Canyon dhb SunGod had an intense period of racing during the second half of August with four races in Belgium and one in the Netherlands – this was in addition to the two National Road Series races back in the UK, so this meant extensive travel, both for the riders and particularly the core support crew of Simon Holt (Directeur Sportive), Eoin O’Donohoe (Mechanic), Jess Wenlock (Soigneur) with local assistance from Philippe Nardella (Soigneur).The races were:
- 17th Aug: UCI 1.1 Egmont Cycling Race
- 20th Aug: UCI 1.1 Grote Prijs Marcel Kint
- 26th Aug: UCI 1.1 Druivenkoers Overijse
- 28th Aug: UCI 1.Pro Brussels Cycling Classic
- 29th Aug: UCI 1.2 Ronde van de Achterhoek
The team called on a strong squad of 14 riders for this program of races with 7 riders participating in each race. They were Jim Brown, Ryan Christensen, Damien Clayton, Callum MacLeod, Thomas Mein, Jacob Scott, Rob Scott, Max Stedman, Charlie Tanfield, Andy Tennant, Rory Townsend, Dan Tulett, Reece Wood & Ollie Wood. Matt Bostock was a late withdrawal from the latter two races to allow more recovery time for the hand injury he suffered during the Tour Series.
This report covers the Egmont Cycling Race on 17th August and the Grote Prijs Marcel Kint on 20th August.
Race 1 (17th Aug) UCI 1.1 Egmont Cycling Race
This well established race was previously known at the GP Stad Zottegem and had been ridden by previous iterations of Tim Elverson’s teams: Bike Channel Canyon in 2017 (the only surviving member of that team being Townsend), Canyon Eisberg in 2018 (Max Stedman 29th) and Canyon dhb Bloor Homes in 2019 (Ryan Christensen 32nd).
1. Egmont team presentation
The 192km challenging course complete with cobbles consisted of a 67km undulating run into Zottegem followed by 7 laps of 18km around the town with three small climbs per lap. The field included 1 World Tour and 5 ProTour teams.
Torrential rain greeted the riders on the start line and this lasted for pretty much the whole of the race. The rain made for treacherous cobbles and slippy corners on smooth tarmac in the towns. A breakaway of five riders escaped from the peloton early on but despite their efforts, none of the Canyon dhb SunGod riders made it across.
2. Stedman, Jacob Scott, Christensen and Mein packing towards the front of the peloton
The Canyon dhb SunGod team rode well as unit keeping in good positions towards the front of the peloton as other riders were gradually shelled out of the back. Tennant and Wood lost contact but Christensen, Mein, Jacob Scott, Stedman and Tulett maintained their momentum as the race progressed.
3. Dan Tulett tracks Connor Swift (Arkea Samsic)
Stedman slipped off with another rider on a greasy corner with only a lap of the town finishing circuit to complete. However, he managed to chase back on and rejoin the remaining peloton which had by now been reduced to about 40 riders.
4. Danny van Poppel (Intermarche) takes the win
The long sprint was led out by Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert and saw the Canyon dhb SunGod team secure 3 places in the Top 20 with Tulett 13th, Stedman 17th and Mein 20th. Scott also finished in the same time as the winner in 29th with Christensen 35sec down in 38th.
This was certainly a promising start to the 5-race program.
Race 2 (20th Aug) UCI 1.1 Grote Prijs Marcel Kint
Ryan Christensen is the only surviving member of the Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes team who took part in the last running of this race in 2019. Christensen was 15th on that occasion.
5. GP Marcel Kint team presentation
The 2021 course wound its way around from Zwevegem to Kortrijk and included two classified hills of around 1km in length at 4-5% gradient that were climbed twice each. The rest of the course was undulating with many narrow lanes and a few sections of cobbles thrown in for good measure. The field included 3 World Tour and 7 ProTour teams.
6. Thomas Mein gets a look-in at the front of the peloton
The peloton remained together for much of the 196km with the Canyon dhb SunGod team largely sitting in the wheels as Deceuninck-Quick Step, Alpecin-Fenix and TotalEnergies dictated the pace.
As the race entered the remaining 10km, the Canyon dhb SunGod riders had deftly moved up the peloton with Christensen, Reece Wood and one other team rider within the top 25. With 3km to go, Christensen was on the back of the Arkea Samsic train, directly on top sprinter Nacer Bouhanni’s wheel.
7. Christensen rode a tactically mature race
At the 2km to go point the Alpecin-Fenix team came up as a unit on the left-hand side of the peloton. However, they misjudged a narrowing of the road in Kortrijk, shouldered an Arkea Samsic rider into an Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert rider which then brought down around another 10 riders. A couple of hundred metres further on a few riders overcooked a corner and crashed onto the pavement. There were Canyon dhb SunGod riders impeded in both of these accidents with only Christensen far enough up with the leaders to avoid the resulting melee.
8. Reece Wood was hampered by crashes in the last 2km
The race was won by Alvaro Jose Hodeg (Deceuninck-Quick Step) with Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) in second and Egmont winner Danny Van Poppel (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) in third. Christensen finished in 14th place with Reece Wood in 27th, both at 5sec. Jacob Scott, Jim Brown and Dan Tulett came in 27sec down in 51st, 53rd and 59th place, respectively. So a single place improvement for Christensen over 2019, but an overall result that might have been much better for the team if those crashed could have been avoided.
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Article by Paul Stedman.
1-4: Sophie Richez
5: Simon Holt
6: Faby Luce
7-8: Jens Morel