Report: Ronde Des Vallées

Report on the Zappi Junior Racing team in the 30th Edition of the prestigious Ronde Des Vallées UCI 2.1 Junior Stage Race

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Report: Ronde Des Vallées

A video link summarising stage 1 is here >>>  | Photos “Gus Sev Photography”

After our successful weekend in Liege the week before, the ZAPPI Junior Racing team travelled onwards to Brittany, France, to participate in the 30th Edition of the prestigious Ronde Des Vallées UCI 2.1 Junior Stage Race.

The Zappi team assembled six riders for the race including Mark Donovan, overall winner of the Aubel-Thimister-Stavelot, Ben Healy, overall winner of the Bizkaiko Itzulia, Jake Wright, Lewis Hartley, Harry Gillet and special guest Jacob Vaughan, former national junior road race champion and winner of this year’s Guido Reybrouck Classic.

The race included an opening road stage on Saturday afternoon followed by an early morning ITT on Sunday morning and an extremely tough road stage to complete the event on Sunday afternoon, covering a total distance of approximately 210km. The final stage featured the Mur De Bretagne climb, used on several occasions at the Tour De France and with a current Strava record set by Adam Yates in the 2015 edition!

On stage 1 (St Barnabe – St Barnabe) the weather was far from ideal with heavy showers and a stiff wind throughout. Mark Donovan was off the front almost all day. The break which Mark initiated included five riders but this was eventually reeled in as the riders approached the finishing circuit.

Ben Healy then took his opportunity to attack and was later joined by Mark and they managed to forge ahead with a couple of other riders and gain around 40seconds on the peloton, with Mark finishing in 2nd place and Ben 4th. Jacob rode well in the bunch gallop to take 9th which then secured top place in the team classification. Lewis and Jake both finished in the peloton. Harry was struggling with the wet descents but he worked hard to get round the stage so he could start the next day.

Stage 2 was the 11.3km individual time trial that set off from Saint Caradec and finished in Hemonstoir. The circuit included a tough climb at the start and included roundabouts, tricky descents and lots of corners so not your typical UK dual carriageway TT. Jake Wright set an early benchmark of 15:41 with Lewis and Jacob around 50seconds further back. Harry lost a couple of minutes on the TT but he was riding a conventional road bike so was not expected to be as fast.

We had heard from the commentator that the fastest time was a sub 15min before Mark and Ben had ridden and so the pressure was building. Ben rode first and finished with an impressive time of 15:17 (20seconds off the eventual winner) following by Mark who rode home just 2 seconds slower than Ben, taking 6th and 7th on the stage respectively.

This also placed Ben and Mark 2nd and 3rd on GC going into the final stage on Sunday afternoon.

So, we arrived for stage 3 (Hemonstoir-Hemonstoir) and also the Queen stage with Ben wearing the white jersey as he was leading the young rider classification, sitting in 2nd place on GC with Mark Donovan placed 3rd on GC. We were also leading the team classification by around 30 seconds.

The weather was better than Saturday with lots of sun and the temperature in the mid-twenties so plenty of bottles and feeding expected. The final stage was relentlessly up or down and included a 74km large loop that passed over the Mur De Bretagne after 25km. At the end of the large loop the riders then completed 5 laps of a 4km finishing circuit that encircled the village of Hemonstoir.

At the mid-point of the race a group of 3 riders attached and gained over two minutes at one point with one of these riders really challenging for the overall. The gap was reduced down to less than 1 minute as the group entered the finishing circuits. Both Ben and Mark tried to bridge and limit their losses but to no avail as a gap of over 40 seconds was maintained to the finish. The overall winner of the race was a Belgium rider named Minne Verboom who leap frogged the highest place GC riders to take the yellow jersey. Ultimately Ben finished 4th on GC (and also the took the White Jersey) and Mark 5th on GC which are still fantastic results. Both Jacob and Lewis finished strong on the final stage taking 7th and 16th respectively.

Unfortunately, we again lost the team classification on the final stage by only 14 seconds to the Wilton Cycling Team (Belgium) but having claimed the White Jersey and also having two riders finish in the top 10 on GC, we had a very happy team and very happy manager for a second consecutive weekend!

This again illustrates the strength in depth in the ZAPPI team and in the UK peloton.

Results Summary…

Stage 1:
2 Mark Donovan
4 Ben Healy
9 Jacob Vaughan
50 Jake Wright
70 Lewis Hartley
161 Harry Gillet

Stage 2 TTT:
6 Ben Healy
7 Mark Donovan
22 Jake Wright
88 Lewis Hartley
89 Jacob Vaughan
134 Harry Gillet

Stage 3:
7 Jacob Vaughan
16 Lewis Hartley
25 Mark Donovan
34 Jake Wright
61 Ben Healy
97 Harry Gillet

4 Ben Healy (Best Young Rider)
5 Mark Donovan
21 Jake Wright
53 Jacob Vaughan
59 Lewis Hartley
122 Harry Gillet





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