Sunday saw Team Rwanda-Dassi take on the cream of UK cycling in Wales
The Grand Prix of Wales is a high profile fixture in the elite British Cycling Motorpoint Grand Prix Series and the last places at the UCI Tour of Britain were also being decided so there was all to play for! This was demonstrated by big squads present from UCI Continental and other Pro teams like Wiggins, Pedal Heaven, JLT Condor, NFTO, Raleigh GAC, Madison Genesis Neon-Velo, Envelopemaster Giant, Team iTap and more!
Team Rwanda-Dassi had been training well all weeks and the new bikes and components have now bedded in well. We had secured the services of the amazing Peter Merridew (ex Team GB cyclist) who now runs the most comprehensively-stocked mobile mechanic Sprinter van we have ever seen. If you ever need a mobile race mechanic, check them out at Plan2Ride.
The field was 150+ in strength and atmosphere was charged around the pits and start/finish area.
Our four young riders on the podium for sign-on. Great reaction from the crowd!
The race set off at 11am and the pace was quick from the start. Within only 5-10kms, from the team car we were seeing riders getting dropped as the race entered the hills. At around 35kms, we had passed around 20-25 riders with a lead group pulling away to around a 2 min gap.
But: catastrophe! Somehow a car had got into the race bubble and several riders ploughed into the front of it around a downhilll bend. The seconds feel like hours for all teams when race radio informs you of circumstances like this and asks for mechanics from all teams to attend and the ambulance. The race was stopped for over 20 minutes as it was sorted out. Luckily no major injuries in the end and only one of our riders involved who instinctively avoided the crash and put himself into a leafy Welsh hedge for safety!
This allowed the group to reform and set off with the appropriate time gaps in place. The attacks began almost immediately and those dropped, whose respite had been brief, were swiftly finding themselves off the back again. No Rwandans in sight as we passed over 25 riders...
Then...chaos and cheering in the Team Rwanda-Dassi team car as race radio announces a chasing break away attack is launched by four riders including #113, Team Rwanda-Dassi's Jean Claude Uwizeye! With the quality of the entrants, the aim for this race was to stay in the peloton as long as possible and now Team Rwanda-Dassi is launching attacks! Amazing stuff! We had Olivier and Paolo from Rouleur magazine in the back of the car and all were caught up in the magic of this moment. Wonderful to experience!
The attack pulled out a minute and a half on the peloton and got to within 30 seconds of the small lead group but the pace of the race took its toll and they were reeled in by the strong peloton. HOWEVER, who should be towards the front of the peloton but our man Joseph Areruya!
Jean Claude's group gets caught but Joseph then goes!
As Jean Claude's group tired, Joseph overtakes with a group from several major teams who then headed down from the Brecon hills around Grosmont into the 10 x 10km laps of Abergavenny town and surrounding countryside. Joseph continued to hold his own for first 4-5 of these and then the relentless chasing pace took its toll and he dropped off the pack. The race was eventually won by Tom Stewart and Erick Rowsell of the Madison Genesis team. Joseph finished in an incredible 46th place amongst some elite UK riders. Jean Claude in 60th with Bosco in 73rd and Samuel in 75th.
For all four of our riders to be placed in the top half of a race like this is testament to the dedication of our riders and importantly our coaching staff. The UK tour is about educating these riders as to the quality of pro/elite cycling and where they need to aim for. We are very happy with the performance so far and are seeking further improvements as the races keep coming!
Next Race: Sheffield Grand Prix, Wednesday 20th July.
Don't forget, you can buy an exclusive Milltag designed Team Rwanda UK tour race cap for just $20 with all proceeds going to the team! CLICK HERE TO BUY!
(Thanks to PedalHeaven's @HughMcManus for the photos!)