Tour of Normandie – Richard Hepworth


Richard Hepworth of Raleigh GAC looks back at the Tour of Normandie which he says was pretty hard and windy.

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Tour of Normandie – Richard Hepworth


It was Richard’s first major race in the Team colours and as he was racing in France, says that people remember the Raleigh colours on the continent. “It does make you feel special having that heritage behind you”.

Asked what the hardest stage was, Richard replied “the first hour of stage 4. It was windy and really really hard. I nearly cracked, but dug deep and eventually a small break got clear and it eased off slightly. Phew”.

Talking about the daily routine, Richard says “Firstly, the organisation from Raleigh GAC and Chez (team boss) was fantastic. We’d wake up around 8 and go to breakfast. Generally cereals, toast etc and then plain pasta and hard boiled eggs….! Around 9.30, we would leave to drive to the days stage start which could be up to an hour away. Once at the race, the camp was set up where the Raleigh Militis bikes were always ready and perfect”.

“We finalised our race kit in the vans and the stages started around 12. After the stage, my bike vanished (team mechanic Alan being very efficient as usual), and we’d get into a van and drive to the next hotel. Once there, your bags were in your room, rotas stuck to the hotel wall to show your massage time. Evening meal and then the team talk about the next days stage. Repeat 6 more times! There was no stress, no panic, always on time, everything perfect. All I had to concentrate on was the stage ahead. Perfect.



Richard says his best stage was the third one. “A break got clear after a good hour and the gap went out to 6 mins 40 from memory. The pace in the bunch eased off and I rolled up to the front eating an energy bar. I looked behind and I had a gap! I thought “just keep going because there is that crosswind section soon and it could be really hard in the bunch” so I kept going thinking they would catch me. Next minute, I have a time check of 1 minute, then 2, then 3, then 4 and they put a neutral service car in for me. So now I’m thinking maybe I could catch the break! I got pretty close but then the bunch decided they wanted me back and closed me down”.

Richard’s role in the race was to try and get in a breakaway and then help Seb (Mora) in the bunch sprints if he could. “It’s so hard to get into a break” Richard says. “The pace is through the roof and it has to be a very specific number of riders that get clear. Each day I had a good go with four or five big attempts but nothing came of it.

Richard added “Stage 1 was really easy. Very steady and controlled. I thought “Eyup lad, this pro racing isn’t too bad” but then the rest of the days were flat out! I was surprised how hard these lads can go, they can really shift”.

Getting through stages as long as 200 kilometres requires some refueling whilst racing and Richard explains how they used the High 5 products. “We’d start with two bottles, one water, one with High5 powder mixed with water. We’d also have two caffeine gels and a couple of High 5 bars. At the feed I would get the same again roughly. I was making sure I ate plenty. I generally finished the stage on gels so I had the energy at the end when it was really fast.

We asked how does a race like Normandie compare to the races he has done in Britain to which Richard replied “Harder. Normandie was my first race of the season though so you could argue I’m a little off the pace because I haven’t raced yet. The length of the event gets you though as it’s a week for gods sake! In the UK, it’s all single day stuff. You obviously finish a Premier on your knees completely empty but this wasn’t far off times six!

Asked if there was anything that he learned that stood out and he says “Position stands out for me. Strength wasn’t the problem, it was riding for position. The race was like a huge washing machine and within two minutes you were near the back again! And if you left a small gap, say half a wheel, four riders were trying to get into it!”

“Those windy conditions don’t suit me and I was nervous when Chez selected me. So getting through in decent shape – it hasn’t killed me anyway – shows I have prepared well over the winter and I’m fit. All positive for the year ahead.”

His recovery was spent at work saying “I’ve been away for a month so been at work every day to catch up and get some funds back in!”

Richard’s next race is the Manx international – “oh no, that will be hard!”




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