We must admit, we were all too aware of our inexperience as 'UCI staff' when working in the pits for Gosse van der Meer yesterday. For a start, it was just Ollie there, as Stan & Dan were both out battling the course and the other riders. You'd think just having a dedicated pit crew, even if just one person, was a pretty special thing (it's certainly something we don't see at the London X League), however Ollie was surrounded by teams with up to 4 pit crew per rider! Paired with the fact that we couldn't get our pressure washer to start, and Ollie was sliding around the washing area in some Adidas Spezials asking to borrow other teams' water... we well and truly took on the role of 'plucky underdog' at the sixth and final round of the National Trophy in Shrewsbury this weekend.
This, frankly, made the taste of victory all the sweeter as Gosse rode the entire field off his wheel, to secure his second ever UCI win and his first in Europe. He faced stiff competition in the form of Neon Velo riders Ian Field & Yorben van Tichelt, with the three riders forming a trio early in the race. Young talent Dan Tullet lead the chasing field, but there was no coming back. Yorben told Gosse on the start line that he had been suffering from a stomach bug (dating back 2 years to a trip to China) but looked to be capable of matching Gosse on the day until a crash put him out of contention. Van Tichelt eventually crossed the line in 11th. This left our man to duke it out with the legend that is Ian Field, who was clad in the National Trophy Series leaders' jersey and wanted to finish with a bang. Anecdotally, Ian was just 1 place ahead of Gosse in the UCI rankings as the riders lined up to start. He's not anymore!
Around 35 minutes into the race, Field experienced a front puncture and was forced to ride some of the lap on this, before swapping bikes in the pits. Gosse turned the screw, and quickly opened a gap of around 15 seconds. However, even when Field was back on a fully functional bike, the gap simply continued to expand. The final gap as the riders crossed the line was around 20 seconds, but had risen as high as 28, marking the end of a pretty good weekend all things considered. Here's what Gosse had to say on the race & the trip...
"I've been to a lot of places all over the world far away but I've never been over to the neighbours in England.
The Hunt guys got me over here to race in Shewsbury. I'd been also racing last Wednesday in Switzerland, so with that race and the traveling in the legs I wasn't really sure what to expect. I knew Ian Field would be racing (together with his teammate Yorben van Tichelt) and that they could have a small home advantage. The first lap would be really important, because it wasn't easy to overtake everywhere. Straight from the gun I was the second rider in the first turn, and stayed calm and kept my head in the game. The rider who took the holeshot slipped out of the first corner so I was in front straight away.
First lap I always go full gas and when I passed the finish line the first time I had a small gap. In the second lap Yorben closed the gap on me and he waited for Field to return so they would be together in the front. I tried to keep the pace up but Ian Field managed to come back, so at the 4th lap we were with three guys in front. I kept in the second wheels and try to save as much energy as possible, with three laps to go I was together with Yorben and Ian had a small gap behind us.
From the moment it looked like Yorben had blew himself up I attacked on a technical of camber section. It was three laps to go and I knew there was no turning back. I kept pushing with all I got and managed to keep opening up the gap with Ian Field until I had 28 seconds in the last lap. Then I was riding without any risks anymore and give him 8 seconds back and won the race with 20 seconds in front of Ian.
This first trip over to England turned out to be a really good one for me and I am already looking forward to come back racing here!
The organisation was really good for me and the crowd cheered hard for me which is always a special feeling when you ride so far away from home."
Oh, and by the way... our pit woes never played a part in the race, as Gosse smashed the whole thing on the same bike he started with. Talk about impressive.
As is always the case, we'd love to go on about how much fun we had, but really this whole undertaking with Gosse has been about developing the ultimate cyclocross wheelset, which we're thrilled to tell you will be available for order in the coming months (and definitely arriving in time ahead of the 2019/20 season). We've found his feedback invaluable to the development process, and creating wheels that will win at the highest level is always what we strive to achieve.
Until then, enjoy some photos shot by Ollie. Unfortunately we only have 'before the race' and 'after the race' shots, as during the race he was practising his mud-sliding skills and trying his hardest to look like he knew what he was doing.