2019 begun a little differently to previous years for Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes, with a training camp out in Calpe, Spain. The team booked a large villa for the entire month so riders were able to come and go as they pleased. All riders were required to attend the last week of the camp for some more structured training and a full shakedown.
Sports director Tim Elverson and assistant DS Simon Holt joined the team alongside mechanic Lee Askew and one of the teams swannie’s Tuc. Our photographer, Hugh, joined everyone a little later in the week to get some great shots of the riders on their new custom built Aeroad CF SLX race bikes which were brought along for some testing and tweaks ahead of the first race of the year, Challenge Mallorca.
dhb also joined the team for a couple of days on the camp which was a great chance for them to introduce themselves and meet the riders.
Kirsty Smith, senior marketing manager at dhb, was excited to meet the team and said…
“It was fantastic to see the team together out in Calpe. It already felt like a family which was amazing to see.
I really appreciated having the opportunity to introduce who dhb are as a brand to everyone, and highlight some of things we’ll be delivering for the team, as well as our expectations of them.
It’s really important to dhb that our Canyon dhb relationship is a collaborative one, and we all felt welcomed into the fold which I can only see benefitting our relationship going forward.
Some of us even took a turn on ‘fanning’ during one very hot and sweaty Zwift race… you can’t get much closer than that”
Richard Land, senior product manager at dhb, expressed the importance of the partnership between the team and dhb, saying…
“Meeting the team as early as we could in the season was incredibly important to all who attended from dhb as we see this as a partnership and not just providing race kit to the riders.
Working with the team last year has been incremental in changing and developing many products that we will be launching in 2019. Being able to distil the thousands of kilometres ridden by the team is helping dhb to shape the future for our customers.
“The atmosphere was great. It didn’t feel like some of these riders were just getting to know each other, but had already travelled many roads together. Passing on information to the riders and having our first feedback session on their training kit was a great way to start the year and we are looking forward to many more highs with the team this season”
Whilst the team were out in Calpe, the first round of the Zwift KISS Super League kicked off. Four riders took part together in one of the villa’s. Alex Paton explains how it went…
“Having competed in many Zwift races over Winter, I had a good idea what was in store for the first KISS Super League. Pain and suffering were in their abundance.
With a slightly compromised set up, our make shift Zwift area consisted of tables, chairs, a drinks cabinet and ONE fan for 4 guys. We did later have some kind helpers fanning with any available furniture. The Zwift races are great fun and an even better workout.
A lot of it comes down to technique (which I need to perfect) but all in all not too bad with 3 of us in the top 25 I recall.
I think Zwift is a great training tool and to be able to create a fun atmosphere and introduce competition between people all over the world is amazing”
Elverson was pleased with the progress made on the camp, summing it up by saying…
“It’s been really good to start the season in the way I’ve wanted to for the last couple of years.
We have been fortunate enough to have this early season preparation and the guys have taken it on board and really glued together.
Having the time to learn how some of the guys fit together with the use of race training simulation hopefully means we can hit the ground running.
Obviously the first few races are still a learning curve but I believe we have saved ourselves a months worth of race mistakes.”
At the end of the camp, 10 riders including staff, moved onto Mallorca ready for Challenge Mallorca, a series of four professional one day races against some of the world’s best.
Mallorca is known for its winds on the island and this lived up to expectation, especially on day one.
The first race took the riders from Ses Salines to Felantix, a total distance of 176.9km. Jacob Hennessy was in an early move of three riders that stayed away for the majority of the day. With 4km to go, there was a big crash which took down six of our riders. This unfortunately led to further setbacks later in the week. Despite this, after a strong ride in the break, Jacob Hennessy came away with the sprints jersey.
Following the end of stage one, Max unfortunately came down ill and Rory injured his wrist, so Tim Elverson had some last minute rider changes to make and drafted in Richardson and Paton for day two.
It was a hilly day ahead for the team riding stage two which started in Andratx and finished in Lloseta, totalling 172.4km.
Dan Pearson finished first in the second group, narrowly missing the front group. Pearson displayed a good performance considering he was carrying injuries from the previous day’s crash.
Stage three saw the riders start in Soller and finish in Deia, a slightly shorter stage of 143.9km. After a brutal start consisting of a 30-minute climb, the stage was set to be a tough day with multiple climbs and changes in wind direction. With Tom Stewart, Alex Paton, Alex Colman and Dan Pearson all making a select peloton of mostly world tour riders, eventually Alex Colman was the last man standing (or cycling) and our best finisher. Tom Stewart rolled in a couple of places behind him after a cold, wet and sometimes hailing day in the saddle.
The last and final stage of Challenge Mallorca started in Playa de Palma and finished in Palma, a total distance of 159.6km.
This was the flattest stage out of the four days ending with a likely sprint finish in Palma centre.
On a day more suited to the teams style, the guys rode really well together, making sure they were in prime position for a strong sprint lead out.
In the closing kilometres, rubbing shoulders with some of the top teams, the guys delivered Rob McCarthy towards the head of the race. Unfortunately Rob found himself with little space to open his sprint effort fully and had to settle for 18th place. Frustrating, but to still came away with a top 20 alongside some of the world’s best is a promising start.
Rob McCarthy said of stage four…
“The stage went as expected and was ridden for a bunch sprint, the team rode really well all day riding in good position and keeping together.
In the final stages, the boys road awesome up to 3km to go to get us in position but in the final 3km we got split up and ended up boxed in and unable to sprint properly.
All in all it’s a positive sign given the quality of the field and we will get it right in future”
Moving onto February, the next focus was Perfs Pedal, the first UK season debut for the team, which they have been doing year on year.
After a traditional fast start, by lap two the race eventually settled as a select small group cleared from the peloton including Alex Paton, 2018 Perfs winner, and Jacob Vaughan.
Gradually the lead group worked to stay clear of the chasing peloton before Alex started to attack the group and was the solo leader for a while.
However coming into the finish, it would be a battle between Alex, Jacob and one other to fight for the win. Jacob delivered a strong ride to come into finish with a clear margin and Alex claiming third place.
Jacob Vaughan, race winner was thrilled with his first win of the season…
“I’m really happy with this win, it was an excellent team performance and I’m glad I could finish it off.
This race means a lot to me and the team, so it’s an excellent start to what I hope will be an amazing season”
On Monday 11th February, the team held their 2019 team presentation at the City of London Distillery.
Marty MacDonald hosted a great evening speaking to some of our title sponsors and staff before presenting our 19-man squad. A huge thanks to Andrew Turner, director at Eisberg, for organising the venue which turned out to be a fantastic location.
The team now look ahead to the rest of the season which sees them taking part in a busy split calendar racing in the UK, Belgium, Holland, France and Italy.
Tim Elverson is excited about the busy season ahead and said…
“This year we have the race calendar that fits a top continental team so now all we have to do is get the results of a top continental team.
I believe we have a great squad who can really look forward to the challenges that lie ahead.
We have the opportunity to get some big results and constantly press the pro conti and world tour teams. This is hugely exciting for us and also all the partners that really are part of the journey.
At the minute I think we have 50+ days of UCI racing, 29 National A races plus a smattering of National B’s. It’s going to be very busy but we have the support and back room staff that can get the job done.
Bring it on!”
Follow the team as they embark on their 2019 race season on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.