Fensham Howes MAS Design Junior Team headed to Belgium last weekend to take part in Junior Kuurne-Brussels-Kurrne - support race to the professionals who raced on the same course that day. 116km of typical Flemish roads, hills and cobbles as well as the bitterly cold north-easterly wind made for a tough day out. . Look at the results of this race for an indication of riders who will be the classic specialists of the future.
The names of British riders Geraint Thomas, Adam Blythe, James Shaw and Ethan Hayter jump out as previous winners of this race.
Team Manager Giles Pidcock sent us this report ..
"Arrived in Kuurne late for this years Junior KBK. Not actually late but later than usual because it was cold, very cold. The sun was out but so was a biting northerly wind so we wanted to keep the riders as warm as possible for as long as possible.
The race started and there was the usual mayhem in the first 20km. There’s always crashes early doors as 150 excited, testosterone fueled juniors charge out of town and towards the Flemish bergs and cobbled roads that makes up this classic. Having ridden here last year our boys knew to ride near the front and emerged this initial period safe and sound. Alex Beldon had a puncture but a bike change got him back in quickly enough.
Into the hills and 17 riders went up the road. The group was stacked with favorites and none of us was in it. A miserable silence draped the team car following behind. The gap went out to over 2 minutes. The silence got louder (Why did we even come here?).
Bowling round the Belgian countryside the race was really on, shedding riders constantly out of the back as most struggled with the gradients (steep) the road surface (often bumpy) and the wind (always strong and usually from the side). We made our way forward past group after group of riders doing their best to get back into the race, sheltering off each other, all riding hard. We got to group two on the road and found four of our boys driving along a bunch of about 20. We had no idea they were this far forward. Race radio was only in Flemish this time so maybe it was our fault. We checked they were ok for bottles and gels and then went forward again, looking for our remaining two. We found them in the front group of about 15 strong. There was one lad off the front doing an amazing ride on his way to winning but we had two in there going for second. Turns out they’d bridged the 2 minute gap on their own to get here. Impressive. Jed Smithson sprinted to 5th place.
All of them were strong today. They have developed so much since last year. In these junior teams we see them arrive as boys and leave as men and this race yesterday was a perfect example of this transition in process. All bodes well.
There remains much for them to learn but each race we go to they learn a little more of what it will take to make a career as a bike rider.
Thanks to the Rayner Foundation for assistance with the funding of these trips."