Analyzing Carpenter’s blitz in Britain – Rally Cycling

When Robin Carpenter initially went on the attack on stage 2 of the Tour of Britain, it looked as though the stage would follow the pro cycling script: the early breakaway goes, the big teams chase, and the last rider from the breakaway gets caught with a few miles to go.

But this stage was different. Carpenter had a four-minute lead when he attacked the breakaway, and with 1km to go, he still had a minute over the peloton. The American took the biggest win of his career ahead of riders like Wout Van Aert, Julian Alaphilippe, and Mike Woods.

Here’s how he did it:

Rally Cycling came into stage 2 of the Tour of Britain wanting to put one of their riders in the breakaway, and Carpenter was keen. The Philly native saw the stage profile and thought, “Get me ahead of this climbing.”

The stage included three intermediate sprints and three KOMs, plus a number of uncategorized climbs that made for a total of 3000 meters (9850 ft.) of climbing. On the rolling uphill start, the breakaway was starting to go when a large crash near the front slowed the peloton. Carpenter saw his opportunity, and jumped across to the breakaway amidst the chaos.

In the space of 20 minutes – with a huge 500w effort in the middle – Carpenter averaged over 5w/kg, with a normalized power close to 6w/kg, just to make it into the breakaway. To put it in simpler terms, Carpenter put out world-class power numbers just to make the breakaway.

Making the breakaway
Establishing the breakaway

Time: 20:36
Avg Power: 371w (5.2w/kg)
Normalized Power: 404w (5.7w/kg)

Attack: 504w (7w/kg) for 2:32

As the gap went out as the breakaway approached the first intermediate sprint. This was Carpenter’s main goal for the day – he was interested in the KOM points and possibility of a stage win too, but those were not yet at the forefront of his mind. With numbers like these, it’s clear that Carpenter isn’t holding anything back.

Also, take a look at how quickly Carpenter was able to recover in between sprints – these were only 10km apart – and then put out a nearly identical max sprint effort.

Intermediate sprints

Once the breakaway’s lead reached seven minutes, Carpenter knew they had a shot at the stage victory. As the breakaway whittled down on the KOM climbs, Carpenter made the decision to not contest the KOM points, and instead let the KOM leader (who was also in the breakaway) have them. In exchange, Carpenter got cooperation – the KOM leader would work with Carpenter, trading pulls on the flats, and not attacking him on the climbs.

Carpenter scored maximum points on both intermediate sprints

This was an ideal scenario for Carpenter, who rarely goes solo. In fact, Carpenter said after the race, “Going solo is out of my comfort zone, not something I normally do.” But as the breakaway approached the final 30km of the stage, Carpenter was thinking about going outside his comfort zone. On an uncategorized climb with 25km to go, Carpenter made his move, putting in a huge five-minute effort, and dispatching his final breakaway companion.

Attack on uncategorized climb with 25km to go

Time: 5:29
Average Power: 416w (5.8w/kg)

Carpenter had done his homework before stage 2, looking at the profile, climbs, and technicality of the finish. Carpenter said he believed that a solo breakaway could work because of the downhills in the finale, as well as the “scary” nature of the British descents.

While the downhills in the UK aren’t like alpine descents, they can be difficult to navigate because of their steep grades, and tall hedges that line the road, making it difficult to see. Carpenter said he used his Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM GPS a lot in the final 25km, constantly switching between the profile which would show him how long the climbs were, and the map which would show him the upcoming turns.

Although he already spent a lot of energy throughout the day – Carpenter had by now burned over 4000 calories – Carpenter went all-in on his solo effort, while also making sure to pace himself on the undulating terrain. There was a series of small hills before the finish, which Carpenter rode at close to his threshold, while also maintaining a sub-threshold effort on the flats.

25km solo

Time: 34:00
Average Power: 313w (4.4w/kg)
Normalized Power: 337w (4.8w/kg)

Average Power on the climbs: ~400w (5.6w/kg)
Average Power on the flats: ~340w (4.7w/kg)

Carpenter watched his power a lot more than usual during his 25km solo effort, saying that a power goal helped him stay focused and motivated. Typically, Carpenter is a breakaway guy, but not solo. He buffers lactate very well, which means that he does well with short rest periods in between heavy workloads.

Translated: Carpenter prefers doing over/under intervals rather than steady-state intervals.

But on this day, Carpenter said he was “really motivated to not have anyone else with me.”

The undulating terrain of the final 25km suited Carpenter, who pedaled harder up the climbs than he did on the flats, rested on the descents, and still maintained a significant advantage over the peloton. In the end, Carpenter had a minute in hand as he came under the flamme rouge, and had plenty of time to celebrate the biggest win of his career, as he became the first American to win a stage of the Tour of Britain.

— Zach Nehr to rallycycling.com

Joyce sprints to fourth in elite company to close out Britain – Rally Cycling

Colin Joyce sprinted to fourth place on the Aberdeen Esplanade, just narrowly missing a podium packed with sprint royalty.[1]

The 2019 Rutland – Melton Cicle Classic winner brought his Tour of Britain debut to an impressive end, after tasting disappointment on stage 6.

«It was nice to have Robin up the road. The last five to ten kilometers were chaos. I tried to have a late go at it, but couldn’t quite find my way to the line. But yeah, happy with the result.»[2]

The sprint came after a Robin Carpenter-led breakaway[6] was caught just five zkm from the line. Despite suffering through the day, Carpenter found a little extra energy to salute the huge crowds on the Cairn o’Mount KOM.

«The fans were just crazy and I was trying to hype them up. That was the best part of the day.»

Carpenter has enjoyed a superb Tour of Britain, with a stage win and day in the overall race lead. He said, «You can feel like people want you to be here. Just feel the love.»[4]

Joyce summed up the team’s time in Britain.

«It’s an amazing country, especially Scotland. The dense forests, the rivers, and the amazing crowds.»[3][5][7]

— Tom Owen to rallycycling.com

Giacomo Nizzolo sprints to 2nd place at Tour of Britain stage 5

Ethan Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers) won stage 5 of the Tour of Britain, taking the win just ahead of Giacomo Nizzolo (Team Qhubeka NextHash) with Dan Mclay (Arkea Samsic) in 3rd place.

Stage 5 of the Tour of Britain was a 150km route from Alderely Park to Warrington. After a few initial undulations, the final 80km of the stage was mostly flat which made it a great opportunity for the sprinters.

Team Qhubeka NextHash looked to make the most of this opportunity with the European Champion, Nizzolo one of the favourites for the stage. Five riders formed the early break of the day, but as expected, they were not given much of an advantage.

Nicholas Dlamini, together with a rider from Deceuninck-Quickstep and Israel Start-Up Nation controlled the gap throughout the day. It was then Qhubeka NextHash that took responsibility, adding Mauro Schmid and Sean Bennett to the chase with 25km to go to shut down the break.

The finale was made trickier due to a brief but late downpour which, making the roads quite slippery. Just inside of a kilometer to go, there was a crash right up near the front of the peloton. This created a slight split in the peloton which Nizzolo was caught behind.

Fortunately for Nizzolo, Barbero was there in support to close the gap, but it was still a significant effort required just before kicking to the line. Almost as soon as Nizzolo got dropped off he had to launch his sprint from far to try and pass those that escaped the crash ahead of him before the line arrived.

Nizzolo had the superior speed over the final meters and was able to pass everyone that but Hayter, who just held on to take the stage victory.

Unfortunately, the crash in the last corner was not necessary. We had to come from far with Carlos, he did a great job to close the gap but it did not come for free. When I arrived it was the moment to start the sprint and my legs were already full of lactic acid. I can say I am happy I didn’t crash but at the same time not super happy because I think I had a better chance to play my card. Overall, I am happy, the team did a super job to control the race with Deceuninck and now I look forward to the next goals.

Giacomo Nizzolo

— Damian to teamqhubeka.com

A day with the swannies at the Tour of Britain – Rally Cycling

A swanny – or a soigneur if you want to use the proper French – is a human Swiss Army knife. They do everything they can to keep a bike racing team on the road. 

What does it take to be a good swanny? Patrique Hogemann has been a swanny for years. He says it’s about temperament.

“You have to be a giver not a taker. You have to put others before yourself, always.”

On the first day I met him, Hogemann gave me his lunch and went hungry himself – so I know from personal experience he really does believe in putting others first. Even press officers.

Most people know swannies as the people who give pro cyclists their massage after a race. What many folks don’t appreciate is just how much more there is to the job.

After an hour in the car with them chasing around the various feeding points of a stage in the Tour of Britain, one might think their most frequently used skill is cursing. Swannies can curse in English, Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch – plus probably a handful of other languages – with the fluency of sailors, all the while navigating the narrow country roads of Britain with a kind of courageous confidence. 

And speaking of finding their way, swannies must make use of at least three different mapping systems to find their way from the parcours to the off-route path then battle their way back on to the parcours further along, before the peloton races by. If they miss, the riders might not get a feed, or a vital bidon of mix. They have to plan, execute and recalibrate 15 times a day. 

It’s high-stress and often high-stakes. But this is only the racing part of the day.

For the swannies on Rally Cycling the days begin early and finish late. 

In fact, it’s difficult to communicate just how much they do, day-in day-out, to help the riders perform. Cooking, massage, paying tolls, filling out expense receipts, driving the bus, driving the cars, filling the team vehicles with gas, supporting the riders as soon as they cross the line, and giving directions back to wherever they parked the bus. 

They must fill musettes with food they have prepared, while at the same time keeping an eye on the load of laundry currently running in the team truck. In fact, every one of these tasks must be accomplished concurrently with others – so it takes galaxy brain-level organization skills. 

Lunch time

Haring through downtowns of cities they’ve never visited, looking desperately for the finish line, they are part getaway driver, part mafia fixer, part explorer.

If the finish is on top of a climb and the parking is not, guess who is hiking up to the line with an enormous backpack full of drinks and spare clothing. 

And on the best days, they’re also the first ones to celebrate a victory with the riders.

Hogemann says good swannies are at the center of everything, too. 

“The swannie is like the spider in the web. They have to see everything, plan for everything.”

When you boil it down, the job has a simple purpose.

“You have to remove every obstacle to the riders’ performance. If I can look at myself in the mirror at the end of the day and say I truly did everything to help the team, that is enough.”

Even when it means giving your lunch to the press officer. 


Tour of Britain stage 4 results
1 Wout Van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma 5:04:22
2 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep
3 Michael Woods (Can) Israel Start-up Nation 0:00:01
4 Mikkel Honoré (Den) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:00:04
5 Ethan Hayter (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 0:00:08
6 Daniel Martin (Irl) Israel Start-up Nation 0:00:13
7 Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Alpecin-Fenix 0:00:16
8 Simon Clarke (Aus) Team Qhubeka Assos
9 Sergio Roman Martin Galan (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA 0:00:27
10 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team DSM 0:00:29
11 Maximilian Stedman (GBr) Canyon DHB Sungod
12 Carlos Rodriguez Cano (Spa) Ineos Grenadiers
13 Maxime Bouet (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic 0:00:35
14 Mark Donovan (GBr) Team DSM 0:00:37
15 Oliver Stockwell (GBr) Great Britain 0:00:41
16 Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
17 Joel Nicolau Beltran (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
18 Connor Swift (GBr) Team Arkea-Samsic 0:00:44
19 Gavin Mannion (USA) Rally Cycling
26 Robin Carpenter (USA) Rally Cycling 0:01:13

GC standings after stage 4
1 Wout Van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma 14:44:49
2 Ethan Hayter (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 0:00:02
3 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:00:11
4 Mikkel Honoré (Den) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:00:21
5 Michael Woods (Can) Israel Start-up Nation 0:00:40
6 Rohan Dennis (Aus) Ineos Grenadiers 0:00:44
7 Daniel Martin (Irl) Israel Start-up Nation 0:00:56
8 Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Alpecin-Fenix 0:01:13
9 Mark Donovan (GBr) Team DSM 0:01:34
10 Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix 0:01:38
17 Robin Carpenter (USA) Rally Cycling 0:02:13
18 Gavin Mannion (USA) Rally Cycling 0:02:28

Stage 5 of the Tour of Britain kicks off on Thursday at 6:30 am EDT, with television pictures on GCN+ from 8 am EDT. 

— Tom Owen to rallycycling.com

Clarke climbs to 8th on explosive Tour of Britain stage 4

Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) powered to the Tour of Britain stage 4 victory, beating Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quickstep) into 2nd place with Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up) rounding out the podium.

Stage 4 of the Tour of Britain was the longest of the race, covering 210km from Aberaeron to Llandudno. There was also a fair amount of climbing in the final half of the stage, with two short sharp climbs placed in the final 7km.

The tough nature of the course meant it would be an important stage for the GC men and the punchy climber specialists in the bunch. For Team Qhubeka NextHash, this meant Simon Clarke would be the go-to-guy for the day.

An early break did animate the beginning of the stage, and a few opportunists did also try their luck by jumping across the lead group with around 60km to go, but the up and down finale ensured the likes of Jumbo-Visma, Ineos and Deceuninck-Quickstep kept the pressure on at the front of the race.

Team Qhubeka NextHash played its first card with 35km to go, as Mauro Schmid attacked on one of the hills outside of Llandudno. He was joined by two others, but they never got more than 25 seconds before being caught with 19km remaining.

The peloton stayed together until the penultimate climb but the battle to reach the foot of the hill was intense. Team Qhubeka NextHash did a fine job though, looking after Clarke into the climb, Giacomo Nizzolo and Carlos Barbero in particular doing some fantastic work to keep their teammate in the top 10 places.

An acceleration over the top of the climb by Movistar was again shut down, just before the final 2km climb to the line began. Riders were greeted with an explosive gradient of 18% and it was here where the favourites made their moves.

Van Aert was matched by Alaphilppe and Woods right up to the line, the Belgian champion just having enough to edge the World Champion into 2nd. Clarke fought valiantly and brought home a credible 8th place finish on the stage, 16 seconds behind Van Aert.

It was a pretty good day. The team was pretty keen to bounce back after an unfortunate day yesterday, with the crash in the TTT. The plan was to look after me all day and I would do what I can in the final. I had the full support from the team and I have to say it was super teamwork. I really appreciated everyone’s help, they all did their job and each person made a difference. I had great help in the lead out to the climb which was crucial with the final climb being so steep. Every meter you were behind the front was a disadvantage so I got dropped off in the perfect position without having to use much energy at all, which was really good. I did my best, getting up the wall as best as possible. 8th place, happy with that and happy to get a top 10 for the team and hopefully we can keep building upon the positivity.

Simon Clarke

— Damian to teamqhubeka.com

A beautiful day to be blue in Britain – Rally Cycling

After stunning the peloton to become the first-ever American stage winner at the Tour of Britain on Monday, today saw Robin Carpenter and the rest of our men’s team fight hard to try and retain the leader’s blue jersey.

Last off the ramp in Llandelio, Wales, the riders put in a gutsy ride that produced an 11th best time on the day. Their mark was beaten by stage winners Ineos Grenadiers, with their rider Ethan Hayter going into the blue of overall race leader.

Photographer Matt Grayson was there to capture the action.

Stage 4 of the Tour of Britain kicks off on Wednesday at 5:30 am EDT, with television pictures on GCN+ from 8 am EDT. 

— Tom Owen to rallycycling.com

Carpenter wins Britain stage 2, seizes race lead – Rally Cycling

A daring solo move with 30km to go saw Robin Carpenter blow away the breakaway and outrun the peloton, to claim his first European race win. 

Not only did he secure the stage honors[2], Carpenter also finished with enough time on the peloton to go into the blue overall leader’s jersey. 

“I was feeling really good almost all day, then the last 15km were super tough. I didn’t have a whole lot left in the tank, but I knew I had a big gap. I just had to keep it steady and make sure I didn’t explode.”

Carpenter attacked the descents into Exeter with relish[3], but he found the tank almost dry by the time he reached the city.

“I was falling apart at the end but I made sure to be falling apart by myself.”[4]

— Tom Owen to rallycycling.com

Brits on Tour – ISN at the Tour of Britain 2021

The Israel Start-Up Nation riders, our DS Cherie Pridham and her support team have travelled pretty much as far south as you can get in England, arriving in Penzance to get ready for the UK’s biggest race of the year. Across the eight stages, the Tour offers something for everyone and the team chosen by Cherie – who is of course the first ever female DS at WorldTour level – brings strength and depth, from Irishman Dan Martin, winner of stages in all three Grand Tours who has just announced his retirement, to young Mason Hollyman in his Tour of Britain debut.

Alongside them will ride one of Britain’s most popular riders and time trial supremo Alex Dowsett; super domestique Reto Hollenstein (the ‘Swiss Skyscraper’, you’ll spot him, he’s 2meters tall) and ever popular Mike Woods who secured Israel Start-Up Nation’s first Tour de France podium earlier this summer. All this talent is topped off with world beating sprinter, Andre Greipel who has, of course, won Tour of Britain stages before… 

Israel Start-Up Nation is not short of experience with some of the world’s most successful riders on the roster, and two of these go into the race having announced their retirements.  Andre will hang up his wheels at the end of 2022 and Dan Martin has called time at the end of the 2021 season.  Dan said of the Tour of Britain: “Even just arriving in the UK felt special as we so rarely get to race here. It’s been four years since I last did the race and I’m excited to race on the roads that I competed on growing up. It’s always a tough test with a high quality field and tough terrain. Hopefully we get to experience the crowds that used to come out as pre-Covid it was always one of the best atmospheres we raced with. We have a strong team and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do everyday. Some stages really suit me and I hope we can be aggressive throughout the week. Form is always a bit unknown this time of year after a long season but I felt good at Plouay so we will do our best and enjoy my last Tour of Britain”.

At the other end of the spectrum, young Mason Hollyman, our 21 year old Yorkshireman, has been selected to race his first Tour of Britain after a strong season: “I’m really looking forward to racing on home roads, it’s a race I’ve grown up watching on TV and going to the roadside with my family, so it’s pretty special to be given this opportunity by the team.  ISN is super strong here so my goal for the race is to do my absolute best for the team in whatever capacity I can, and enjoy racing at home.  It’s been three years since I last raced in the UK, so it’ll be nice to do it again”.

Alex Dowsett said: “I’m very excited to come back to the Tour of Britain. The last time I raced here I came painfully close to winning a stage – ironically it was actually ISN that chased me down, and here we are in an ISN jersey. 

It’s always exciting to race on home roads.  Our team lineup has undergone a few changes, it’s different to our initial plan due to some injuries but it’s great to see Mason stepping up and riding with some of the best on the team in Andre, Mike and Dan, and really experience what it’s like to ride at this level. I’m very excited to see how he gets on.

We’ll be fighting every day for stage wins and a GC result for Woodsy – and just having a good time.  The Tour of Britain does present some challenges in long transfers and early starts but I think we have great morale, it’s a good team, a fun team. I’m just looking forward to seeing some good crowds on the roads again.

And I’m really looking forward to my first race with Cherie as DS too, we’ve not raced together yet so that’s exciting. Brits on tour!”

Stage 1, Sunday 5 September: Penzance to Bodmin (180km)

Eagle-eyed residents of Cornwall may have noticed an extra buzz around town in the last few days, as the international peloton descends for the first stage of the 2021 Tour of Britain.

Stage One is a no-holes-barred, full-on introduction to the dramatic Cornish landscape, taking in both north and south coasts and some of the most stunning scenery in the whole country.  The route promises a punchy start to the Tour and combined with Stage 2, one that could help shape the GC for the entire race.

DS Cherie Pridham said; “We’re starting off with a nice long climb to set the tone and overall this stage is very undulating, with lots of narrow roads too.  Some of it is quite exposed so if we get any wind or rain it’ll change the nature of the racing quite a bit.  Potentially it’s a tricky stage and with the last 5km kicking up quite a bit, I wouldn’t be surprised if this one sees some splits and finishes in a reduced sprint – maybe up to 40 riders will stay together but it’ll be interesting, especially at the last 650m which kicks up again”.

Stage 2, Monday 6 September: Sherford to Exeter (183km)

Onwards to Devon, where local fans will no doubt be keen to watch the three Cat 2 climbs of the day – Strete, Rundlestone and Warren House Inn.  Distance wise, Stage 2 is similar to Stage 1 and again, the day could prove decisive for the final GC.  Three sprints are also on offer including one at Slapton Sands, which, if you studied Geography GCSE in the South West, you may recognise from geography field trips.

It’s a technical day, with plenty of hairpin bends, narrow roads and bridges to cross; after a recce, Cherie says  “This is a classic climbing day on typical Devon roads – very interesting, and potentially a decisive stage for the GC today.  They’ll be paying a lot of attention to their positioning.  The stage has three long, Cat 2 climbs, which we’re used to on the Tour of Britain, but there are also another couple of uncategorised climbs which could affect the front.  I imagine a reduced group by the finish but that will suit the final run in, with a narrow bridge, and a couple of pieces of street furniture too.”

Stage 3, Tuesday 6 September: Carmarthenshire Team Time Trial (18km)

Three days in and the race reaches Wales.  We’ve a strong team for time trials, including of course national champion and Grand Tour ITT stage winner, Alex Dowsett.

Speaking before the race Alex said “The Team Time Trial is going to be a big hit, it’s my main goal. We can certainly be competitive and squeeze everything out of it. Attention to detail is the main thing so I’m really hoping  to be able to help the team in that respect, and limit any damages for GC for Woodsy.”

Cherie says; “By itself, this TTT isn’t too bad – 18km, not too technical, with just a slight drag uphill.  But what will really influence the style of riding is how the GC picture looks at the end of the previous day.   Stage 3 could be one to target, and take the win, or it could be one to conserve and control.  Watch this space!”

Stage 4, Wednesday 8 September: Aberaeron to Great Orme, Llanduno (210km)

The Queen stage and a long one in the saddle, this is a really important day for all riders, especially those chasing GC contention. And again, we take in some of the UK’s most stunning coastal scenery, including beaches and mountains – we recommend the chip shops in Borth – but along the way, two Cat 1 and two Cat 2 climbs.  Coastal winds could also play a part, so too can the microclimate along the coast, where it can be sunny one minute and foggy the next.  It’s a beautiful part of the world and should provide some superb racing.

Cherie says: “As we head further into Wales and the savage climbs of Snowdonia, today could be decisive for the GC.  Again, the results of Stages 1 & 2 will come into play to decide how we race on the day as this is the longest stage and very technical.  When you take into account the tight corners, sharp roads, cattle grids, a couple of level crossings, plus the fact that in the last 50km there are three KOM points – two of them Cat 1s – it’s definitely a day to watch.  There are a couple of points for a potential shake-up and there’s a technical last 25km too with lots of climbing.  Classic Tour of Britain”

Stage 5, Thursday 9 September: Alderley Park to Warrington (152km)

On paper, today’s stage is less fierce than the previous day, but when you look at it from a sprinter’s perspective, it gets a lot more exciting. And when you have one of the world’s top sprinters on your team….even more so.  Andre Griepel has a fair bit of experience racing on British roads and has won sprint stages of the Tour of Britain in the past – and, having announced his retirement at the end of the 2022 season, could Stage 5 add to his record-breaking tally of 158 pro wins, the most of any active rider?

Cherie’s view on the stage; “I’d say this is the first true sprinters day, it has a hilly start, including a Cat 2 near the mid way point but after that it quickly flattens out.  I’d expect the sprinters to keep this one under control.  The last 3km has a few turns to get right too.”

Stage 6, Friday 6 September: Carlisle to Gateshead (198km)

Another three Cat 1 climbs and 198km of racing, anyone?  The Tour travels further north now, as the race makes its way towards the last few stages. But this stage shouldn’t be seen in isolation as the eyes of the cycling world look to Flanders at the end of September, and the UCI Road World Championships.  Back in Gateshead though it should be quite the finish, underneath Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North.

Chatting with Cherie, her excitement for this stage is clear; “An absolute must watch, this one.  It’s a very similar course to the Flanders UCI Road World Championships route, mimicking a lot of what the riders will see later in September.  The Tour of Britain is an important marker in riders’ progress towards the Worlds so the race GC contenders will need to be alert here.  I think it’ll come down to a reduced bunch sprint, after a few undulating climbs plus three Cat 1s.”

Stage 7, Saturday 11 September: Hawick to Edinburgh (195km)

On to the Borders now and early Autumn in the Tweed Valley, which sounds lovely for those of us watching, but will be another technical day and one for the peloton to stay on high alert. 

A lot of the route is quite exposed on high ground and just to prove it, there are a few wind farms in the area.  Depending on the conditions there could be a few chances for breaks to get away, as Cherie noted; “One for a breakaway perhaps? There are some punchy, tight climbs, and again, like Stage 6, it’s another where riders aiming for the UCI Road World Championships will test themselves and use it as prep.  There are some technical aspects to watch out for too, some cattle grids for example, but again, definitely one to watch.”

Stage 8, Sunday 12 September: Stonehaven to Aberdeen (195km)

The final stage and one the sprinters will definitely have their eye on.  But before the riders reach Aberdeen there are a few technical spots to watch out for, including cattle grids, narrow bridges and more – but by now, the riders will be used to these.  The final 2km are right on the sea-front so the bunch may be affected by whatever the North Sea can throw at them, but overall it should be a super fast last day.

Cherie said “it’s a very Scottish stage – some of the route comes close to the North Sea so the wind could be a factor – but by the time we get to the last 20km this one really has bunch sprint written all over it.  It’ll be a fast, fast run in to Aberdeen.  There are a couple of tight corners and pinch points in the final 3km too, so expect a really superb finale.”

— Sjors Beukeboom to israelcyclingacademy.com

Team Qhubeka NextHash excited to return to the Tour of Britain

Team Qhubeka NextHash has announced an exciting lineup for the upcoming AJ Bell Tour of Britain that sees the inclusion of the European champion Giacomo Nizzolo and Nicholas Dlamini, former winner of the King of the Mountains classification.

The Tour of Britain is an event that our team has thoroughly enjoyed competing at in previous editions with notable success and we’re excited for this year’s race that gets underway on Sunday in Penzance.

Along with Dlamini and Nizzolo, also included is Australia’s Simon Clarke who will be looking to spearhead our aspirations overall as well as Giro d’Italia stage-winner Mauro Schmid.

They will be supported by multi-talented Carlos Barbero who will look to make an impact in the fast finishes as he’s done in the past, as well the USA’s Sean Bennett who earlier this year completed his first-ever Tour de France.

Our full line-up:

Simon Clarke
Giacomo Nizzolo
Nicholas Dlamini
Carlos Barbero
Mauro Schmid
Sean Bennett

Simon Clarke- Rider

I am really looking forward to it! It’s a similar sort of road racing that we grew up doing in Australia so it’s as close to going home to race as we get. It’s a race that I’ve done a bunch of times right from when I was under 23 looking to turn pro and a bunch of times since I’ve been pro. So it’s always nice to go back there, being an English-speaking country for a week or so having not been back to Australia for two years now so it should be good. It looks like a rather undulating, pretty challenging Tour of Britain this year which is interesting for me and I’m looking forward to tackling it.

Giacomo Nizzolo- Rider

This race will be a crucial part of my preparation for the World Championships later this month. Of course, if a chance presents itself then I will look to take it but my main focus is to ensure that I work on my shape and take the next step in building my condition towards that goal.

Nic Dlamini- Rider

“I’m super-excited to head back to the Tour of Britain, it really is one of my favourite races as I’ve won the King of the Mountains jersey in 2019. I’m excited to go back with the team this year, we’ve got a strong line-up with punchy riders so I think it calls out for some good aggressive racing. There is quite a strong line-up overall with some big names announced for the race but I think with the team that we have this year we should be able to put out some really good results.

I am also nervous as I’ve been off competition for a few weeks so gaining the confidence again to bump shoulders in what I imagine could be some tricky conditions will be nerve-wracking but all-in-all. I’m just excited to get back to racing.”

Carlos BarberoRider

I am very excited and looking forward to the Tour of Britain. It’s a very beautiful race with great fans in which we will look for opportunities during the eight days of racing. There are long stages with a parcour going up and down all day that surely presents a good show for everyone!

— Karselle Moodley to teamqhubeka.com

A North American’s guide to the Tour of Britain – Rally Cycling

You may not know this, but a lot of the articles on the Rally Cycling website – including the one you’re currently reading – are written by British authors. Therefore, we have a unique insight into the race that Kyle Murphy recently described as the team’s “biggest goal” of the late-season, the Tour of Britain.   

Running from September 5-12, the race will take on one of its hilliest routes to date as it travels from the southwest of England all the way to the north of Scotland. For a country roughly the size of Alabama, Britain sure does pack in some fantastic cycling, centuries of history and tonnes of culture. 

This is a guide to the Tour of Britain for Americans – written by Brits – and will lay out some of the reasons this year’s edition can’t be missed.

Why the Tour of Britain is such a big deal 

Much like the recent Joe Martin Stage Race in the US, the Tour of Britain is the UK’s first UCI stage race in more than two years. The last edition was won by Mathieu van der Poel in 2019 and with a total elevation of 18,914 meters, a wide range of stage profiles and a massively strong field, this year’s edition promises to be even more explosive. 

Follow carefully because this may get confusing, but the route of the Tour of Britain passes through three different countries.

Britain (an island), the British Isles (an archipelago) and the United Kingdom (a country) are three entirely different entities, but their names are often used interchangeably, which can be incredibly confusing.  

In fact, ‘Britain’ refers to a geographic landmass – the island on which you’ll find the countries of England, Scotland and Wales. These three countries and Northern Ireland make up the country known as the UK. The race this year has stages in all three nations, and there’s a hard-to-understand regional accent to contend with almost every day, not to mention the ancient Gaelic languages in Wales and Scotland. So, the riders will be “welcome” in England, “croeso” in Cymru (Wales) and “fáilte” in Alba (Scotland).

This year’s Tour of Britain is an ideal warmup for the UCI World Championships in Belgium. The 2021 road races from Antwerp to Leuven follow a relentless undulating route, much like the profiles to be tackled at the Tour of Britain. This is why the likes of multi-talented superstar Wout Van Aert (Team Jumbo-Visma) and 2018 winner Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick Step), have come to tune-up their legs on the characteristically heavy, rolling roads of Britain. 

The rest of the start list is also just as strong. This year will be a homecoming for the Tour de France’s green jersey winner, Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck – Quick Step), as well a chance for young talents like Ethan Hayter (INEOS Grenadiers) and Tobias Foss (Team Jumbo-Visma) – and our men in orange – to match themselves against the world’s best. Rally Cycling alumni Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) is also on the start list and our own Joey Rosskopf is one of five national champions lining up. 

Finally, since its modern revival in 2004, there has never been a North American overall or stage winner. In fact, there has never been a podium for an American rider. Americans Philip Zajicek and Chris Jones finished in fourth place in 2005 and 2012 respectively, and Canadian Christian Meier finished seventh in 2010. Could 2021 be a landmark year at the Tour of Britain for our American and Canadian contingent? 

British slang quiz

For a country that boasts the literary talents of William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Virginia Woolf and Jane Austen, Britain has some bizarre words and phrases. To get Rally Cycling fans talking the lingo, we’ve made a multiple-choice quiz. You can find the answers at the bottom of the page, below the team roster.  

What is someone doing if they are “taking the mickey?”
Taking a ride on the subway ?
Mocking someone ?
Kidnapping a mascot from Disneyland ? 

What is a “good old chin wag?”
A long conversation with someone ?
A shave from a barber ?
An uppercut ?

What is a “bodge?”
An improvised repair job completed in a hurry that will likely fail ?
A small bird native to the Scottish coast ?
A type of play in soccer ⚽️ 

What will you get if you order “chips” in Britain?
Potato wedges

What is a “pea souper?”
A traditional Welsh breakfast dish ???????
A thick morning city fog ?
A restaurant with a terrible menu ? 

Stage by stage 

9/5 Stage 1 | Penzance – Bodmin (180.8km) Undulating
The opening stage sees the riders tour the county of Cornwall. It’s an undulating stage with a slight uphill rise inside the final kilometer. 

9/6 Stage 2 | Sherford – Exeter (183.9km) Hilly
The hilliest stage of the race with the riders climbing a total 3,499 meters. There will likely be fireworks on the run-in to Exeter.

9/7 Stage 3 | Llandeilo – National Botanic Garden of Wales (18.2km) TTT
Stage 3 enters Wales for a team time -trial on a relatively flat course. The finish is across from a beautiful dome-shaped, 110-meter-long greenhouse.

9/8 Stage 4 | Aberaeron – Great Orme, Llandudno (210km) Hilly, uphill finish
Another stage in Wales, the longest day of the week, involves some serious climbing including the category 1 Eidda’s Well and steep uphill finish on the Great Orme peninsula. 

9/9 Stage 5 | Alderley Park – Warrington (152.2km) Sprint stage
Back into England for day five, the stage to Warrington is the first obvious chance for the sprinters. A hilly start to proceedings quickly gives way to a flat run-in to the line. 

9/10 Stage 6 | Carlisle – Gateshead (198km) Hilly
A perfect stage for riders who are gearing up for the hilly World Championships in Belgium, stage 6 in the far North of England may be the most exciting of the lot. 

9/11 Stage 7 | Hawick – Edinburgh (194.8km) Hilly
The penultimate stage starts on the Scottish Borders and finishes in the country’s picturesque capital. This could be a day for the breakaway so look out for Rally Cycling orange up the road. 

9/12 Stage 8 | Stonehaven – Aberdeen (173km) Sprint stage
The final stage of the race is an entirely Scottish affair. The closing kilometers are on a straight road right next to the North Sea. It promises to be a truly stunning finish in a fast-paced bunch sprint. 

Tour of Britain Roster
Robin Carpenter
Colin Joyce
Gavin Mannion
Kyle Murphy
Joey Rosskopf
Nicholas Zukowsky 

How to watch 

Comprehensive race coverage from every stage at the Tour of Britain can be caught on Eurosport Player and the GCN+ app. 

British slang quiz answers

What is someone doing if they are “taking the mickey?”
Taking a ride on the subway ?
Mocking someone ?
Going to Disneyland ? 

What is a “good old chin wag?”
A long conversation with someone ? (like a post-race debrief)
A shave from a barber ?
An uppercut ? 

What is a “bodge?”
An improvised repair job completed in a hurry that will likely fail ? (something our mechanics never do)
A small bird native to the British coast ?
A play in soccer ⚽️ 

What will you get if you order “chips” in Britain?
Potato wedges

What is a “pea souper?”
A traditional Welsh breakfast dish ???????
A thick morning city fog ? (“it’s a right pea souper at the start of this stage”)
A restaurant with a rubbish starter menu ?

— Oskar Scarsbrook to rallycycling.com