Jake Womersley is hoping BIKE Channel Canyon can steer clear of danger as they target a big result in the Rutland-Melton International CiCLE Classic on Sunday (11am).
The 21-year-old knows only too well how bad luck can scupper your chances in the unique race, which features narrow sections of treacherous farm tracks.
He made his debut in the UCI 1.2 contest as a first-year senior in 2014 but saw his hopes of a top-20 finish scuppered by a mechanical.
The former British junior cyclocross rider, who was 36th in the junior Tour of Flanders in 2013, admits there is little you can do to avoid such misfortune and acknowledges a certain amount is inevitable.
However, he reckons his team have the strength in depth to produce a big performance, regardless of what the 13th renewal of the race has to throw at them. Womersley said:
“For me and for most British riders, Rutland is special. We don’t get many opportunities to do a Paris-Roubaix-type of race with all these different sectors.
“We get foreign teams come over for it, too, so that changes the style of the racing again. It is an exciting race for all those reasons.
“My cyclocross background should definitely help. Bike handling is pretty important in this race but there is only so much that is within your control.
“In a race like this, you can’t really help bad luck. Punctures and mechanicals can happen to anyone, which is a bit of a shame because, however well you are going, you can’t control it.
“I did it as a first-year senior. I was going well and on for a good result, maybe a top 20, until I had a mechanical.
“At least I know I can go well in this race, though. I know I’m in good shape at the minute. We have a strong squad, too. We have someone who can do everything.
“We have guys who can win the sprint, guys for the breakaway and guys who can win from small groups, so fingers crossed we don’t have too much trouble.”
Rutland-Melton is often tagged as Britain’s answer to the Belgian Classics. But unlike those springtime battles on the continent, Womersley says riders won’t be making too many changes to their set-up.
In fact, slightly wider tyres and a pair of gloves will just about do it for the Yorkshireman as he prepares for the 189km tear-up. Womersley added:
“My bike set-up will be much the same. We will run wider tyres but the forecast is quite good, so we won’t have to go too low on the pressures.
“I won’t change much else. There will be no need for extra bar tape, I might just wear some gloves! I don’t usually wear mitts, so that will be all the extra padding I need.
“It’s not like you’re riding 30km of cobbles. Your bottles stay in your cages and your chain normally stays on, so as long as you take the right lines, you should be okay.
“On Thursday I had an easy ride with a few other lads who are doing it and we came back along the Calder canal.
“We did a few little gravel sectors and off-road sectors, which were quite fun. But other than that, we don’t train any differently for it.
“After all, you are still turning the pedals. You just have to be a little more careful to avoid any problems. I just want to get racing it now!“ ”
Click on the following links to look at BIKE Channel Canyon’s Rutland-Melton squad and read Rory Townsend’s take on the race.
You can follow the action live via the official race Twitter, with regular updates on the BIKE Channel Canyon account.