Chorley Grand Prix – A riders view

We chat to a rider who has finished third and fourth in the last two editions of the Chorley Grand Prix, Dexter Gardias of Canyon Esiberg

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Chorley Grand Prix – A riders view

Startlist – photo report on 2017 – and results from the three previous editions

Fourth last year in the first group sprinting for second behind a solo Ian Bibby, was Dexter Gardias of Canyon Eisberg. The year before (2016), Dexter was third, and in 2018, is looking to again do well for his team in this ever important season opener.

On the right is Dexter sprinting for 2nd in 2017 – he did the same in 2016

And here is that sprint in 2016, against Dale Appleby

Dexter will be wearing number 1 in the race on Sunday, and whilst he admits not knowing why he has been given that honour, he is quite happy to roll with it. “The most important number is the one you finish on” Dexter adds and if that was number 1, it would no doubt be a huge result for him and the team.

We then cut straight to the meat of why we were speaking to Dexter – to get a riders view of the race and who better to ask than the rider wearing number 1. “It is quite a wearing course” Dexter says of the Rivington one for the Chorley GP.

“The climb is pretty tough and you have to race it on the front foot really and yes, it suits me quite well.” When I asked if it’s the climb that does most of the damage, Dexter replied “I’d say so but you also have to be aware of all the moves in between. Everyone will be thinking about the climb, however, there are plenty of other opportunities to get away and that is what I mean by being on the front foot, you need to be in the right groups on the road and the climb will sort itself out.”

The pace on the climb says Dexter will depend somewhat on what the wind does. If it’s a headwind, that can neutralise things some what he explained, but if it’s a cross-tailwind, there could be a lot of damage early on.”

On the front foot, a lap out from the finish in Chorley 2017, and Dexter (left) is in the front group on the road

Away from the main climb, which is where I tend to be for the race and so don’t see the rest of the challenges the riders face, Dexter explained how there are a few ‘cheeky’ climbs through the towns on the run in to Chorley, ‘grippy sections, so you have to always be aware’ he says. We hope to see them on Saturday when, weather permitting, we’ll go and take a look at the course and see who else is doing their home work for a race which is only five laps.

With Chorley being the first clash of all the teams in 2018, after a start to the season where the preparation for teams has varied hugely with so little racing in Britain, Dexter explained how every team on the start list has a rider who can win the race so tactics will play a part, adding the riders are also aware there is pressure to do well because of the Tour of Britain qualification element.

But it’s one thing knowing you need to do well and quite another to do so if the form doesn’t match the ambitions. “You will soon know in the race if you have the legs for the race because you have the climb each lap, and you certainly can’t be on a bad day there and do well. It is a wearing course and you need to be feeling good and riding positively. I don’t think you can ride it conservatively and save a lot.”

Dexter explained that the team have had quite a bit of racing prior to Chorley. “Last weekend, I had off but the week before, I did Limberg which is a hilly Ardennes style race and then on the other weekends we have been in Holland, France and Belgium so we have had some good tests. I haven’t felt amazing so I am waiting for the condition to arrive and hopefully with my training and numbers going well the last few weeks, it would be nice to feel good for this one.”

2016, and again on the front foot, attacking solo into Chorley

In the race, Dexters bike will be the Canyon Ultimate, which in a review I read of it, they described it “as the Goldilocks of road bikes – not too slow and not too harsh; just smooth and functional”. It is certainly a bike that Dexter likes a lot.

“The Ultimate is lighter and I really like it. For me, it’s a bit of a weapon”. Asked if he factors in the bad crosswinds you can get on the race when choosing the size of deep section wheel he’ll use and Dexter replies, “I know some would but it’s a relatively small section with the big cross winds so I will stick to 50s.” As for gearing, Dexter is riding the usual 53/39 chain rings and 11 – 27ish so he can spin the pedals on the steepest part of the climbs adding that if you need to go to a ‘compact’, you won’t be in the front groups.

Finally, when asked about his team for the race, Dexter says “On Sunday, the team will have a good few cards to play which suits these prems because you never know what the outcome will be. It is wise to have a few options and we have that and they are all going so well. It feels like we have waited a year for this …”

It certainly does Dexter, over sevens months actually, which shows just how bad the road seasons are in Britain, not just for the UCI squads but all the big teams … That is however an article for another time LoL ….







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