Canyon Eisberg fan Marina Stedman tackles the Grand Prix Series and Tour of Britain qualification while lifting the lid on the team behind the team in her latest blog.
After the excitement of the circuit-based Tour Series, which was won by Canyon Eisberg in a nail-biting final in Salisbury at the end of May, and some UCI one-day races on the continent, the team returned to stage racing last weekend with the first race of the Grand Prix Series.
The five-part series takes place during June, July and August and begins with the two-day Tour of the Reservoir.
The Res, as it is commonly known, is followed by one-day events in Bristol on Sunday, Stockton (July 15), Leicester (August 12) before the series finishes at Ryedale on August 26.
For added excitement, the Tour of the Reservoir, Bristol and Stockton are the final three scoring races in Tour of Britain qualification. More on that later.
The Res, one of the few UK-based two-day races, began in Edmundbyers on both days and has races for both men and women.
On the first day, the women’s race covered 65.5 miles and the men’s race 78.9 miles. Extra (hilly) circuits were added on the second day, increasing the mileage to 75.7 miles and 102.7 miles respectively.
Tom Moses, of JLT Condor, clinched the men’s crown – with Canyon Eisberg’s Jack Pullar seventh. Torelli-Brother’s Sophie Wright won the women’s title.
But what of those unsung heroes of cycle racing, who keep the riders operating at the peak of their powers.
While most of the focus before and during a race is on the guys and girls in the saddle, teams of people work behind the scenes to manage, set the strategy, organise race entries, travel and accommodation, ensure both riders and their bikes are ready.
The main support team members are…
Also known as the sports director, the DS is the person who manages the team.
They are responsible for picking the riders to participate in each race, setting the strategy for the team and following in the team car during the races to communicate with riders.
They do this to update the riders on the situation in the race and set tactics, with other team members and race officials (sometimes by radio).
Other responsibilities of the DS can include finding, recruiting and hosting team sponsors, liaising with the media and recruiting and signing-up team members before the season starts.
Tim Elverson is the DS for Canyon Eisberg. Elverson, who also owns the team, is ably supported by assistant DS Simon Holt.
Often known as swannies, the soigneurs (or healer) play a key support role before, during and after each race.
The swanny organises supplies, prepares drinks and food, provides pre and post-ride massages and personal encouragement.
Swannies are also responsible for manning the feed zones during races. A feed zone is a specified location on the course of a long race where team personnel are allowed to hand out supplies such as bottles, food and gels to their riders as they pass by.
Each rider usually starts a race with two bottles but they can quickly get through their contents, especially in hot weather.
Handing out bottles (or bidons) when riders pass by at speeds of 30mph or more is tricky and requires concentration and skill – both the swanny and rider.
But if the handover is not successful, the rider may have to ride for another hour or more until the next feed zone comes around – unless he can get a bidon from the team car.
You may have heard people talking about the term ‘sticky bottle’ and wondered what it is. It’s when a rider who has gone back to get food and water from the team car during a race, holds on to the bottle for a bit longer than necessary to get a free tow.
The race commissaire, similar to a referee in football, will often ignore the tow if the bottle is held for only a few seconds.
But they may give a sanction – by way of a fine or time penalty – if a blatant advantage is gained.
Bottles, food, gels and the like are also handed out to riders in musettes. These are small, lightweight, cotton shoulder bags, designed to be easily grabbed by a moving rider.
The rider grabs the musette, places the shoulder strap over the head and one shoulder, removes the contents – sharing them out with other team members – before discarding the empty bag.
These days, race organisers are much stricter about litter than they used to be and there will usually be a litter zone at the end of the feed zone, where riders are allowed to discard empty musettes, food and gel wrappers safe in the knowledge their rubbish will be picked up.
Commissaires can give out fines or time penalties to riders who break littering rules.
In many races, riders are not allowed to take on food or drinks during the first and last specified kms of a race.
This is mainly for safety reasons, with attacks likely to take place as riders wind up the race at the start or towards the finish.
In the Res, feeding was prohibited on climbs, descents and during the first 50km (31 miles) and last 20km (12 miles) of both stages.
Again, commissaires can give out fines or time penalties for anyone breaking this rule. Canyon Eisberg’s swannies are Nic Wolfenden (Tuc), Jodie Lloyd, Lauren Tennant and Chloe Gallagher.
The team mechanic or mechanics are responsible for maintaining the team bikes before and after races.
During races, they also travel in the team car with the spare bikes, wheels and parts in case of crashes, punctures or mechanical failures.
The ‘magic spanner’ riders will hold on to is another trick they use to get a tow from the team car, for example if they have had a mechanical problem with their bike or a puncture and need a bit of help to get back to the peloton.
Canyon Eisberg’s mechanics are Lee Askew and Mark Haylett.
THE LOO QUESTION
With longer races lasting for five hours or more, and riders drinking a lot of fluids to keep themselves hydrated, you may have wondered what they do when they want a loo break!
In many cases, they are not alone. And the peloton will agree to stop by the side of the road in a discreet, quiet place where there aren’t many spectators.
If the race is being filmed, the cameras will artfully show viewers some lovely scenery or some interesting local architecture!
TOUR OF BRITAIN QUALIFICATION
Organisers Sweetspot have made four places available at the Tour of Britain for British UCI Continental teams.
At present there are seven squads, including Canyon Eisberg, at that level in the cycling pyramid.
So in order to select four, Sweetspot have introduced a qualification system, whereby teams earn the right to race.
They do this by accruing points in nine UK-based contests, including the Tour of the Reservoir, during the season.
Teams are ranked by their first rider across the line and points, from seven down to one, are awarded to each squad accordingly.
In the Tour Series, the points are handed out for the final series standings rather than individual races – so Canyon Eisberg bagged the maximum of seven.
At the Tour of the Reservoir, it is the general classification result which is decisive. Each team drops their worst round.
Canyon Eisberg are fifth going into the final qualification rounds in Bristol and Stockton. See the full table below.