Feature – 2015 Road Season Review – March


The road season was in full swing in Europe and Britain with big wins for Mark Cavendish and Geraint Thomas in Europe whilst the British pros were starting to fire on all cylinders

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Feature – 2015 Road Season Review – March

The month got off to a great start with Cavendish sprinting to victory in Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne. He sprinted in ahead of a rider who was to win a lot during the season (20), Alexander Kristoff and Elia Viviani who moved up a level in the sprinters category to sit alongside the likes of Cav and Greipel as Kittel stalled.

In a race who’s profile keeps getting bigger, Strade Bianche in Italy, cyclo-cross star turned top roadman, Zdenek Stybar won from Van Avermaet and Valverde. The first of the classic stage races, Paris-Nice took place and Richie Porte clinched victory ahead of Talansky.

Paris Nice also saw Bouhanni getting his hands up ahead of Petacchi and Viviani on stage 1 whilst a sprinter missing in action a lot of the season, Marcel Kittel won stage 2 ahead of Viviani.

The other big stage race of the month, Tirreno-Adriatico saw Nario Quintana winning the overall with Britain’s Stephen Cummings 6th on GC and Adam Yates 9th overall. Nibali was 16th.

Other winners in the event included Fabian Cancellera (stage 7), Peter Sagan on a grippy stage 6, Quintana in the snow on stage 5 ahead of Contador in 5th,, Wout Poels on stage 4, Greg Van Avermaet on stage 3 pushing Peter Sagan into second, Jens Debusschere on stage 2 where Sagan was second again and of note to British riders, Zak Dempster was 9th and Sam Bennett 3rd. On stage 1, Malori took the scalp of Cancellera in second with Cummings 8th.

Over in Holland in Ronde van Drenthe, Scott Thwaites was in great form with 5th place and backed that up with another 5th in Dwars door Drenthe. Better was to come for Scott in Nokere Koerse where he was 3rd.

In the first Monument of 2015, Milan San Remo, John Degenkolb took the win ahead of Alexander Kristoff and Aussie Michael Matthews with Peter Sagan 4th. Ben Swift was the best of the Brits in 13th.

There were still plenty of stage races for the Grand Tour riders and in Volta a Catalunya, Richie Porte continued his great form with overall victory ahead of Valverde who had three stage wins whilst Contador was 4th and Aru 6th.

In the Coppi e Bartali stage race, Louis Meintjes netted a big win for MTN Qhubeka just ahead of Ben Swift in second overall. Consolation for Swifty was a victory on stage 2 and several other top 10s.

Swifty’s teammate, Geraint Thomas meanwhile was continuing to get his hands in the air with a win in the E3 Harelbeke with an impressive solo break. The Welsh rider left behind the likes of Stybar, Trentin and Kristoff whilst a familiar name in Britain, Jack Bauer was 8th. The bad news for fans was the crash that took out the legendary Fabian Cancellera and his Spring Classics season was over.

In France, Jean-Christophe Peraud won the Criterium International stage race. In the Belgium Classic Gent-Wevelgem, Alexander Kristoff continued his winning ways after Milan San Remo to win one of Belgium’s biggest classics of all time ahead of Nikki Terstra and Britain’s Geraint Thomas. Sagan was 10th and Scott Thwaites 17th.

In the Three days of De Panne, there was a familiar name for British fans making headlines, Bradley Wiggins. The Olympic champion won the time trial beating world pursuit champion Stefan Kung but Kristoff struck again with 3rd in that TT.

Kristoff was on fire and to add to the overall victory, he won stage 1 and another on stage 2 ahead of Vivani. Just to round things off nicely, there was another win on stage 3a ahead of Greipel! Bradley Wiggins showed the World what they were going to miss when he retired from the road with 3rd overall.

The British road season gets started
Whilst the European season dominated the headline in most magazines, online or otherwise, there was plenty going on in Britain where the sport is still very much a weekend based pursuit despite a lot of the riders being well paid full time professionals.

George Harper of One Pro Cycling kicked the month off by winning the classic Severn Bridge Road Race ahead of teammate Yanto Barker with Irish youngster Eddie Dunbar (NFTO) third. Will Bjergfelt (SportGrub Kouta) was fourth and Marcin Bialoblocki (One Pro Cycling) in fifth. NFTO were 6th (Rob Partridge) and 7th (Rhys Lloyd) whilst youngster Rory Townsend (Pedal Heaven) continued his good form with 8th.


There was another victory for One Pro Cycling in the North West classic, the Eddie Soens Memorial at the Aintree circuit. The handicap race saw yet again the top pros catch the early leaders set off before them in this handicap event.

In a great solo effort, a rider who was to win two jerseys in the Aviva Tour of Britain later on that year, Pete Williams finished just ahead of teammate Sam Williams (no relation). Raleigh GAC rider Ian ‘superman’ Wilkinson was third with Tom Moses fourth and Morgan Kneisky (Raleigh GAC) in fifth.

The next British classic, the Jock Wadley, followed the next day and saw NFTO debut their star rider in Aussie Steele von Hoff and he didn’t disappoint beating One Pro Cycling’s Yanto Barker into second with that youngster Rory Townsend (Pedal Heaven) in third.

More and more teams were coming out now and after Marcin Bialoblocki (One Pro Cycling) in 4th, Richard Handley was 5th just ahead of the ever consistent Will Bjergfelt (SportGrub Kuota).


In another long running race, the Roy Thame Memorial, Tom Neale of Catford CC Equipe/Banks won that ahead of Will Fox (Pedal Heaven) and Rhys Howells. The 44th running of the Peter Young Memorial early season classic saw Rory Townsend of Pedal Heaven get his victory when he beat teammate Dave Creggan and William Goulbourne.

Up North, Graham Briggs returned home from Australia to take a win in the Danum Trophy Road Race on home roads ahead of Ben Hetherington with Briggs teammate Joe Moses in 3rd. Harry Tanfield was 4th. In Wales, Richard Handley won the Angela Davies Road Race from Stevie Williams of Pedal Heaven and Handley’s teammate Mike Cuming.

That race saw the appearance of Madison Genesis as well and Tom Scully was in fourth, Rhys Loyd (NFTO) 5th, Mike Northey (Madison Genesis) 6th and Matt Cronsaw, also of Madison Genesis in 7th. In eighth was a name that was to reappear in time trials later on, Ryan Perry (SportGrub Kuota).

The Betty Pharoah Memorial, another of the long running races that precede the National A Star Trophy races to come, saw Marcin Bialobloicki (One Pro Cycling) get the better of Sam Harrison (NFTO) and George Atkins (One Pro Cycling) whilst Eddie Dunar (NFTO) was 4th.

Over on Merseyside in the Duncan Sparrow Road Race, Tom Barras (NFTO) beat Matt Cronshaw (Madison Genesis), Dillion Byrne and David McGowan (Pedal Heaven).


NFTO’s Steele Von Hoff wins the Jock Wadley Memorial

So far the season had yet to see all the pro teams clash in the one race and that wasn’t to happen until April and the Chorley Grand Prix but in the early ‘classics’, races that continue to be held every year around the same time and give everyone a good test, more and more of the pro teams were testing their squads.

In the Wally Gimber Memorial, one of the highest profile events early season, Poland’s Karol Domagalski, a new signing for Raleigh GAC in 2015, beat his teammate Steve Lampier to give them a 1-2. Third was Jamie Caldwell whilst Tobyn Horton of Madison Genesis was 4th and George Wood 5th.

In one of the month’s final major events, the Totnes-Vire Stage Race, many of the pro teams shivered their way through the South West event in the wind and rain. After three stages, the victory went to Steve Lampier of Raleigh GAC who beat a rider who was one of the most consistent all year, Jon Mould of One Pro Cycling.

His teammate Chris Opie was third overall ahead of another One Pro Cycling rider, Yanto Barker. Edmund Bradbury of NFTO was fifth. Stage winners were Jon Mould, Chris Opie and Steve Lampier (below).


A long way north in the Capernwray Road Race, Ian Bibby of NFTO was showing some great form when he beat James Gullen and Peter Williams (One Pro Cycling). Fourth was Matt Cronshaw (Madison Genesis) with George Atkins (One Pro Cycling) 5th and Stuart Reid (Wheelbase Altura) in sixth.

The month also saw the Junior Road Race Series (called the Peter Buckley after the trophy given to the series winner) and that was won by Ethan Hayter of the historic London club VC Londres. Second was Joe Holt, third Robert Hogg, fourth Joseph Fry (RST Racing Team) and in fifth, Robert Scott.

The final mention is for an event not in Britain but one where I’ve heard the organisers get requests from upwards of 70 UCI teams to get a ride. The Tour of Normandy.

This year, three British teams got a ride and on GC, it was Alex Peters racing for a foreign team that was best placed in second overall with Owain Doull in 10th. Tom Stewart (Madison Genesis) 14th , Andy Tennant 17th and Mark Christian 18th.

During the race, there were several top 10s. On Stage 1, Owain Doull was 7th and on stage 2, Alex Peters second and Andy Tennnant 8th. Owain Doull was 3rd on stage 4 and on stage 5, Alex Peters was second again. On the final stage, Owain Doull was 8th.

Next up, April and the major British road races get under ….



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