Reece wood

Reece will be racing with the Zappi racing team in Europe, here are his blogs :

August

I had a bit of a rough start to August at Isle of Man national after an infection at the end of July, so got on the ferry to the island with not much expectation to be honest. We had a strong team there though so morale was quite high. The first day featured a criterium, I knew it would be a sketchy race with such a big field on a small circuit so just tried to stay safe. The second day is when it kicked off properly with a morning hill climb then a kermesse style race in the afternoon. Team mate Paul did a great ride in the hill climb coming in 4th place with not much time between him and the leader, so we decided to ride for him for the overall general classification. We spent the afternoon’s race keeping Paul out of danger. I got up there in the sprint for 4th place so morale was high amongst us all for the last day. The final day is where it all kicked off with the race going over famous Isle of Man mountain three times, so we were prepared for a hard race that was bound to switch up the general classification a bit. We worked hard to get Paul over the mountain the first and second time with the front group, resulting in the rest of us spending ourselves up for the last 20km of the race leaving Paul to finish in an impressive 3rd place. All in all a good weekend for us as a team!

The second week of August took me to Belgium for a UCI 1.2 race, Antwerpse Havenpijl. A fast, flat race, with a sprint on the boards. I took a few chances in the final laps with one break away staying for around 40km which seemed very promising but unfortunately it was caught with about 15 kilometres to go! It was bound to be a sprint at this point. I ended up going for an early sprint with 400m to go but 5 got around me on the line. I’m still pretty happy with 6th place at such a good race. Here’s a picture below of me in the sprint going for a long one!

Reece going for a long one

After a short time at home it was off to France for two races, a French national and a UCI race. Both races were set to be pretty up and down circuits but no climbs over a few minutes. With this in mind, I was looking forward to getting stuck in to them. First up was GP Bavay French national, we worked great as a team to keep me in contention for the sprint and all went well. I left the sprint a little late considering it was tailwind and finished 6th. That’s two in a row now! After a steady café ride Monday it was time for GP Des Marbriers UCI 1.2. Fortunately, our team DS had ridden it before so told us some vital information to stay as close to the front as possible, due to its narrow, twisty circuit. I attacked about 5km in to the race to the front group. It was a good move and actually stuck all the way to the finish, a couple more groups came across for the remainder of the race including team mate Paul. I ended up rolling in 15th in an uphill sprint, a bit disappointing finishing position but really happy with how the legs felt and looking forward to what’s to come. It’s my last handful of races now starting with a Belgian race at the start of September before heading to Norway. Hopefully, I’ll be able to send on my next blog some good results for the end of my season! Massive thanks to LBTF, without the support none of this would be possible.

Catch you on the next one,

Reece.

July

The first race of July for me was Otley town Centre Crit. I’m not usually one for crits myself, but I’ve always been a fan of Otley and with it being not far from me I had to do it really. It’d been almost a year since my last criterium race so I wasn’t sure what to expect from my performance but was going in to it with some decent form. As expected it was hot from the gun with a lot of moves going off the front but nothing sticking for the first half of the race. Feeling really good, I had stayed active the whole race and gone with any move I thought was promising. Eventually a proper attack formed that I got myself in to with a handful of other riders. This stayed away right up until only a few laps to go which was disappointing but with good legs I managed to get back in to the race and contend for the sprint. I then managed to place 3rd in the sprint, a result I’m happy with as it’s always nice to get on the podium.

Otley

The weekend of Otley took me to Belgium for the u23 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. A race I was looking forward to due to its parcours. The race went up some pretty special climbs, including the famous Muur. It was a tough race that whittled down quite quickly due to the multiple climbs and cobble sections. Unfortunately, a lotto rider managed to attack off the front on the last cobble section within the last 10km and managed to stay away, so we were contending for 2nd place. It was a punchy, up-hill sprint so I knew I could do well. I managed to place 6th in the sprint so 7th overall. Another top 10 for me so I was pretty content.

The last race of July for me was Stockton GP. I have ridden this race twice before so knew what to expect. The plan I had was to wait for a sprint, but with good legs I found myself in a breakaway with around 10 other riders. With it being such a promising move including plenty of strong riders I committed myself to the attack. We must’ve been away about 120km before getting caught with only about 10km to go. To say I was gutted was an understatement but that’s how racing goes sometimes. Although no result in my last race of the month I went away from the race pretty happy after doing a good ride in the break-away and having good legs to take on to the next race.

My next race will be Isle of Man national road series. It will be over the course of 3 days and feature 3 road races and a time trial. The roads of Isle of Man are tough, so I’m pretty excited to race. Thank you as always to Zappi and LBTF, without you guys it wouldn’t be possible. See you on the roads, Reece.

 

June

It’s been quite an action packed month for me. As mentioned on my previous blog it started off in Belgium for Memorial van Coningsloo. It started off well for me; I remained active and got in some good moves. However, it eventually came down to a reduced peloton sprint. All was going the right way and about 15km to go I ended up getting really bad cramp due to an inflamed sciatica nerve. I was really disappointed as I had good legs before this and the finish really suited me. I finished the race around the rear of the peloton in the end. After a very short break (one day!) at home I was back on the roads heading to France for a 4 day stage race called Ronde De L’Oise; a big race with a high level of competition with it being a UCI 2.2. It was a rocky start for me, the first two days were a bit of a write-off that I can put down to tiredness and lots of travel but things got more positive after this. By the third day I had pretty decent legs and was up for the sprint finish. It was a messy finish, ruining our chance of a team lead-out so ended up on the front too early. I set the sprint off and was in the lead with a couple of hundred metres to go but was swamped in the last fifty so placed 19th. I took the good legs in to the last day and kept my head up as the fatigue really was hitting everyone. The stage featured a climb loop with just less than 10km to go over the top so was bound to mix things up a bit! Everything stayed relatively grouped together for a sprint finish. I got a nice lead out by team mate Marcus until the final corner with a few hundred metres to go so was placed pretty decent for the sprint being on the second line going in to the final corner. I had quite a good sprint and finished 6th so was pretty happy. My best UCI .2 result after 7th in Tour Of Rhodes stage earlier on in the season. All in all a good trip with a lot to take away and some good racing in the legs!

After a weekend off racing it was time for national champs. This year I decided to do the time trial too. After a little practice at my local 10 mile TT I headed off for the TT the day before for a course recce. A fast windy course was on the cards and I was looking forward to it. I placed 12th under 23 on the day, a result I was pretty happy with considering my lack of experience in TT’s. Up next a few days later was the road race, a race I was hoping to do well in as everyone does! It was a very fast race with a relatively flat profile. I went in to the race expecting an early break as what usually happens at the national road race. I made some very promising moves, some stuck for a while but not for long enough. By two hours in I was pretty spent and not up the road so was pretty gutted. I ended the race in the main peloton.

I was really gutted after having such good legs but the nationals is always a weird one! I’m back abroad next week for the under 23 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad U23, a race I am really looking forward to and going in to with decent form! A massive thanks as always to LBTF and Team Zappi. See you out there, Reece.

 

May – Big B

May started off for me with Flèche Ardennaise. A brutal, and hilly one day race around the region of Ardennes of Belgium. The profile of this race suited me and I’ve done it in 2018 so this was always a target race for me. It took me longer than expected to get over illness I had throughout April, hindering my preparation for this race. I basically went to the race with no top end in the legs after only being able to do low intensity work on the run up, so it was safe to say the race was a bit of a write-off.

The week later, after some more riding in my legs was the GP Criquelion, a UCI 1.2 in Belgium. It was a 200km race with a savage short cobble climb that featured 6 times around the local laps. I knew this was a race that would suit me pretty well so was pretty up for it. The race went flat-out over the climb as riders tried to break away, some I was in but all was caught within the last few kilometres. It eventually came down to a sprint of a very reduced peloton of roughly 40 riders. Unfortunately I had no team mates for a lead out so was left fending for myself amongst the team lead-outs. I managed 8th after ducking around the wheels so was pretty happy considering I was solo.

Picture courtesy of Martine Verfaillie

Picture courtesy of Martine Verfaillie

Since GP Criquelion I’ve had a few weeks away from racing. It couldn’t have come at a better time really as I can now let my immune system recover since illness and get some decent training in again before my next big race.

Up next for me is Memorial Philippe Van Coningsloo (UCI 1.2) on the 9th June, followed closely Ronde de L’Oise (UCI 2.2). I’m hoping I will be going in to these with decent form and I’m really looking forward to them. Once, again, a massive thanks to LBTF and everyone involved in Holdsworth Zappi!

See you on the roads, Reece.

 

April – Highs and lows

Following on from my previous blog my next race up was Triptyque des Monts et Châteaux over the course of 3 days. I had a rough couple of weeks running in to this race with sinusitis infection and had only managed to ride about 12 hours over the course of two week so I wasn’t sure what to expect from the upcoming stage race. The first stage was surprisingly okay, I think I can thank the freshness of my legs and managed to roll a 12th from a bunch sprint. However, the next two days were not a success with me actually pulling out on the third day to prioritise my health.

I spent the following 10 days trying to get some form back after some recovery time for the upcoming Tour of North. This took place over 3 days, 3 road races and a 6km time trial the second day. I was feeling pretty strong throughout the weekend, starting with a top 10 in the first days sprint finish after spending the race off the front and being caught with only 1.5km to go. The following day started off with the 6km time trial, after good feelings the first day I knew I could do well in this and it may have been important to the GC which was a team aim of ours. I finished 2nd place in the time trial so managed to get the white jersey to race in for the afternoon stage which was nice! The road stage was a bit of a weird race with a lot of promising breaks, some I was in some I wasn’t. But we always had a team rider in them which was the important part. The winning break was made by my team mate Nathan Draper within the last part of the race over the top of a KOM. As a result, Nathan got the yellow jersey and picked up the KOM jersey too which was a bonus! Morale was high going in to the last day but we all knew it was going to be a hard day out with it going up The Torr, a beautiful long climb along the coast. This really shook things up and it wasn’t long before the peloton was in pieces. Fortunately I was part of the front 4 riders, we managed to hold roughly a minute and half gap to the finish and I won the sprint! It was a great feeling to get the hands in the air, one I had almost forgotten how it felt! This also meant I ended up bringing home the yellow and white jersey too. It was a successful trip to NI, not only for me, but the team as a whole.

 Reece

Since arrival home I managed to bring back a pretty awful chesty cough and cold, which set me back for Cicle classic which was disappointing as I thought it was a race I could’ve done well in. I ended up pulling out after an hour when things started kicking off a little. A real shame but that’s how things go sometimes.

For now I’m sat at home trying to not do much to allow my body some recovery that it really must need! I’m feeling pretty eager to get back to full health before I start my next big block of racing in Belgium with a load of big UCI events. It’s looking like my next race will be Flèche Ardennaise – a race I aim to do well in.

As I look back on the last month I’ve realised maybe I never gave my body the time it needed to really recover and for my immune system to get back to a normal level! This is definitely something I’m going to take on board over the remaining season as I try to get some good results. As always, a massive thanks to all the help from members of Team Zappi and LBTF. It wouldn’t be possible without you guys. See you out there on the road!

March – Race Season Start

My start to the season began on the island of Rhodes in Greece, as said in my previous blog. Over the course of the week I stayed there for, we took part in the Rhodes GP- a single day UCI 1.2 race. Then followed by Tour of Rhodes, which was a 3 day stage race.

With it being my first race of the season, I was always going to be a little apprehensive of how I’d perform and the nerves definitely kicked in the morning of the race. We went in to the race with not much of a solid plan, just see how we felt within, and discuss as a team if it would come to a sprint or not. After a hilly first half of the race if eventually came to a fast bunch gallop. We tried to ride for Charlie Quarterman (sprinter) however, due to the final sketchy few kilometres the team lead out was very challenging. We all finished safely but not with a result unfortunately. After feeling pretty strong in my first race I definitely began Tour of Rhodes much more composed and with a bit of confidence. The first stage was a rolling terrain finishing a 15km loop with a drag up to the sprint finish. I had gone with a few moves throughout the race but nothing stuck so decided to solo attack when we got to the final laps, I gained about a minute but was soon caught by the peloton. I knew now the only successful scenario for me would be to keep calm and follow the wheels for the sprint. I managed to get my positioning reasonably well and finished the race in 7th and missed out on the young rider’s jersey by just a second. I was happy with the result and was looking forward to the following two days after a relatively successful start. Stage 2 was the main mountain stage over 156km. I missed the breakaway over the top of the summit but fortunately my team mate Charlie Meredith was in it. The break stuck and Charlie managed to get 6th in the hill finish. I remained in the peloton and finished 2nd in the hill finish behind the breakaway. The final stage was a flat loop around the perimeter of the island. As expected it came down to a busy sprint finish. I had positioned pretty well and felt strong but there was a crash just in front of me with about 500 metres to go, after this it was game over really so I rolled in 19th. A pretty good start to the race season and I was now looking forward to my next race in Belgium being the Youngster Coast Challenge UCI 1.2U.

After a weekend off racing I was was excited to be going to Belgium with some decent form. The race was a flat out 160k course finishing on the coast of Koksijde. I knew my best shot at a result would be in a break so kept active around the front once things started to kick off. I got in a decent break that formed a fair gap but unfortunately didn’t stick. It was all looking like it would come down to a sprint finish. With around 15km to go I attacked with 2 other riders and gained a good gap. It was starting to look promising but we were caught with just a few k’s to go. Although I was pretty gutted with the result I was happy with my fitness and know it’s a long season ahead with plenty of opportunities!

Next up for me is Triptyque des Monts et Châteaux starting on 5th April (3 days). Hopefully I can keep the fitness up for it and have a successful trip.

As always big thanks to LBTF and Holdsworth Zappi.

 

Race Preparation

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything of importance but it’s always nice to do other activities that require your brain in a different way to cycling. There’s nothing worse than becoming a cyclist stuck in the motions of solely riding your bike!

Over the last couple of years, unfortunately I’ve learnt how important it is to listen to your body the hard way. It’s always better to take one step back to make two steps forward than the other way around. Something maybe I’ve been to naïve to understand before. This winter has been important and of great significance for me. I believe I have done everything under my control to prepare mentally and physically for the upcoming racing season.

I spent quite a good proportion of December and January with two friends, Roberto Scottini and Jacques Savage in the South of France, training along the Côte d’Azur. A lot of these rides were across the border in to Italy, and admittedly a lot coffee was drunk there too. There’s a lot to enjoy about Italy but one of my favourite things has to be the consistently great coffee at €1.50. I got a great base fitness off these training rides before heading back to the UK. Late January mainly consisted of turbo sessions that brought me on quite a bit before my last chapter of winter training would begin.
I went on to spend the first 2 weeks of February in Calpe alongside my new team mates of Holdsworth Zappi, and finally got to know Flavio Zappi a bit more. His “epic Wednesday rides” definitely lived up to their name! It was great to meet all of my team mates and get two last solid weeks of consistent training in warm weather as some of my final prep before the race season starts.
Halfway through Flavio's epic training ride

My first race is now just around the corner (3rd March), that being Rhodes GP. Soon followed by Tour of Rhodes. I’m really looking forward to kick-starting off my race season now and feeling very motivated, after a good winter with lots of development.

A massive thanks to Lewis Balyckyi Trust Fund and to all involved with Team Holdsworth Zappi. See you out there!