The team return from the 57thedition of the Tour du Loir et Cher where the team’s goal was to develop its performance and looked to finish the race with a high position in the general classification, along with enjoying the race as it rolls over the undulating terrain of the Loire Valley.
The race started with positive results as Conor Dunne took the KoM jersey on stage one and Chris Lawless only narrowly missing out on a stage win.
Team morale remained high leading into a second stage of narrow lanes, exposed landscapes and thundering rain where, team captain, Russ Downing found himself sprinting for the line and crossing it several bike lengths ahead of the chasing pack.
Speaking after his first win in two years, Downing added – “I must have gapped them and managed to win by a few lengths…Pretty chuffed to be back wining again it’s been a while. Life in the old dog yet”
Stage 3 saw Conor Dunne form part of a breakaway, easing the pressure on the team’s sprinters and saw him go on to retake the KoM before the sprint for line on the finish circuit. Both Downing and Lawless found themselves moving up the GC table to 2nd and 3rdoverall following the sprint.
“As a result in the finale I ran of legs a bit. But I’m happy with the way I’m riding and it’s great it’s contributing to the teams on going success.” Explained Dunne.
The team looked to stage 4 to reduce their time deficit. However, a two-man breakaway stayed away and crossed the line 20 seconds ahead of the chasing group which was left to sprint for 3rd place.
Speaking after stage 4, Team manager, John Herety added – “It wasn’t the result we hoped for and there are a few things we need to work on, however, going into the final stage I’m pleased with the overall performance that the team has shown and the position we are in. We started the tour looking to put in a solid performance and that is exactly what we’ve done.”
After dropping to +0:18secs on GC and sat in 6thposition, the team’s goals were reassessed and switched to focusing on the points classification and to take the green jersey on the final stage. Downing was sat in 2nd place trailing Marco Zanotti (Parkhotel Valkenburg CT) by 3pts at the beginning of the final stage.
Downing was able to take the first intermediate sprint giving him valuable points but was unable to take the second, which saw Zanotti increase his lead.
Wanting to improve on the mistakes made on Stage 4, the team pulled together and worked well to form a strong lead out for Downing who was looking to take the stage win which would give him the green jersey.
Setting the pace at the front and controlling the race, Downing was well positions by the team but being short some team mates meant he had to make his sprint early and saw him settle for 3rd on the stage. Although ahead of Zanotti, it wasn’t enough for him to take the green jersey off the Italians back.
“The team led me out perfectly and we communicated really well throughout the final lap. Towards the line I felt strong but with the team being a man short I had to start sprinting early and just wasn’t able to hold on…I would have liked to take the green jersey home and it’s disappointing to lose by 1 point, but I’m happy with my performance as well as that of the team, we worked well together and we finished well placed on both GC and points.” Commented Team Captain, Russ Downing.
“Races like the Tour du Loir et Cher provide the ideal opportunity for our younger riders to develop their skill and teamwork. With much of the team having struggled with illness recently, the aim at the beginning of the tour was to enjoy it and put in a strong performance ahead of some big races coming up” explained Team Manager, John Herety.
“There was some disappointments with abandonments and there are some team dynamics that we have to work on improving but overall the performance of the team has been very positive and they remained competitive throughout the race. All the riders did their part in helping with the team’s success in all the classifications and there are a lot of positives to take away from this last week leading into the important Tour de Yorkshire.
Tour de Yorkshire Startsin a weeks time from the 29th April – 1st May and you can Watch highlights on Eurosport TV from the Motorpoint Spring Cup Series: 23 April – Tour of the Reservoir, Eurosport 2 – 8:00am
(Images by Angus Sung)