Harry Evans takes 2nd at Tour of Sussex
Over the 18-19th September a team comprising of Harry, Connor, Luke and Mark took on the Tour of Sussex which this year was shortened to three stages over two days: two road races sandwiching an individual uphill time trial. Mark Aldred reports back from the weekend.
Being the organised professional outfit that we are, Plan A was hurriedly devised the night before and in the car-park just before stage 1. The idea was to save energy on the flat stage 1 (as it was most likely to stay together and finish in a sprint), give it some beans on the TT and then see where we stood before the selective Beachy Head stage 3.
Stage 1 was on the flattish Halland course, which lived up to expectations with the bunch staying pretty much together for the duration. We decided that Harry would be our main GC contender, and in the last couple of laps we worked well together to try and keep him protected in the wheels and stop anything getting away. Luke in particular did a great job chasing down some chancers towards the end. Three did get away for 25s, but the remainder of the bunch rolled over the line together, although in the wake of an artic lorry which had decided to join the sprint finish and took 4th on the stage.
After a lot of waiting around, we were then primed for the second stage: an individual time trial from Eastbourne seafront up to Beachy Head. The first half is a relatively shallow gradient through a couple of hairpins (similar to Box) before opening out into a rolling finish along the top to Beachy Head, which fortunately this year came with a wafting tailwind. Harry set a storming time of 7:02 for 9th on the stage, backed up by Mark with 7:18, Connor 7:21 and Luke 7:50. This put Harry up to 9th on GC at 40s, and the team 4th overall. A successful first day.
Stage 3 was on the scenic Beachy head course, which somehow became less and less picturesque with each of the 9 times up the climb. Harry had planned to throw the dice and true to his word attacked after one lap, opening a gap of 1minute 20 over the bunch which was thinning with each lap. Three more chipped off the front and joined Harry after 4 laps, with the gap staying at about a minute. With four laps to go the bunch started riding with a bit more urgency and with riders being shelled out the back reduced down to about 25.
WIth Harry up the road, Connor, Luke and I were happy to sit in and let others do the chasing, including the yellow jersey who was realising his lead was now in jeopardy. Unfortunately, going across the finish line with 2 laps to go a touch of wheels in the group took a few people down including myself, with Connor and Luke caught behind. My race was over but Connor and Luke rode strongly to finish, with Connor picking up a top 25 and an excellent 23rd overall in his first stage race. Meanwhile up front the gap between the four breakaways and the bunch was coming down but not quickly enough for the chasers, and Harry finished an excellent second on the stage, which propelled him up to 2nd overall on GC just 8s off the win. He also picked up the points jersey after taking two primes on the third stage following his solo shenanigans. Not a bad haul!
We also finished 4th Team overall (and I managed to take the Lanterne Rouge!), so a successful weekend out for KWCC. Will aim to be back for more next year!