Max Stedman is dreaming of the Tour de Yorkshire as he prepares for his BIKE Channel Canyon debut in the 73-mile Betty Pharoah Memorial on Sunday (10am).
The 20-year-old, from Crowthorne in Berkshire, is determined to be in flying form next month with the UCI 2.1 stage race coming hot on the heels of three rounds of the Spring Cup.
The first few pedal strokes on that journey take place in Wales on Sunday. And Stedman knows he faces a baptism of fire in his first race of the season.
ONE Pro Cycling will field a full six-man team, while JLT Condor’s in-form Jon Mould is also in the powerful field. Stedman said:
“I’ve never done the Betty Pharoah before but I have heard it is quite a grippy circuit. Mouldy is doing it and he is going pretty well!
“Luckily, it has a bit of an uphill finish, I think. Maybe 1.5km at five per cent, so it drags. But I think the real sting in the tail will be the six ONE Pro boys.
“It will all depend on how they play it. It will be a good gauge for me to see how I’m going compared to them ahead of the Prems.
“There will be quite a lot of tactics involved. With six against the rest, you have to be cagey and be cautious over which moves you follow.
“They may do what we did at Perfs, try to stick everyone in the gutter and get it down to a small group. I wouldn’t mind that at all.
“It is a bit more predictable and you just have to make sure you are in the right position. Trying to chase six guys might be a little harder!”
Stedman has gone part-time at the University of Exeter, splitting the final year of his degree over 24 months to help dedicate more time to his cycling.
He has recently returned from a training camp in Girona with BIKE Channel Canyon team-mate Mitchell Webber, who will join him on the grid on Sunday.
And along with some useful work on the track, where he finished fifth in the points race at the national championships, Stedman reckons the combination has given him a strong base. He said:
“I had a little knee injury in December, which was a annoying, but once I got over that it has been pretty smooth running.
“It was a bit of a last minute to do the track nationals but they went pretty well. Climbing is obviously my strength but it is always good to work on your flat speed every now and then.
“The track has allowed me to do that and I feel strong. I feel like I’m going better than I was this time last year.
“If anything I have actually put a bit of weight on and I think that has helped me stave off any illnesses during the winter.
“Now I’ll hopefully get a good block of work done this month. I want to be flying in April. I’m looking forward to a big April, with three Prems and then hopefully the Tour de Yorkshire.”
The Tour de Yorkshire takes place from April 28-30. The teams competing in the three-day stage race have yet to be announced.