25/09/18

Development rider George Skinner's racing update: victories, crashes and lessons in Flemish

Created by Michelle Arthurs Brennan at 2018-09-25 17:56:39

Development rider George Skinner updated us on his progress in May. A lot has happened since then - read on for his most recent exploits, up until the end of the season...

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20.05.2018 - EMRRL Team PB Performance – 16th

A 10km ride from university, a group of us rode out to the race start on what was set to be a pretty hot day.

We rode aggressively as a team but a move just managed to stay away despite our efforts to try and pull it back.

A touch of handlebars, as someone tried to push me onto the other side of the road as they tried to move up at the finish dropped me back a little so I finished just outside the points.

Frustrating, but still the highest placed Loughborough rider and a good long day on the bike.

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27.05.2018 – Performance Cycles – South Cerny RR – 2nd

A 100km pancake flat race near the Cotswolds. A 12 lap 90km race.

For the first lap, I sat towards the front, just to stay safe, as we went around the course for the first time.

Halfway through the second lap I decided to have a little dig on the only very slight rise on the course.

A group of 6 of us got a gap on the bunch with the main goal being to stay out of sight of the bunch. Within a few laps we were whittled down to just 3, with the race coming down to a sprint between us.

I managed to take second, half a wheel behind first place. My power for the two hours of the race was just a few watts under 300w and we averaged 44.5kph for the 90km. A rapid race!

29.05.2018 – Goodwood – 3rd

My first Goodwood of the year and my favourite midweek race. A strong fast race as always with a large break going up the road.

Initially I missed the move but I was quick to bridge with one other. As soon as we got there we knew we were going to stay away so everyone was rolling through steadily with no games being played early on.

With 3/4 of a lap to go, two slipped off the front and went on to compete for the win. I came around the chicane second wheel and unleashed probably my best sprint of the season opening up a few bike lengths between me and 4th place.

02.06.2018 – PNECC RR – 29th

A frustrating race for me as I was feeling strong. A break had gone up the road but with a lap to go a few of us lit up the front of the race reeling the break in under a lap.

However, this caused issues for me as I then cramped up as the decisive split went away with under a lap to go. This dropped me back into what was effectively the grupetto.

I worked hard to try and make it across but the cramping got worse and I rolled in behind the main bunch. I knew the cramp wasn’t down to my nutrition as I had been eating and hydrating well throughout the race. In hindsight we think it was caused by bike fit with my saddle being too high.

16.06.2018 – 17.06.2018 – OVB Stage race – 11th on GC

A good few days of racing for me and good to put up in Loughborough racing as a team. Stage 1 was a TTT in which we finished 4th, picking up a few points. We rode strongly and I set a huge power PB of just under 400w for just under 11 wheels.

Stage 2 was a short road race on a course that went up the infamous Harby Hill 3 times. I knew I had a good chance on this stage with a flat sprint finish a few kilometres after the top of Harby. I came over the crest of the hill just a handful of seconds off the back of the bunch and reeled my way back on, coming straight around the side of the bunch carrying speed. I won the bunch sprint to take third on stage losing a few seconds to the 4 guys in the break.

Stage 3 was a longer road race on the same course as the day before, except this time the finish was at the top of Harby Hill. We all knew this was a danger stage in terms of GC.

The three of us came in as part of the front bunch losing no time to most of our GC competitors but scoring no points on the stage.

The fourth and final stage was a Hill Climb (more of a slightly uphill time trial). I finished joint third. This placed me 11th on GC as the first rider from Loughborough. A good point scoring weekend.

24.06.2018 – VCV Summer RR – The Crash

A very selective course that I knew would be a good opportunity for me to come away with good points. It was a very hard race with a relatively difficult climb up to the finish line that makes it quite selective.

With just half a lap to go the rider in front of me went down leaving me nowhere to go except over the bars. I hit the ground and was out of the race.

After going to A&E I found out that I had separated my ACJ, putting me out and off the bike for 4 weeks.

Definitely the worse part of my season which was quite hard to take as I was in the best form I have ever been in when the crash happened.

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28.07.2018 – Ride Sussex RR – 17th

My first race back after the crash with the sole aim of getting around and to see where my legs were at. I struggled all race but got around and even managed to open up a sprint at the end to pick up 17th, just outside the points.

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01.08.2018 – Portsmouth Circuits – 1st

A 45 minute race around the outdoor track in Portsmouth. I was just rolling through and hanging on all race.

With only 15 of us racing it wasn’t a particular big bunch but with 4 laps to go someone attacked; I followed their wheel and as they swung off I put the hammer down a little. I then looked over my shoulder and realised the other rider had swung back onto my wheel and the bunch had all sat up.

I put my head down and rode to the line to win by half a lap. A great way to come back from my month off.

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05.08.2018 - SL Crawley Wheelers RR – DNF

A day where my legs just said no. I hung onto the back of the lumpy course for a lap but the second time we hit the bergs I was spat out of the back and rode around to the feed zone to help hand out bottles to Jack.

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07.08.2018 – Thruxton Round 8 – DNF

A race where I felt fairly strong I just made the wrong tactical decisions.

A large break of about 10 got off the front and it felt clear that they were gone and going to contest the points. I chipped off the front solo to try and bridge to the move. I didn’t make it and ended up being spat out the back of the bunch never to be seen again. The break ended up coming back as they stopped working together. Just one of those races where you get it wrong.

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08.08.2018 – Portsmouth Evening Circuits #19 – 11th

Not much to report a fast and hard race as usual. I was slightly boxed in coming around on the final lap I had to open up my sprint early to try and make up the places. Just missing out on any points this time around.

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14.08.2018 – Thruxton Round 9 – Race Abandoned

A really enjoyable race where I made the right decisions at the right time. I was in a large move of 8 or so with all the other strongest riders in the race. We were rolling around smoothly and holding a decent gap to the bunch.

A very unfortunate incident occurred in the 3rd Cat race requiring an air ambulance so racing was stopped a few laps early. Luckily there were no lasting injuries for the riders involved!

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15.08.2018 – Portsmouth Evening Circuits #20 – 9th

Another full gas 45mins of racing. A break of 6 took a lap on the bunch which I unfortunately missed. I took third in the bunch kick placing me 9th and giving me a point.

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19.08.2018 – Abingdon Race Team RR – Outside the top 15

I’m not sure of my final finishing position but annoyingly it was outside the points.

I felt fairly strong all race but I just couldn’t get the right move to work at the right time. Anytime I tried to chip away people would follow then not pull through, a very frustrating one. Especially as I had chosen to race this instead of going to the regional champs as I felt more likely to score points.

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22.08.2018 – Portsmouth Evening Circuits #21 – 6th

Off the line a group of 4 very strong riders took a lap on the main field. As they came up behind naturally they tried to pull over the top us to take another lap and catch everyone napping.

I was more than ready for this tactic but surprisingly everyone else in the bunch seemed fairly switched on and the break was shut down quickly. That basically left those 4 marking the main bunch so no one got a lap back and the main bunch marking those 4 making it impossible to get away.

As the 4 lap to go sign went up 2 attacked off the front and slipped away opening up a reasonable gap quickly that they would have to hold to the line to claim 5th and 6th. As we came around for 3 to go I attacked hard off the front catching one of the escapees with a lap to go. Knowing we would stay away from the bunch I sat on and opened up my sprint 150m out to take 6th. (No Pics but a nice bike).

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Belgium

Jack and I had made plans to go to Belgium for a short 3 day trip in which we would race twice.

On our first day we decided to go for a little pre race spin and thought a trip to the Kemmelberg would be ideal. Taking in the iconic cobbled climb was just what we needed before our first experience of racing abroad.

Our second day was our first race day. It was a flat 100km race in Oordegem with a finish on a short very lightly cobbled rise.

I knew it was going to be flat out from the gun so Jack and I made sure to be right at the front on the start line.

Sprinting out from the line I was positioned well for the first lap so I could race from the front and take in the first lap of the circuit as we had not been able to do a recce of the course. A few laps in a strong break opened up a reasonable gap. I was coping riding in the bunch but didn’t have the legs to really hit off the front whilst Jack was up there really contesting and trying to get away.

Our Flemish let us down as at the 90km mark unbeknown to us they had called our last lap early due to the break opening up a large gap. We came in at towards the back of the main bunch but all in all a great experience and a master class in railing 90 degree left hand corners.

Our third and last day was our second race day. It was taking place just a 5 minute drive from where we were staying so after a lazy morning we made it to the race start.

It was an absolutely disgusting day with extremely heavy rain. Having been warned the day before that Belgians couldn’t corner in the wet it was playing on my mind.

The very first corner two riders in front of me went down leaving a gap for me to close to get back on to the small bunch ahead. I chased for a lap but just as I was getting back on another rider went down on the same corner as the previous lap and I decided to call it a day. It was playing on my mind massively and I really didn’t fancy and end of season Belgian get down.

Jack went on to take a very creditable 15th with only 2 riders actually riding full race distance.

02.09.2018 – John Holman Memorial Race – 14th

A race that I had set my sights way back in July after the crash as one where I wanted to back to full fitness.

I wouldn’t say I was fully back however the legs did feel good. It was a course that particularly suited me however I gave it a good crack.

I rode an aggressive race but was another one where I couldn’t get the right people to follow. It came down to a very sketchy bunch sprint with a fast descent into a 90 degree left hander about 400m from the line. During the descent there were people all over the other side of the road going into oncoming cars causing carnage as they tried to force their way to the front. Not what I had been getting used to in Belgium on the completely closed roads.

I came across the line in 14th having wiggled my way up the left hand side of the bunch.

Not quite the end of season I had hoped for but after a two week break to go to Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Zanzibar I feel ready and rested for another strong winter of training to really attack next season from the get go. I’d like to thank everyone from Norwood Paragon who supported me this year, in particular Jack and Austyn.

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