With just over a week until the Asda Tour de Yorkshire, preparations for the Storey Racing team ramped up with a visit to the Netherlands for the UCI1.1 Omloop Van Borsele race.
As an added bonus there was also a TT event on the night before which provided 3 of the team’s TT specialists with the opportunity for a hit out on a closed road event.
Monica Dew, EJay Harris and Sarah Storey were in TT action whilst Ffion James, Rebecca Durrell, Chanel Mason, Joscelin Lowden and Beth Crumpton joined Harris for the 130km road race.
With the first of the good weather to enjoy the team arrived a day early to recce both routes, staying in the local town of Goes. Both courses were flat and fast with plenty of corners, narrow roads and gravel to contend with.
The TT started at 1930 local time as the event was shared with a round of the Junior Nations Cup. This provided a perfect opportunity to witness some of the best junior women in action too.
Sarah Storey was the first team rider off coming back to international action just six months after Charlie, her second child was born last October. Herself admitting she was still improving every week, Sarah set a time of 30:10 to be inside the top 10 initially before eventually finishing in 18th place.
Monica Dew was back to full health again after an unlucky recent bout of flu and clocked 31:15 in a well executed ride. Both herself and Sarah posting solid power files thanks to their Jam Cycling supplied Infocrank power meters. These tools have been valuable in rider development and ensure lessons are always learned when riders aren’t expecting to hit the top of a results page.
EJay Harris clocked a 29:37 which gave her another UCI Top 10 result. Whilst not overly pleased with the result, reflection post race with Barney Storey gave her plenty of valuable feedback so she could revisit certain elements in training. Being consistently inside the top 10 but not satisfied is always the sign of a motivated rider.
With less then 24 hours to switch in to road race mode the team had a swift morning loosen up spin on smaller of the two loops the course followed. Again the weather was bright and sunny with a stiff breeze picking up to add to the need for good positioning during the race.
The team attacked the race well, always well positioned in the front 3rd of the bunch and communicating well together. As the race approached the final 3rd there was bad luck for both Chanel and Beth. Chanel crashed whilst Beth came to take bottles from the car just at the point the race started to ramp up again after a small lull and the increase of speed left her unable to make it back to the front as gaps opened up in the rear of the bunch.
With two riders gone, Joss Lowden was the next to get gapped after having a superb race trying to force moves away at the front. For the first time in a while the race would come down to a bunch sprint despite the efforts of our team to place riders like Joss in the break.
Ffion James took control of the final finding her sprinters in EJay and Becks and the 3 of them were together and well positioned as they entered the final kilometre. A crash at 500m to go split things before Becks herself was taken out in another crash at 300m to go. A further crash at 200m cemented what had been a messy race, with the standard and quality of bike handling significantly lower than is expected at this level.
Fortunately all riders came off unscathed and the damage to Chanel’s KASK Infinity helmet saving her from a more significant impact.
The team have now returned to their home programmes with the line up for Tour de Yorkshire released later this week.