This was the biggest race I have ever competed in with previous riders like Geraint Thomas, Dan Martin and Alex Dowsett racing before going on to World Tour fame. The race had 5 stages over four days.

Stage 1
The first race was on Friday evening, which was a 8.4km time trial finishing on the Tumble. I got to the HQ and rode the course a couple of hours before the start. It was hilly, with two main steep climbs and a fast descent. I did a long warm-up of around 45 minutes to make sure my legs were ready to go hard from the go. I paced my effort pretty well apart from not settling down on the descent; so when I came on to the final climb I was fighting, but I averaged 332 watts for 3 minutes. My normalised power for the whole time trial was 342 watts for 14 minutes and 30 seconds. I came 38th in the time trial, which I was very happy with.

Stage 2
The second day was a long road race of 110km with lots of climbs, finishing up Rhigos. After the 11km neutral roll out, the race got going up the first climb into Bwlch, which was quite gradual and quite short.  I started at the back of the group and moved near to the front by the end. The pace then settled down again, but we were still speeding along with the tailwind and people were hopping off the front for the sprint points and moving up for the second KOM at 45km.

I had a good position coming into the first climb where we arrived very fast. I moved up to the front on the very steep part of the climb to get a good positioning for the feed station, where I hopped off the front to get a bottle. As I did this I saw four people go up the road so I bridged up to the lead group that were around 30 seconds ahead. We working very well together on the descent and on the fast roads and I stayed with them for 25km then decided to sit up as the pace was too high to sustain it all the way to the finish. At this point we had around 2 minutes on the bunch and 35 seconds on a chase group of 14.

I got in the chase group and worked well. It was a lot easier having so many more people to rest behind in the chain gang. Up the third KOM we had a strong headwind up the 15 minute climb which we average 260w. At the top of the climb there was a second feed (due to the 28 degree heat).  At this point I was practically out of drink, but my mum and dad didn’t know about this second feed, so I had no drink for the final 35km.

The group was staring to struggle to cooperate at points even though we had a 3 minute lead on the peloton and were just a minute behind the leaders. I had a gel with 30km to go as I was starting to bonk. On the fourth KOM everyone was struggling as it just went to a single pace line. We got into the last 10k which meant we got on to a dual carriageway and unknown to me there was 4km climb into a headwind then a kilometre of flat then a further 5.8km climb. I got dropped halfway up the dual carriageway climb then later got caught at the bottom of the final climb by the whole peloton. I was completely out of gels and drinks and I was really thinking I might not make it to the end after being in the winning break then the chase group. I finished ten minutes down on the stage winner so that ruined my GC position.

Stage 3
This stage was a 35km criterium around Pembrey Circuit. It was an easy race as I just sat at the back of the bunch, because it was too sketchy; having 100 riders on such a narrow track. I finished 60th on the stage; finishing mid bunch and getting round as easy as possible.

Stage 4
After the morning crit we would have another flattish road race with two steep climbs that we would do before the final finishing circuit, which we would do three times. The stage was 96km and we average 43.5kph, which was very fast, considering the race started at just 30kph for about 10 minutes

The only two steep climbs weren’t very hard, but the relentless attacking over the top of climbs was hard. Even more so when your trying to swallow a cereal bar chasing someone. The race had lots of attacking throughout the day. A break went up the road and stayed away and the race finished in another sprint. Which I again came in 60th in the main bunch.

Stage 5
The queen stage of the race was going to be very tough with two hard climbs, finishing up the Tumble, which is 4.3k

The next climb came after lots of counter attacking, again 300 watts for 9 minutes. At the top was the only feed, where I got a bottle just to be safe with having two 750ml bottles. We had a fast descent before the dual carriageway, which we hit 85kph into a corner with everyone shouting ‘slow’, even though you could carry most of your speed. On the next corner no one shouted to slow down and this was the one we needed to slow down. I almost clipped the kerb on the exit.

On the dual carriageway back to Abergavenny we had a tail wind, so the pace ramped up and went into a single file. With big names attacking constantly, this was one of the hardest moment’s of the race.  As we got closer to the final climb people went off the front as the 1st and 2nd on GC were marking each other. I started too far back on the final climb, getting pushed to the back. I weaved my way forwards and got to the back of the group of the best riders where the pace was really hard, but I got distanced by about 30 meters. I kept this distance, but never got back on. As we left the wooded section, we hit a headwind and being by myself I struggled and lost a minute on the group I started in.  I finished 38th in stage and 58th on GC (after my awful second day).

After this year’s experience, I hope I can improve on these things for next year for a good GC position. Thanks to my mum and dad for taking me down and looking after me in the race very well.