By Jamie Riggs
Included as part of the pre-World Championships preparation program the CCA organized for the U23 men this year, was the chance for 2 of us to ride the Olympic test event (technically the London-Surrey Cycle Classic), alongside Canadian elite riders Christian Meier, Dominique Rollin and David Veilleux.
The selection was made after our first European stage race, the Tour de Namur, where I rode well enough to earn my selection. So the day after Namur ended, off to London I went, along with Stuart Wight, the other U23 selected.
The race itself was quite a surreal experience. The start and finish was on The Mall, right in front of Buckingham Palace. Standing on the start line it started to sink in what a chance I had been given.
Beside me were Tom Boonen, Tyler Farrar, Mark Cavendish, Heinrich Haussler, Stuart O’Grady and many more of the worlds top pros.
The start was relatively calm, two local riders broke away in the opening kilometers and we settled into a steady tempo with the US riding the front. The course was about 40km through London out to the circuits in Surrey.
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The circuits had a pretty good 3k climb, which we covered twice, in the Olympics they will tackle it 9 times, and a technical descent. Then 40k back to The Mall for the finish.
It is not overstating it at all to say that the entire 40k out and back was lined a few deep with people, and on the climb they were packed in even more densely. I heard from someone after the race that there were an estimated 250,000 people out to watch.
The first time up the climb the filed went steadily, with everyone staying together on the descent. The second time however, the Italian team hit the front and drove it very hard.
Unfortunately for me coming over the top in the scramble for position before the descent, there was a crash, which took me down, along with Haussler and Boonen. It was not serious, I got up quickly and set off to chase.
Boonen and Haussler both came by me like freight trains, and with the caravan held up behind the crash my group had no help getting back. We chased with everything we had, but the race was well and truly on, with the Brits determined to bring the race back together for Cav.
Despite never getting back to the main field, it was again an incredible experience to ride through London and past Buckingham Palace. There was another huge crash with 3k to go in the main field, bringing down most of the Canadians who were left. Disappointing results, but experiences I will never forget!
If you would like to make a donation to help support my trip to Tour l’Avenir and World Championships, this would help alleviate some of the financial burden and that would be appreciated. This trip to represent our country is completely self-funded for U23 athletes. I am always looking for supporters who want to help me continue chasing my dreams.
Please contact me at email@example.com.
Jamie Riggs is a cyclist from Manotick, Ont.