Fraser’s YToS 2016

I jumped at the opportunity when I saw I had a chance to ride The youth Tour of Scotland. When team selection was final I was happy as I had known Matthew for many years and get on well with Scott and Douglas. My build up was strange as I had a good training plan which worked well then changed to one I was supplied with where I plateaued. I then crashed on a recce ride of the courses in late February and missed one week of training and one of my planned warm up races, I then spent the next week easing back into training and just did lots of hard road rides to get back to form of some sort.

1/4/16

Today, I did not have to go to school as I had a letter from Scottish cycling. This allowed me to sleep and do last minute kit checks/changes. We arrived at Strathallan at roughly the same time as the rest of team and signed on together. Unlike some teams we did not do any recce rides today which was fine as me and Scott had both been up a month or so ago to recce the courses. Dinner was decent and I was trying to carbo-load so ate tonnes.

As a team we were probably the least experienced team as only one of our riders(z?) had previous stage race experience. We were probably the smallest too as despite the fact I am tall, other teams had some giants on their roster.

2/4/16 stage 1 – Nice day for a ride

Stage 1 was in Forteviot, about 3 miles from Strathallan. It was a course I liked from the recces a month ago. We arrived at the start in good time but the start ended up delayed as the bus was late. I had an ok start but just as I moved up the bunch got caught behind a crash. I sorted myself and my bike and headed off unscathed about 30 seconds later. I went full gas to chase on only to arrive in Forteviot to see the stage had been stopped for a while, this wasn’t great as I went from 200bpm to stopping. I felt rusty when the stage restarted and was out the back straight away, I caught back on and tried following a Belgian and we made it to the front then he sat up and I was stuck on his wheel straight to the back again!!! He then worked right up and I ended up not following him as I did not trust him. I ended up working through various splinter groups for the remainder and got lapped late on. On the bell lap I struck a truce with the rider with SC East & Central I was with so we would ride to the Flamme Rouge then sprint. In the peloton there was a crash in the final with bodies everywhere just where I was going to launch my move, it came down to a 100m sprint which I was pipped to the line in as I stupidly sprinted upright on the hoods. My result was not great but I was first from the team. The food was not the best but eating was necessary to refuel and recover

3/4/16 stage 2 TTT – Classics weather

This stage was in Coupar, Angus, which is like 30 miles away. We warmed up together only to find out the stage start was going to be delayed by 30 minutes. We sat in the van then warmed up again. In the brutal, Ghent-Wevelgem-2015-esque, conditions we set off for our start. We started in height order at 10:51am, straight away my gears were jumping something new (more on that later) this made the tempo unsteady as I could not keep it constant with my gears jumping from 52-16 one second to 52-25 the next. We lost our 4th rider about a mile in due to varying levels of ability. Douglas, Scott and I finished the remainder with Scott digging outstandingly deep to make sure we had 3 riderz. We showed good teamwork and initiative to keep our weakest man protected in the last few miles.

On the cooldown my gear jumping got worse and I kept stalling. Eventually my gear hanger snapped!

The break between races was filled with my bike being rushed to Auchterarder (we forgot to take timing chip off) and having to persuade commissaries to let me use a borrowed bike (which was too small) and timing chip. Thanks to Lindsay McGarvie (team manager) of Scottish cycling south west for the bike.

3/4/16 stage 3 – Classics weather

Again in Coupar Angus on the same circuit and said borrowed bike we started, again delayed. I got caught in the large washing machine going from back to front to back to front to back and was in the middle when the second lap crash happened close to the front, bodies were everywhere. The brakes on the borrowed bike were at a different tension than I ride mine so I was going to ride past but a rider fell into a ditch so I slammed the brakes on but ended up smashing my foot against the ground and hurting my hip doing so. The race was neutralised then stopped at the start/finish line for 30 minutes. When we restarted I went out the back early and spent lap 1 at the coattails of the bunch I dropped back to what seemed like a strong group behind with riders I knew were strong not knowing how much the crash had taken its toll on them. As the miles ticked by the pain in my hip increased but I rode steady with another 2 all the way round and kept myself fit enough for the next day. We arrived back at Srathallan only 30 minutes before dinner closed so I showered rapid and got there to scran everything in sight, the food was nicer than the previous night.

4/4/16 stage 4 – Flanders?

The final stage and the weather made yesterday’s TTT look lovely. There were crosswinds, rain and mud. Then throw in a steep, Flandrian, climb (albeit tarmac-ed) followed by an offroad section, twisty descent, and a badly surfaced twisty, narrow approach to the climb you had a race and a half. The start was farcical with the neutralised zone finished before the regrouping of the two halves of the bunch were together. I made up places on the climb but got caught behind others on the descent then caught in the crosswinds at the bottom which meant I ended further back in a bunch of about 8 or 9 which went down to about 6 on the next ascent of the climb and down to 4 the nest time. After a few laps it went to 3 – me, a Welsh rider and a rider from Manchester. The Manchester rider broke away a while later but with 7 laps left I blew the Welshman off my wheel and caught him on the gravel section at the top and we rode steady together thinking there was nobody within minutes. On the last lap neither of us realised it was the last lap so did not sprint for our minor positions.

“Out of sight, out of mind”- Neither I nor the Manchester rider realised there were 8 riders within a minute of us so did not chase full gas thinking there was no point, if we had we could both have been many places higher. But that was as much my fault as his.

Evaluation

I enjoyed myself and was pleased to finish. I could see my climbing was strong and was able to see that I am weak on the flat. I feel I learned a lot and rode into form which is looking good for my main goal of the season which is the Scottish championships. I would like to thank Andrew and Graeme for giving me the opportunity to ride and would recommend it to any other riderz (and riders from other clubs too) who have the opportunity. I would also like to thank Andrew for being a good team manager.

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