble R876, 50/34 11-28

Adeline – Cannondale, CAAD10, 50/34 11-28

Sophie – Focus Izalco Max, 52/36 11-28

Petra – Focus Izalco, 50/34 11-28

 

12 Aug

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Red Hook Crit London 2 by Reece Wood

August 12, 2016 | By | No Comments

Alex qualifying in Group 2

George and Reece qualifying in Group 1

As Alex, George and I line up alongside one another on the starting grid, there’s an air of apprehension amongst the riders; we’ve just witness an amazing ride from Dani King who obliterate the entire field in the women’s race, was the same thing about to go down here in the men’s event?
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Getting into my first Red Hook Crit

July 26, 2016 | By | No Comments

I heart trying new types of bike riding. So when the topic of Red Hook Crit London came up, I was like “hells yeah”!
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Nocturne Elite Women’s Race

June 7, 2016 | By | No Comments

Hammering past the pitts into that first main right – the outside line slow, the inside line dicing with cutters. Then sweeping into the first left – nice and wide and smooth. On into the Love Lane chicane and over that smooth turquoise cobbled dial. Followed by the third consecutive right hander, past the huge white banner and blur of faces. And cowbells, so many cowbells. Left, right, into the back straight – maybe a slight drag I don’t know. That lead up to the finish line felt like it went on for an eternity but was over in a flash. The red numbers of the race clock taking longer to come into focus with every approach. Each lap was vying for it’s own title making us play with the different wheels, lines, drains, effort.
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London Nocturne 2016 by Alex Blomeley – Photos by J.Baines

June 7, 2016 | By | No Comments

London Nocturne 2016 and from our perspective the best one yet. A few gripes about the organisation, the lack of pubs surrounding the course and what classes as a critical mechanical failure but on the whole a super successful day. We really liked the St.Pauls circuit it being narrow, technical and flat which makes for fast, heart poppingly strung out racing. The stuff we love and your friendly neighbourhood team in green were out en masse being strongly represented in the LeighDay, Mango Bikes and both the headline Elite races.
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Thundercrit Men’s Race Report

May 18, 2016 | By | No Comments

Firstly, NLTCBMBC outdid themselves. With some great planning and organisation everything went their way on Sunday and we’re stoked for them. The format worked as everyone got some good qualification times and everyone got to race the main event (fastest riders from qualifying at the front). Chapeau guys, it was a great day.
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Thundercrit Women’s Race Report

May 17, 2016 | By | No Comments

Adeline
Two weeks ago, everyone this side of the pond woke up to the videos of RHC. There’s a motorbike and then everything goes real real wrong. Somewhere at the bottom of that pile are our teammates Alex, Reece and George. We’re in Aoife’s flat, getting ready for a big chiltern ride and swallowing porridge isn’t easy that morning.

At some point, Aoife turned to me: “I want to race Thundercrit, do you want to race with me?”
My mouth says “Yeah cool, let’s do it”
But my brain is like “WTF ARE YOU MAD?!”
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03 May

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#5thTrackDay Photos by Jon Baines

May 3, 2016 | By | No Comments

Here are #5thTrackDay’s photos by the talented Jon Baines, just in time to get you hyped for the next track meeting. Click below for the full set.
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12 Apr

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#5thTrackDay: Results

April 12, 2016 | By | 2 Comments

It’s taken a while, but we’ve finally got together the results from our #5thTrackDay. It was an action packed day of back to back racing with beautiful weather for most of it – just a bit of unfortunate rain during the presentations.
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