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Inside the Ride: Canyon-DHB p/b Bloor Homes take on the world’s best at Tour De Yorkshire

PRO BIKE TOOL are proud to be partnering with the UK's leading Continental race team, Canyon DHB-p/b Bloor Homes.

As part of our partnership, PRO BIKE TOOL are providing Canyon DHB-p/b Bloor Homes with all the tools they could possibly need, stocking both their service course and the rider’s jersey pockets and home workshops with our range of essential equipment.

In May, the team raced in one of the UK’s leading events, the Tour De Yorkshire – a four-day stage race that drew WorldTour (the top level in professional cycling) teams Ineos, Katusha-Alpecin, CCC, and Dimension Data, with multiple Grand Tour winner Chris Froome, sprint sensation Mark Cavendish, and Olympic Gold medallist and winner of Paris-Roubaix Greg Van Avermaet among the riders taking to the start line.

The Tour De Yorkshire

The Tour De Yorkshire is famed for the crowds it attracts, with locals and bike-enthusiasts from around the UK lining the streets all along the course, making for scenes typically only witnessed in the very biggest of races, such as the Tour de France or World Championships. Unfortunately in 2019, the race also attracted the bad weather, with the first stage being held in non-stop heavy rain, and stages two and three being raced through block headwinds and further periods of near-torrential rain. It was only on the fourth stage that the riders were given some respite from conditions that were making the race all that bit harder.

The first two stages were a great success for Canyon-DHB p/b Bloor Homes. On stage one Jacob Hennessy took the King of the Mountains jersey – that which is awarded to the best climber in the race – and retained it through stage two, while Tom Stewart made a day-long breakaway and won intermediate sprints on stage two.   

The team were however bitten by bad luck in stage three, where the team was shorn of several riders through illness – a result of the bad conditions in the race – and the surviving riders failing to make the key groups when crosswinds shattered the peloton. The race ended on a bright note however, with Max Stedman finishing in 16th place on stage 4, finishing in a small group dominated by WorldTour riders. We spoke with three of the riders, Max Stedman, Tom Stewart, and Rob Mccarthy about their experience.

Do you have a highlight moment from the race?

MAX

The crowds were amazing, I can’t imagine that many races that could
match that. Some stages of the grand tours, or the classics in Belgium
maybe, but for a smaller race like this, it’s incredible.

No matter what the weather was, people were out in the towns and it was three deep all the way through. The whole community was involved and treated it like a holiday rather than just a bike race passing through their
streets.

Riding up Otley Chevin [the iconic climb rising out of Otley] on stage 4 with the crowds forming a tunnel up the road and screaming encouragement was probably the closest I’ll get to that Alpe d’Huez feeling.

ROB

You go up the climbs and hear a wall of noise, and people are three or four deep, lining the roads, and even though the weather was grim and the first stages were on working days, it didn’t stop people coming out.

The crowds really helped get me home on that day when I was out the back of the race. Even when I was 15 minutes behind, they were still out there, cheering me on and supporting me. Even when you’re dropped, cold and wet, having people shouting you on puts a smile on your face and reminds you that it’s not really that bad, and makes you think what a cool experience it is.

TOM

It’s something you can’t manufacture, you can’t buy, you can’t fake. We’re so fortunate as bike riders in this country to be able to experience that, no one else can do that – millionaires can’t go and buy that. I always tell teammates that too, that racing in those crowds, through towns where it’s five deep, is something really special.

I was in the breakaway on stage 2, which was a special experience, especially as we went straight past my sister’s house, and her and her kids were stood outside. Being in the break meant I was able to give them a wave. It’s really special to be able to take in the numbers of people at the side of the road. You see so much more when you’re in the break and you can make eye-contact with people – whereas that’s not possible in the bunch.

Are there any lowlights?

ROB

Stage 1 was really cold and wet, and we were racing through a lot of farm tracks, so there was a lot of animal muck on the roads, and that ends up all over you from the spray in the roads. I don’t think I’ve ever been that cold in a bike race in my life, and it was a long stage too.

But stage 3 was perhaps worse for me. I was starting to get ill, and was starting to feel pretty empty. I got dropped with 50km to go and had to ride it out on my own. I finished 20 minutes down, last man on the road. The last stretch was super-windy and hilly and I was just crawling. I’d been on the rivet all stage so I was just blowing in those final 50km.

What was it like riding in that weather?

MAX

It was horrendous, possibly the worst conditions I’ve ever raced in. I’ve probably done one-day races as bad, but never a stage race that’s been that bad day after day. Every day when we woke up and checked the forecast to see more rain, a little bit of me died. I was so cold I weed myself twice on stage 1, to keep warm. Our DHB clothing is great, but nothing can keep you warm in four hours of that.

How was it to share the roads with cycling legends like Chris Froome, Mark Cavendish, and Greg Van Avermaet?

MAX

I’ve looked up to these guys at some point when I’ve been watching racing, so it’s always cool to be racing with them, and feels a step up. However, you also just think of them as another guy there racing their bike.

At the end of the day, you need to remember that you’re all there to win the bike race and have all trained hard to be where you are, so you can’t give too much respect to these guys or you’d have no chance.

ROB

I’ve raced with WorldTour guys a few times, and it is always quite a cool experience. However when you’re in there, in the bunch with them, you don’t really think about it that much, you just try to get on with your own race.

They’re just another guy in the bunch doing their thing. It’s more when you watch the race back on TV and you see these big names that you think about it more.

TOM

It’s cool to race with the WorldTour guys, but it doesn’t really change anything in the race. They’ve still got to get from A to B like anyone else. They have no advantage over us in terms of what they’ve got to do on that day, and they’re going to suffer in the race just the same as we are. It’s not their race to lose, which is what some people seem to think.

What's coming next for you and the team?

ROB

I’ll be racing the European Games in June, then the National Championships, and of course the Tour of Britain, if we qualify. We’ve got such a great programme with the team that there’s loads of opportunity and lots of great races all through Belgium and France. In August alone we have 11 high-level races.

TOM

I’m not 100% sure of my schedule. We have a lot more qualifying rounds to go through for the Tour of Britain, which takes priority for the team, and we’ve got a lot of good races in the next month in Belgium – but I’ll have to see how the legs are and how the qualification process goes.

MAX

We have a tour in the Alsace (France) coming up that I’m hoping to be involved in, and we may be going to the new race at Mont Ventoux, which, as a climber, I’d love to be involved with. I’ll also be racing the National Championships.

Check out bottom right of the bonnet!

And lastly, what's the relationship of sponsors to the team, and what impact do they have?

TOM

The sponsors keep the team going financially. The financial model of professional cycling leaves teams completely dependent on sponsors and so of course that makes them extremely important. In my experience though the more of a relationship between the team and a sponsor, the better the sponsorship works.

Several of our sponsors – such as PRO BIKE TOOL – are companies that produce cycling products and as riders we are able to get involved with product development and feedback. Sharing ideas like that is fun and can be very rewarding for both the sponsor and the rider. It’s a side of the job I enjoy.

MAX

Sponsors are really important as they keep us on the road with both financial backing and product – whether that be tools, bikes, kit etc. As such they’re totally vital to us.
Also to me, I want to see the sponsors get the most out of what they’re investing, at the end of the day the team is used as a way to advertise the company or brand, so it’s our job as riders to make sure that’s happening be that on social media or on and around the road.

We’ve had sponsors in the past who put in money, but never really engage with us or do much with the team to boost the team and brand, so I think team and sponsor engagement is vital. And it’s interesting for me as a rider to learn about sponsors and what they do and how we can benefit each other.

So, lots going on for these guys! The future is bright for Canyon DHB-p/b Bloor Homes, and we’re stoked to be their official tool partner. Wishing the whole team good luck and strong legs for the rest of the season!

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