Assen: Great start for Dougal Toms

A great start to a week of racing for Dougal Toms at the European Junior Tour at Assen in the Netherlands

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Assen: Great start for Dougal Toms

What great start to a week of racing for Dougal Toms at the European Junior Tour at Assen in the Netherlands. This stage race incorporates a series of Time trials, Criterium and Road Races with a field of 83 riders from across Europe.

The Prologue
A 1.7 km flat course with a 500m cobbled section through woodland. Toms said of his ride in it “It was pretty technical for a time trial with a few corners and the obvious cobbled area. The only advantage was it was fairly sheltered from the wind as the course passed through a wood. I had to slow down considerably for a 90 degree corner onto the cobbles and stayed on the drops for the whole section. Mainly to keep control of the bike. Once clear of the cobbles it was full gas to the end” Toms finished 11th on the first day just 6 seconds off the leader, Rick Pluimers who took the Yellow Jersey with a time of 2:25.59

Day 2 Criterium

The circuit was 30 laps of a 1.8 km flat course with a few tight corners. It was fairly sheltered by trees and most of the road surface was good with a few sections where caution is required with cobbled drain run offs. The conditions were near perfect being an overcast day between 22-25degrees C and occasional sunshine.

The riders were placed in grids based on their numbers. Toms found himself at the back of his grid and knew he needed to move up. Once released from the grids the riders were neutralised to the start line about 100m away. Toms took this opportunity to find a better position near the front.

The race started and it was a fast pace which strung the riders out immediately. The speed didn’t relent throughout the entire race and there were constant attacks each break of no more than 10secs which soon came back to the bunch.

On one corner Toms was forced wide and found himself trapped and slipping in a cobbled drain section. He unclipped and managed to save himself from a “get down” but wore out a cleat in the process. Riding assertively, he got back on track and continued to ride in the top twenty riders.

Toms said, “I knew if I wasn’t at the front it was so easy to be dropped near the back”.
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About half way through the race a break of two riders (which included fellow Brit Josh Copley of Catford/Banks) stuck at about 15sec for 30 mins. But with 10 laps to go they were brought back into the peloton.

Into the last lap and it was all together until the Yellow Jersey (Rick Pluimers) decided to attack. “I looked around and no one was chasing him down. I wouldn’t normally want to do the work at this stage and save myself for the sprint, but I couldn’t let him get a gap as I was already 6 seconds down on GC”

Toms surged off the front of the peloton and chased the leader with 700m to the finish. Once he caught him, Toms looked around to find no one had come with him and with space between him and the chasing pack he continued to put in a huge effort to the finish line winning comfortably by 2 sec.

Toms gained two seconds and a 10 second winning bonus which makes him joint race leader on GC with Kockelmann, Raphaël CC Differdange 1:16:14. Toms explained “I am so happy to get the win. There are a lot of good riders here and it is going to be difficult to get a break and a big-time gap. I know it is important for me to stay focused and take opportunities where I can. Today it worked out well.”

“We have a Road race, TT and Crit to come and only 11 secs separate the top ten on GC. Anything could happen”



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