Bloomfield takes historic triple in Tour of Talybont
This prestigious race was back for its fourth edition over the weekend and although we were missing a few of the big favourites the racing did not disappoint. DMC Sports Management have kept the September dates that have proven popular with both riders and fans alike, however a little disappointingly the rumours of route changes did not materialise this year.
The big absentees this year were James “The Bird” Flower and Chris “Cheaton” Heaton. Flower being saved by his team for the Broadwater-Pycombe Nuptial race in October and Heaton lacking race fitness after a season struggling to get rides in. This meant that we reverted back to the inaugural edition with Chris “Wobbler” Wood, Mike “The Boss” Bloomfield and Dan “Donkey Kong” Kujawski lining up as pre-race favourites. The bookies had Kujawski at evens to win his third tour in a row, with Bloomfield at 2/1 and Wood much longer odds at 16/1; this had to have had something to do with Woods lack of racing this year. We caught up with him a few weeks ago and asked how the preparations were going: “Terrible to be honest, my team have been so focused on this race that I have not had much racing scheduled in for this year, I feel let down by the team.” Strong words indeed but a press release was quickly put out by his team contradicting this statement:
“Wood has lacked focus and commitment this year; we have been disappointed by the results we have been getting in training. His contract is up at the end of the season and only a good result at the ToT will ensure a new one. If he does remain with us, his whole ethic towards this team must change!”
It seemed like mixed messages were coming out of his camp but Wood needed a good showing. Bloomfield has been the rider racing the most this summer with Kujawski concentrating mostly on MTB and could feel a little aggrieved at only being second favourite.
Our riders arrived at the now familiar accommodation village of Talybont Farm and prepared their rides. The stage started and quickly our three favourites were in a breakaway, with Kujawski and Bloomfield looking the stronger of the three. The competition did not start as fiercely as last year and the first KoM and Sprint points were barely contested with Bloomfield crossing first in both. Bloomfield picking up the first mechanical of the race with a puncture at the top of the climb, this was quickly fixed and we were back racing. It wasn’t until Sheep Hill that the race started to get interesting. The breakaway had a clear lead over the peloton but all three attacked this now legendary climb with Bloomfield taking maximum points from Kujawski with Wood in third. Bloomfield was clearly dictating the pace of the breakaway and speeds topping 40mph (that’s 4.0mph for Amber) were reached on the descent. Both Wood and Kujawski avoided a repeat of last year on the next climb and negotiated it without incident. As the riders approached the next sprint point on the reservoir Wood was caught napping and a small split formed in the group, knowing he was strong here last year Bloomfield and Kujawski worked together to keep Wood at a distance in the run in, this meant that he had spent too much energy catching them to contest the sprint properly, Bloomfield kicked away from Kujawski and took his second maximum points for the day. The run in through Merthyr was fairly eventless and the final climb was won by Bloomfield again, who had by this point opened up a 10 point gap in the KoM competition over Kujawski. The descent into Talybont reservoir went without incident this year, Flower corner failed to catch out any of our riders and they all reached the final run in without incident, our breakaway then powered towards the finish line, Kujawski this time not paying full attention and Wood and Bloomfield sprinted away from him, with Bloomfield taking the stage win.
The second day started again without incident and quickly our three race leaders were in another breakaway of their own. Entering Crickhowell all three were together but then disaster struck for Kujawski as he punctured entering the climb, Bloomfield was caught up leaving Wood to claim the maximum points uncontested, though he had to work harder than last year as the line was moved to the summit of the climb for this year. The climb up the Black Mountains saw our riders joined by a local club run who had stumbled onto the route, in the confusion Kujawski pulled away from our other two breakaway riders and tried to claim the double points on offer, Bloomfield and Wood didn’t realise until late what had happened and it took all of Bloomfield’s skills to catch and pass Kujawski just short of the summit, Wood had no answer for the speed and had to settle for third.
Then came the strangest moment of this year’s Tour. With such a lead over the peloton the breakaway, seemingly frustrated by the lack of competition this year diverted off course into Hay-on-Wye and stopped for a coffee and some photo opportunities with the fans. Unfortunately for Kujawski and Wood the Tours latest sponsor “Shandy Bass” insisted on some photo shots of them with the popular with teenagers drink, Bloomfield flat out refused to take part. Shandy Bass were not happy with this and have refused to pay him his sponsor money, not that this will have worried him as the beverage appeared to trouble his rivals more. Kujawski was now clearly struggling and dropping back off the group who were now trying to catch the peloton who had overtaken them during this melee. Our riders caught and passed the mainly Welsh, Dutch peloton on the run in to ‘Chav Hill’ which has managed to shake off its reputation from the first tour and successfully retain the tour for a fourth consecutive year. The final climb of the day saw Wood and Bloomfield contest the points with Bloomfield just nicking it at the top to secure the KoM jersey for a second year, Kujawski was some way back in third.
Our three breakaway riders reached the River Taff together and headed for the line, Bloomfield took the front as the other two seemed spent, but this was all a ruse, entering Pencilli Kujawski, in the same manner as last year, attacked off the front, but in contrast to last year he was caught by Wood and Bloomfield. Wood tried his luck a few miles down the road but as he put the hammer down the dreaded Wobbler Mechanical struck again and he snapped a spoke and he couldn’t stay out in front. As our riders re-grouped there was a lot of looking at each other, no one wanting to commit, it wasn’t until the last 200m, where Bloomfield attacked Wood went with him but could not catch him on the line, Kujawski crossed the line in third.
The fabled TTT was yet again cancelled, a fourth year in a row, due to team issues at home for some of our riders. We all hope that it will be run, finally, next year though the bookies have already got short odds on it not happening.
This meant that in a repeat of the first Tour, Bloomfield won yellow for the second time; unprecedentedly he also took the KoM and the Sprint jerseys too to wrap up a fantastic tour for him. Wood managed to finish second on the podium for a second consecutive year much to the surprise of both his team and him. He has vowed to improve for next year and guaranteed a stage win for the team; we remain to be convinced of this statement. Kujawski, twice winner of this race finished in third, a really disappointing end for this rider, though some fans do believe Karma has finally caught up with him after his first win in controversial circumstances.
DMC Sports Management have promised to look into the stages next year, there are talks of a reversal in stages 1 and 2, this has received mixed emotions from the riders but the fans are keen to see this happen, there is even rumour of an extra day with one of the stages reversed. They have also promised to look at the TTT and a new course may be designed for next year to promote another reservoir in the area. What has been confirmed is that the KoM and Sprint point sections will be mapped onto riders Garmin devices to ensure everyone is clear on their locations. The Health and Safety executive (wives and girlfriends department) has also asked them to look into the descents to try to prevent our riders racing down mountains to get points.
We now have the close season to contend with, will Wood get a new contract with Team Kuota? Will Planet X let Kujawski ride them again? Will Flower get a bike service and return next year for the full tour?
Looking forward to the spring classics we have the Coulsdon-Worthing-Coulsdon and the Two days of Reading to whet our appetite before the 5th Tour of Talybont