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Planet X at the National Championship Road Race Lincoln

Heralded as the top one day event of the British Cycling calendar and with recent winners including Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish, Gerriant Thomas and Peter Kennaugh, the National Championship Road Race is an important fixture for any British cyclist and spectator alike. With a number of high profile cyclists returning to the UK compete against domestic teams, the winner of Sunday’s race could be seen wearing the British National Champions jersey for the entirety of the Tour de France, which begins next week.

The women's race will start at 10.00 am and cover one lap of a 28 mile country loop around the West Lindsey District Council area followed by 4½ lpas of the 8 mile Lincoln Grand Prix town circuit for a total distance of 67 miles (107 Kms) including 5 climbs of the 1 in 6 cobbled Michaelgate.

The men's race will start at 11.30 am and cover 2 laps of the country circuit and 8½ laps of the Lincoln Grand Prix town circuit for a total distance of 123.5 miles (197.6 Kms) and 9 climbs of Michaelgate.

As part of the activities surrounding Sunday’s road race Planet X will have a stand in Lincoln city centre next to the big screen, where you can watch all action from the men’s road race, located near to the final circuit of the men’s and women’s road race. We welcome you to come along and see our great selection bikes, which we will have on display, and will be on call to answer any cycling related questions you might have.

Planet X is also proud to support Sandra Mackay and Nicola Soden, who will be racing in the women’s road race, for Team Carnac-Planet X. Along with our Planet X sponsored Elite Level team Zappi’s Pro Cycling will also be participating in the men’s road race fielding a team of Under 23 riders. In the build up to Sunday’s race we caught up with Flavio Zappi, ex pro cyclist and Zappi’s Pro Cycling mentor, to discuss the importance of the National Championships and how his mentoring has prepared the young team of riders for some tough racing this Sunday.

 

You have been running Zappi's Pro Cycling for the last five years or so, offering young British cyclists an amazing opportunity to develop as pro cyclists, how have you seen this develop into the team that will be racing this weekend?

I don’t think the team that’s going to race this weekend has the best opportunity this year. The reason why is that the most of our races are harder races. When I say harder, I mean there is more climbs and more challenging courses. This year the National Championship course is ideal for fast punchy riders, therefore my boys who are lightweight and not used to this kind of race are going to find it a little more difficult.

Anyway I try to do my best in terms of trying to give them a better opportunity so that’s why I took the boys to Belgium recently and in Portugal they did a lot of training on the cobbles. So hopefully we can still save our face, some of the team are a little less climber and more punchy riders, I’m talking about riders like James Newey, Scott Auld, James Locker and Callum Furguson.

 

So the training in Belgium and Portugal has put the team in good shape for the repeat climbs of the classic Michaelgate cobbled climb in Sundays race?

Yeah, but don’t forget the rest of the course is practically flat. I know that because I raced it before. The climb is no big deal, its actually after the climb that everything comes into place. So Very important to start the climb in a very good position, go over the top and then stay with the all the other riders in the front group because that’s where normally the race splits up.

 

The national championships has been growing into an iconic international cycling event, with numerous globally recognised cyclists participating each year. How important is it for Zappi's Pro Cycling to be participating in this years event? 

Massively because its an opportunity to show everyone in the British Cycling Federation the big job that we are doing in Europe, in terms of developing the boys in every kind of course, from alpine climbing to cobble racing in Belgium, racing 200km at a 50km average, big 200 guy sprints, we do everything. Because I’m not interested in the boys winning a race now, I want them to learn everything so if they make it as a pro they have got a background and skills in all the areas they need, which is very important.

 

I think that’s a very important thing you do for the team and I read in an article about you that  you have a bit of a dissatisfaction with what the British Road Racing Scene provides young cyclists and that’s why you feel its so important to take them over to Europe to train and compete.

I am more worried that the British races are on open roads. I’ve witnessed the dangers of this first hand with one of the boys that was supposed to join my team 3 years ago. He decided not to come because he had to help out his Dad with the family business and then unfortunately died in a UK road race. Now for me that was a verification of my worries and I can’t invest and develop a you cyclist who is racing in open road traffic for this reason. That’s the first issue. The second issue is that unfortunately most of the races are only under 20km and you know its not enough. These are the major issues, I want a more varied selection of courses. Most of the races in England are rolling courses, very windy or totally flat. The boys need to be able to climb, even Cavendish to win Milan San Remo has to go through Cipressa and the Poggio, you know its one of those things, and we know Cavendish developed his career in Italy when he was young, so for me its very important for the boys to have this experience, which they can’t get in the British races.

 

What preparations have Zappi’s Pro Cycling been making for this years national championships in Lincoln?

Well as I said we spent some time in Belgium to do some Kermesses and in between Kermesses we went to climb the Koppenberg, just to get used to the feel of a 20% cobbled climb. Unfortunately it wasn’t raining, its unlikely to be on Sunday, which would be absolutely perfect, but as I say in the early season, when we were in Portugal, we had the opportunity to train on wet cobbles as well, so they will be aware of that and how to cope. What we are not aware about is the opponents we’ll be racing against on Sunday, the opponents we have been racing through the season are people in our age group, as you know in Italy, or anywhere in Europe, UCI races are always Under 23 or Under 26. The weekend we will be racing with 30-35 year old guys, so that is a very big difference for us, obviously. If you have a climbing race where there is a lot of mountains then we can bridge the age difference much better, on a flat style race like this weekend its going to be a little bit more difficult.

 

Which Zappi riders have the strongest chance this weekend?

Well James Newey is our big boy, whose proven to be strong on the flat courses, he came 4th last year in the Stafford Kermesse at 19 years of age, by the way all my boys are between 18, 19 and 20, just to give you an idea that they are at the very beginning of their amateur career. Other than him we’ve got James Owen, James Locker and Scott Auld who came second last year at the junior version of the Lincoln Grand Prix.

 

So he knows the course pretty well?

He knows the course, he showed himself to be very good at the cobbles when we were training in Portugal, despite the fact he was only 18, he’s always up there with the pro guys. So he’s a natural talent for this kind of race.

 

The team will be riding on their Planet X RT-90's how have the team found riding these bikes this season?

The RT-90 is a frame I know very well, it’s lightweight, perfect overall, It wouldn’t be the first choice for an aerodynamic sprinter, but in terms of ability to cope with sprints as long as you have nice deep section wheels that solves 99% of the problems. Its fantastic on climbs and very responsive riding out of corners, so its perfect for overall road racing in my point of view and I do like it a lot.

25 June 2015