The Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes riders were competing in three different races in the Low Countries on Sunday, 11th August.
UCI 1.1 Slag om Norg
The riders competing in the UCI 1.1 Slag om Norg race near Assen in the Netherlands were Alex Colman, Jacob Hennessy, Ryan Christensen, Callum Macleod, Alex Paton and Tom Stewart.
The parcours is similar to that found at the Rutland-Melton International CiCLE Classic and Tro-Bro Leon in northern France, being stacked with sections of gravel roads totalling 30km, though without the hills of those two races.
The 187km course made a southerly loop, then a northerly loop, followed by five 15.2km local laps centred on the town of Norg. The strong winds made it impossible to escape in the initial phase of the race but on the first gravel section after 64km the peloton broke into two. There were many further splits on the Norg laps which were scattered with gravel sections.
With three laps to go there was a lead group of eight riders which included Christensen, despite literally biting the dust on one corner, and Colman along with two riders from the Pro Continental team Corendon-Circus.
A chase group of ten also included Stewart putting the Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes team in a very strong position.
With 20km to go, the gap between these two groups was just 20 seconds and attacks started firing off in both. Colman was dropped from the lead group with 18km to go with further riders being dropped over the next 10km.
With just 3.5km to go Stewart made it across to the reduced lead group of four, still including Christensen, with two other riders.
With 2km to go the lead group of now six riders were winding up for the anticipated sprint finish. Christensen made an attempt to breakaway, which was as much an effort to weaken the other riders to favour Stewart.
After Christensen was brought back by the other riders, Stewart was first to make the move in the final sprint and with 50 metres to go it looked like victory might be his.
However, ex-World Tour rider Coen Vermeltfoort (Alecto Cycling Team) stormed past on the inside of the finishing curve to deny Stewart who took second place from Ivar Slik (Monkey Town-a Bloc) in third. Christensen followed in a strong 7th place with a rejuvenated Colman in 15th.
Tactically this was a great race from the Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes team with Christensen and Colman working well to keep the lead group out in front, with Stewart biding his time in the chase group leaving other riders to ultimately bridge the gap.
UCI 1.2 Antwerpse Havenpijl
Those taking on the 181km UCI 1.2 Antwerpse Havenpijl on the flat roads of northern Belgium were Matthew Bostock, Stijn de Bock, Louis Rose-Davies, Charles Page, Andy Tennant and Jacob Vaughan.
This race has been a happy hunting ground for Tim Elverson’s teams with Harry Tanfield finishing 2nd here in 2017 and Rory Townsend finishing 8th in 2018.
The course consisted of two large laps of 45km looping northwards towards the Dutch border followed by six smaller laps of 15km centred around Merksem in the northern suburbs of Antwerp, the second largest port in Europe.
Despite the windy conditions, the riders largely kept together with a couple of threatening breaks soon being brought back into the peloton, so the race finished with a mass bunch sprint.
An unfortunate puncture late on meant that in-form Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes sprinter Bostock finished in a detached 113th place. Having recovered from his hand injury, a fit again Tennant was the team’s first finisher in 15th place with de Bock 39th, Vaughan 53rd and Rose-Davies 92nd.
4th European Continental Championships
Irish riders Robert Jon McCarthy and Rory Townsend were representing their country and facing a world-class field in the European Continental Championships on a flat course based in and around Alkmaar in North Holland, notable for its cheese market.
The 172km were raced at a brutal pace averaging over 49kpm (30mph) in strong winds with one exposed 45km loop to the south of Alkmaar followed by 11 laps of a tight 11.5km kermesse-type circuit that traced part of its way through the narrow city streets of Alkmaar.
The 150-rider field was shredded by the crosswinds into half-a-dozen echelons on the opening longer loop, and when these regrouped on the kermesse circuit there were only about 60 riders that formed the lead-group which sadly did not include either McCarthy or Townsend.
The race was won by last week’s RideLondon-Surrey Classic victor, Elia Viviani of Italy, with Sam Bennett being the only Irish finisher in 6th place and Chris Lawless being the best British finisher in 13th place.
Stewart’s second place in the Slag om Norg was Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes best ever result in a UCI 1.1 level race.
Detailed results of these races can be found here:
Slag om Norg / Antwerpse Havenpijl / European Continental Championships
Written by Paul and Marina Stedman.
1-6 – Slag om Norg
7 – Freddy Guerin, directvelo.com