Report – Tour of Sussex 2014


Jamie Lowden wins a testing Tour of Sussex 2014 (4-7 July) with a dominant final stage ride in the wind and rain on Beachy Head.

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Report – Tour of Sussex 2014

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Report – Tour of Sussex 2014 by John Powell

As the organiser of the Tour of Sussex it is always difficult trying to watch an absorb everything that is happening around you. I always try to pay particular attention to thanking everyone who make events like this happen, although this is not always easy.

I sit here the day after the event on a ferry, feeling anxious about my sea voyage across the English Channel (got meetings in France), reflecting on a brilliant weekends racing and will now attempt to put into words a review of the weekend’s events.

All stage races are spectacular, a feat of endurance, playing chess, running a marathon, playing rugby and boxing, all while steaming along at 30mph and avoiding road furniture, pot holes and any other delight the road can deliver. These athletes must ride on the flat and uphill at a effort level that makes most people wince and say ‘no thanks’. The riders who complete the event, from the yellow jersey to the last man (affectionately known as ‘Lantern Rouge) will have to endure pain, suffering and be weathered by the elements to make it t e finish line.

Stage 1 of the Tour of Sussex was a team time trial, essentially every member of the team shares work by riding flat out and given his team mates a ride in his slip stream. A well drilled team will change positions every minute or so to keep the speed high and maximise he chance of winning.

The choice of course for this stage was Ninfield, Cats field and in the Bexhill road. A reasonably hilly route of 9 miles which we expected to be completed in 20 minutes or so. The first team rolled out at 19:30 and completed the course in just over 20 minutes. By the end, the top three teams, with the yellow jersey being be to the first person from the fastest team crossing line were well under 20 minutes.

In this event Team ASL360/The Hair Boutique excelled beating Neon Velo CT into second by 30 seconds and putting Steve Kane in the first yellow jersey of the race.

Stage results –
1st place – Team ASL360/The Hair Boutique 18:28
2nd place – Neon Velo CT 18:58

General Classification (yellow jersey)
1st Steve Kane – Team ASL360/The Hair Boutique
2nd Jamie Lowden – Team ASL360/The Hair Boutique
3rd Pete Morris – Team ASL360/The Hair Boutique

Points Classification (green jersey)
1st Steve Kane – Team ASL360/The Hair Boutique
2nd Jamie Lowden – Team ASL360/The Hair Boutique
3rd Pete Morris – Team ASL360/The Hair Boutique

Stage 2 – Lewes – Laughton laps 50 miles
Having had much stress organising the start area, we finally all made it to the headquarters for the day, The John Harvey Tavern Lewes. All the riders and convoy formed up and were ready to roll. I have to say we had a great crowd in Lewes who really supported the event with a rapturous round applause to see the peloton off in style.

Today promised to be quite different as apart from the small climb out of Lewes, the course is flat with three tight corners and favoured the powerful sprinters. Racing was officially started about a mile from Lewes and immediately saw a rider make a break for freedom. Jeremy Brougham (London Dynamo) was brave and pushed on, at one point building a gap of over a minute on the peloton containing the Yellow Jersey of Steve Kane.

At about 75% race distance and with little impetus in the chasing pack it was up to Steve Kane and Team ASL360 and Neon Velo CT to catch the lone leader.

With 2 laps to go and with the break away rider absorbed, it became clear that this would come down to a sprint for the line. Let me say that from a riders eye view, a sprint finish is a terrifying high speed dash, shoulder to shoulder, bumping off other riders at speeds as high as 45mph. The riders switched left then right then left then right, vying for the best position. Sprinters try to stay in the slip stream until the least second before letting loose maximum power to gain victory.

On this occasion Alex Minting of Neon Velo CT burst from the back gaining an immediate advantage of 5 metres taking the stage and precious bonus of 30 seconds, winning him the Yellow Jersey and putting him in the lead.

Stage 2 Results
1 – Alex Minting – Neon Velo CT
2nd on stage – Philip Glowinski – VC Londres
3rd on stage – John Scripps – VC Londres

General Classification after stage 2
1st (Yellow Jersey) – Alex Minting – Neon Velo CT @ 02:33:31
2nd Jamie Lowden – Team ASL360/The Hair Boutique @ 2 seconds
3rd Steve Kane – Team ASL360/The Hair Boutique @ 2 seconds

Points (Green Jersey) after stage 2
Alex Minting 21 points
Philip Glowinski 12 points
Jamie Lowden 11 points

Stage 3 – Eastbourne Sea front – Beachy Head – Individual Time Trial
Some call this ‘The Race of Truth’, and I agree. It is just you versus the clock, no hiding, no protection from the pack, all raw power and brain. The course today was very short, from the seafront to the pub at Beachy Head using Dukes Drive, all up hill and to be completed between 8 and 10 minutes.

Each rider would start in order of general classification with a minute between them, so starting with ‘Lantern Rouge’ and finishing with Yellow jersey wearer Alex Minting (Neon Velo CT). Within the first few riders, we were starting to see short 8 minute rides, would it be beaten, surely not? After all a hard climb with a head wind?

Frankly I am amazed at the speed of these guys, the fastest 15 all under 8 minutes!

Stage 3 Results
1 Jamie Lowden – Team ASL360/The Hair Boutique 00:07:21
2nd Pete Morris – Team ASL360/The Hair Boutique 00:07:37
3rd Gaving Shuttleworth – Speg Project 51 – 00:07:39

General Classification after Stage 3
1st Yellow Jersey – Jamie Lowden – Team ASL360/The Hair Boutique 02:40:54
2nd Pete Morris – Team ASL360/The Hair Boutique @ 16 seconds
3rd Steve Kane – Team ASL360/The Hair Boutique @ 26 seconds

Points Jersey
Alex Minting – Neon Velo CT
James Lowden – Team ASL360/The Hair Boutique
Pete Morris – Team ASL360/The Hair Boutique

Stage 4 Eastbourne Seafront – Beachy Head (via 7 laps of Beachy Head – East Dean – Birling Gap)
So it seems after all the organising, I may have forgotten to order the weather! Putting signs out at 7 a.m. in the driving rain and wind, I felt sorry for the peloton! This course is notoriously brutal, with a long hard climb that steepens towards the top and a fast and furious descent into a difficult corner.

I had also added a start in the seafront, giving the riders the chance to tackle the difficult climb of Dukes Drive, right at the very beginning of the race. I knew that this would result in a large split in the race and would immediately fragment it.

Councilor David Tutt was on hand to see the peloton away on its 50 mile plus journey around the South Downs. Now the South Downs are a national park and an area of outstanding natural beauty. This is a wonderful place to race, beautiful and bleak, offering a insight into the unchanged Sussex landscape that has been home to man for thousands of years, not that this was much consulation to the poor wretched and soaked souls racing around its somewhat more modern roads.

As suspected the race started with gusto, SPEG Project 51 immediately laying down the gauntlet on Dukes Drive, resulting in some spectacular splits on the first lap of over 15 minutes! Well done to SPEG Project 51, these boys came all the way from Scotland to ride this race.

At the finish line on top of Beachy Head, it became apparent that this was going to be a fast race, almost to the point of last man standing. Several times riders came through and pulled over, only to be encouraged by the band of intrepid fans gathered in the rain.

Fortunately, especially for myself and Glyn Durrant (co-organiser from the Surrey Cycle Racing League), after a while the weather started to clear offering a spectacular view across the downs out as far as Newhaven and Peachaven. This also brought the benefit of seeing the race all the way from Birling Gap (some 3-4 miles away) and knowing when to be ready.

Unfortunately this was to be the day of our only crash, with Mark Smith (Crawley Wheelers) and Steve Kane (Team ASL360/The Hair Boutique) crashing outside the pub. Steve was lucky enough only to cut his arm and get four stitches, poor Mark was injured badly, messing his hand up and needing surgery. I would just like to say ‘get well soon’ Mark and a speedy recovery.

With two laps to go, and unusually for a final stage, the yellow jersey of Jamie Lowden was seen to move up to the front and attack the group on the hill. This was a audacious move as the yellow jersey has the most to lose from an all out attack. If you blow, you lose the jersey and the race!

Neon Velo CT, SPEG Project 51 and a smattering of other riders did their best to close the gap but miraculously Jamie kept on pulling out a lead, taking the win with style and a near two minute lead and with Andrew Boyd (Dulwich Paragon) in second closely followed by Richard Cartland (Southdowns Bikes) in third.

It gives you some idea of the brutality of the race when you realize that the last man in was a full 38 minutes behind the winner! This does not diminish in any way his ride, this was a tough stage and just to finish it, in my opinion is a great feat of athletic endurance.

Stage 4 Results
1st Jamie Lowden – Team ASL360/The Hair Boutique
2nd Andrew Boyd – Dulwich Paragon
3rd Richard Cartland – Southdowns Bikes

Final General Classification
1 Jamie Lowden – Team ASL360/The Hair Boutique
2nd Overall – Pete Morris – Team ASL360/The Hair Boutique @ 00:02:33
3rd Overall – Alex Minting – Neon Velo CT @ 00:02:44


Final Points Jersey
1st James Lowden – Team ASL360/The Hair Boutique 39 points
2nd Alex Minting – Neon Velo CT 26 points
3rd Pete Morris – Team ASL360/The Hair Boutique 18 points

Final Thoughts
Firstly well done to all the riders for making it a safe and well heeled event, I had no complaints at all. Well done to all the guys who got no mention in this report, you all did a cracking ride! Now come the thank you notes –

Mick Kilby, Mike Labram and Su Balcombe – Extraordinary timekeepers who make the world of Time Trialing run like clockwork Glyn Durrant – Surrey Cycle Racing League – For all the support, paperwork and sorting out General Classification

Phil Jemmison, Rob Fuller and Derek Harvey – Our commasaires, you made this race, safe and enjoyable and all with cools heads and great skill. Team ASL360 (plus parents and friends) – Thank you for marshalling, making tea and generally helping out

Sussex Nomads – Josh Beattie and his guys marshaled with enthusiasm and patience, the riders and organizers appreciate your assistance. Complete Marshalling – A great group of helpers who made the event professional on Sunday and without whom this race would have been cancelled. Natalie Stringer, Annalisa Powell, Jack Powell, Matthew Butt, Shaun Read, Mark Tearle, Sam Cheeseman and all the others who I may have missed (sorry my memory is stretched as it was all a whirl) – I REALLY appreciate your time and effort, without people like you tis things do not happen.

Chris Hough – Without whom the event would have had no signage and would have been cancelled
The Hair Boutique – For providing marshals and help
W.E. Clarke and Sons of Lewes – Sponsors of the Trophy and medals, great job they looked amazing
Carbon Bike Solutions – Sponsor of the Yellow Jersey – With gratitude to Darren Bancroft and his team
The John Harvey Tavern – HQ for Saturday who put up with some lycra clad cyclists all whilst producing tea, coffee and biscuits in a fantastic setting
Herstmonceux Village Hall – Great venue, we will be back
The Afton Hotel – Thanks to Fiona, Marco and their team for a endless supply of cokes, tea, coffee and hospitality on Saturday evening and Sunday and also for the great prize (two nights bed and breakfast) for the overall winner
ASL360/Continental Automotive/Ian Saward and Felix Saward for prizes and behind the scenes effort
Neon Velo CT for being the neutral service car
Councilor David Tutt for presenting the prize for overall and setting the race off
Councilor Gill Mattock for presenting prizes on Saturday evening
Mike Marchant and his wonderful team at Eastbourne Events Office
East Sussex County Council
Sussex Police
Lewes District Council
All the villages and motorists who showed great patience and support
And finally, my wife Annalisa and son Jack, who put up with this bizarre cycling obsession! The next event I will be promoting is Brighton VeloCity, fancy racing on the Tour of Britains penultimate stage finish? Check it out here –

1 James Lowden Team ASL360
2 Peter Morris Team ASL360
3 Alex Minting Neon-Velo CT
4 Hugo Robinson Neon-Velo CT
5 Andrew Boyd Dulwich Paragon CC
6 Aidan Quinn Speg Project 51
7 Phillip Belshaw Surrey League Composite
8 Richard Cartland Southdowns Bikes
9 Arthur Tye Dulwich Paragon CC
10 Pat Wright Kingston Wheelers A Team
11 James Local London Dynamo
12 Tom Yiangou Neon-Velo CT
13 John Veness Handsling Racing
14 George Jary VC de Londres
15 Marc Townsend Neon-Velo CT
16 tom Bowering VC Meudon
17 Dominic Clegg Redhill Cycling Club
18 Richard Unwin VC Meudon
19 Roger Smith Southdowns Bikes
20 Jeremy Brougham London Dynamo
21 John Cordner Eastbourne Rovers
22 Greg Wiltshire Kingston Wheelers A Team
23 Philip Glowinski VC de Londres
24 Paul Barnard Southdowns Bikes
25 Tim Granshaw Handsling Racing
26 George Stainton-Ellis Team Dassi
27 Dan Mitchell Redhill Cycling Club
28 Alexander Donaldson London Dynamo
29 Gavin Shuttleworth Speg Project 51
30 Graham Austin VC Meudon
31 Iain Brogden Eastbourne Rovers
32 cameron judson Kingston Wheelers A Team
33 Daniel Clark Surrey League Composite
34 Adam Moore Team Dassi
35 Brian Hennessey Redhill Cycling Club
36 Mark Williams Kingston Wheelers B Team
37 Samuel Evans Dulwich Paragon CC
38 Richard Whitehorn Dulwich Paragon CC
39 Russell Short London Dynamo
40 Alan Yule Surrey League Composite
41 Michael Woodland Team Dassi
42 Luke Taylor Kingston Wheelers B Team
43 Kieran Barber Redhill Cycling Club


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