Just a brief round-up of how the riders fared last year, with many thanks to all in the club who contributed to their progress.
The stand-out rider was Jack Stanton-Warren, who continued his excellent progress from 2016. Jack gained promotion to elite status, the highest category in the rankings, effectively making him one of the top 100 riders in the UK. Along the way he scored back-to-back wins in one weekend in June in the Battle of the Braes road race in Central Scotland on the Sunday and the Caithwaite Road Race in Cumbria on the Sunday.
Other highlights for Jack included 40th at the national championships in the Isle of Man, where he was competing against Tour de France riders such as Mark Cavendish and Steve Cummings, as well as eighth overall in the Tour of the North International three-day in Northern Ireland, where he led the best young rider’s competition for one of the three days.
He also completed three of the Premier Calendar series events, which are the UK’s toughest and most select one-day races: the Saltburn Grand Prix, the Tour of the Reservoir and the Rydedale GP. In the latter race, he finished 22nd, proving, as he did in the Isle of Man, that he is now capable of competing with the very strongest riders in the UK.
In mid-August he made a two-week trip to Belgium to compete in four races (together with Patrick Fotheringham) and came close to winning two of those; such rapid adaptation is a massive achievement as Belgian amateur racing is considered the toughest in Europe.
Jack also finished third in the West Mids Regional road race championship on a tough Shropshire course involving five climbs of Stiperstones, where he was beaten by two seasoned professionals from the Metaltek-Kuota team. In that event, our other star performer of 2017, Matt Clarke, finished in 10th – apart from the Metaltek pros we were the only team to get two riders in the top 10 in this event, showing our strength in depth.
“Clarkie” joined the team in May having got over a long-term knee injury and went on to score strong wins in the Wyre Forest road race near Stourport at the end of June, and the Severn Valley National B road race at Bridgnorth a few weeks later. He was also outsprinted by a tyres-width in the Worcester Trophy road race in early August. In these latter two “National B” events, he was competing against full-time professionals.
He ended the season three points short of gaining promotion to first-category, and was within one point of winning the season-long West Midlands Road Race League – quite an achievement for a rider who began his season so late.
Nick Clayton progressed strongly from his first season, 2016, finishing third in the prestigious Billy Jones Memorial Race, a national hard track endurance series event held on the Halesowen track in June, and taking seventh overall in the Newry 3-Day in late June, placing seventh on the first stage.
Patrick Fotheringham raced prolifically in 2017, and reserved his best rides for the Newry 3-Day where he finished eighth and second on the two toughest stages, ably supporting Nick on the other, and finishing 12th overall. He also rode well against elite and first category opposition at the Castle Combe series in Wiltshire, gaining two fifth places, and showed his ability to contest National B events, finishing three. He also took himself off to Belgium to race for five weeks and performed creditably in this tough arena.
Tom Swingler was unfortunate to suffer two major crashes and a bout of illness during the season; his second crash, at the Tour of Sussex in early July, left him with a severe collarbone fracture that ended his season. He was racing again in a low-key way in September and is raring to be back in 2018. Of our other members, Izzy Whiteley continued to experiment with the transition to track sprinter this year, while we lost Joe Hobbs for much of the season due to new-found work commitments.
On a team basis, we experimented with a training weekend in the Peak District in February, which was invaluable for building morale and strength – and had more than acceptable weather - where the riders received a boost with support from John Herety, the manager of the UK’s leading domestic pro team, JLT-Condor.
The team competed in three stage races during the season: at the Tour of the North over Easter; as well as Jack’s eighth place overall, Nick Clayton and “guest” rider Sam Tillett finished in the top 35 overall, with Patrick also completing a tough course which saw a fifth of the field drop out. We finished a rider in the first five on all three road race stages, making the winning escape on each day. We have been invited back in 2018, which is a tribute to the way the riders performed in a tough international event.
At the Newry 3-Day, Nick and Patrick travelled independently to the event, and both rode strongly as detailed above; at the Tour of Sussex four-day in mid-July, the team’s race was ruined by the crash detailed above to Tom Swingler, after which his three team mates had to wait by the roadside until first-aid arrived. It’s one that will go down as “character-building”!
For 2018, Jack Stanton-Warren will move on to the Wheelbase team to further his career. We will, however, retain Matt Clarke, who will follow Jack into the Premier Calendar and National A races. Nick, Patrick, Izzy and Tom will also be riding for us again, and we will add James Phaysey – a strong young rider who joined Halesowen this year – Henry Lloyd-Langston, a talented under-16 who has come up through the club’s youth system, and another under-16 Daniel Morris who moves over from Wolverhampton.
We would also like to thank our sponsors in 2017, Wenlock Spring, OTE nutrition, ProVision clothing, and BRC publishing, all of whom remain with us in 2018, when they are joined by Epic Cycles.
The academy has proved its worth as a way of encouraging riders within the club to road race, and we look forward to more of our under-16 riders moving up to join us in 2019. If any riders or parents have any questions please contact William Fotheringham on this email: