Lambeke

In 2016, Mansfield’s Ross Lamb was the first-season icing on a very pleasing cake for Bryan Steel’s fledgling youth development squad, the Godfrey Bikewear Race Team sponsored by Vision Express. Relatively new to cycling after coming to the sport as part of a rehab program after a footballing injury with Notts County FC, Ross stormed through the squad’s race program with a host of domestic scene wins and podiums. Ross seamlessly translated these UK performances into foreign prize money with more of the same when the team ventured across the Channel to the cycling heartlands of France and Belgium. The boy was turning heads. The result was a contract with United Cycling Team for the 2017 campaign, Dave Rayner funding and a degree of head-scratching for Mr Steel when it came to how he was going to tackle that second-season difficult second album – minus Ross.
Ciclissimo! caught up with Ross ahead of the Ronde Van Oost Vlaanderen stage race to talk about how things are panning out over in Flanders. Many have made the trip and many have seen hopes and dreams mercilessly dashed against the grey granite walls of the village churches the Flemish love to Kermesse around: Not so Ross. Whilst collating his palmares-to-date in order to get this article together he was having to send weekly updates of further placings and podiums. This has been far from a case of a Lamb to the slaughter…
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Photo Credits: Roland Pipeleers courtesy of Ross Lamb

Ciclissimo! You were the dream start to the Bryan Steel development team project – he stated from day-one that the aim was to see a rider get over to Europe and embark on a career: That rider turned out to be you in the squad’s first season!

Ross Lamb It was a great year and I pay a lot of thanks to Bryan Steel and Mick Padley who helped put it all together. Before last season had begun I’d sat down with Mick and we both basically looked at each other and said I need to get over to Belgium again because that was, and still is, the only chance I’d have really of making cycling my life. We had seen what other people of my age were doing and realised that I needed to get over there and give myself a chance. It all happened pretty rapido when I was in Belgium – from one day winning a race to the next being asked if I wanted to join the team I’m riding for now. Undoubtedly, the results I got made people ask who am I sort of thing, 1st through to 5th I think I managed, which made a couple of teams ask what I was doing contract-wise. Ingrid Sels (Soigneur for Norwegian National squad on many occasions – Ed), one of the kind ladies we met, basically sorted the ride out for me. She mentioned my name and results to Team Manager Johan Remels and it was as easy as that.

C! The team being…?

RL I’ll be riding for United Cycling Team. They’re a Topcompetition level team based out of Sint Truiden

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C! So, the deal is sorted, you’re moving from North Notts over to Flanders to race in one of, if not the, most fabled school of bike racing hard-knocks – was there a moment when you sat there and thought “Shit Just Got Real…”

RL  I wouldn’t say there was a particular moment that made me think ‘shit just got real’ but training all winter with Sam Smith made sure I never forgot of how hard it was going to be! The guy never stops talking! (laughs!) No, I mean from my previous trips to Belgium I’d only ever experienced the highs of summer and 35 degrees so I guess my first team race was a bit of an eye opener – though not unexpected. It was my first ever race in the wet, I eventually got taken out on a cobbled climb… My time in Belgium opened up my eyes to what I can see myself doing for a long time not only because of the riding but also the place where I stay too, Cafe sur Place, there’s a little community that I’d never even thought existed.

C! How was it settling in to a new country?

RL First feelings where like I’d not really left from my previous time here the season before – properly excited though, I’d been waiting since the end of last season to come back. Plus my new Ridley Fenix SL & Bioracer kit was waiting! I knew before that this was exactly where I should be and I couldn’t have found a better place to be staying. There wasn’t much time to bed in though: After arriving late in Flanders on the 18th there was a race the very next day so I was quickly into it again with no time to think. I guess I just got on with it. I attacked literally off the line ‘cos my mate Adam Lewis was like “Quick, Ross – attack as a joke!” – little did he know that he wouldn’t see the front group again, good laugh! First race, 4th; I was thinking “Yeah this ain’t too bad…” Took time after that one to get it right again though…

C! And there is the other side of settling in – what about the household chores when bicycle practice is done for the day? Can you even cook?

RL With the cooking its pretty good, there’s five of us living here from the Dave Rayner fund and we have a rota going so whoever cooks and then everyone else cleans up after. Regarding everyday cleaning it’s just a free for all – whoever is in the mood I guess!

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C! You’ve swapped the grippy old roads of Nottinghamshire for the concrete slabs and cobbles of Flanders – what are the favourite routes?

RL I’m living in a town called Veerle-Laakdaal, not too far away from Aarschot which hosts the start of Dwars Door Het Hageland, and I’ve just used most of the roads around there – mostly without knowing! Since I’ve been here I’ve not really had to train that much, it’s been more a case of filling in the gaps between races. Oh, and the odd visit to the old Albert Kanaal as and when it’s needed…

C! Albert Kanaal – I’m not sure if that’s some coarse-handed, gravely, Gauloise-voiced old Flemish Swanny or a towpath…

RL Yeah, it’s a canal path – like whenever Van Aert goes on the TT rig he’s there, you always see a few pros knocking about, Van Bilsen and the others. My favorite rides, although they will never suit me, have been the ones in the Ardennes at the beginning of the year. It reminds me so much of being at home in the Peak District. Incredibly hilly. I did the Triptyque Ardennais earlier in the year and Wow! The team only sent me looking for form because I was never going to do anything! (Laughs!) It’s on the border of Germany and Luxembourg, wicked scenery… Actually, that was probably my hardest moment so far for me, the Triptyque Ardennais. My team manager wanted to send me there to ‘finish off my form’ – add that little extra – and for sure it did but the pain during the race on some of the climbs was just… yeh something else.

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C! How about we contrast that with your best moment?

RL My best moment so far for sure has been the 3rd place at the Memorial Van Coningsloo, a UCI 1.2 Europe Tour event dedicated to the memory of a local amateur cyclist, Philippe Van Coningsloo, who suffered a heart attack and died during a cycling race back in 1992. I was agonizingly close to winning. It just felt mega being involved throughout a race like that.

C! How does the racing over in Belgium compare so far to the stuff you were doing in the UK?

RL That’s a difficult one that – because, after all, its just riding your bike as hard as you can when you need to and saving your energy when you can. But I’d say, in terms of tactics in the kermesses over here, it’s just being vigilant and waiting for the right guys otherwise it’ll never go. Back home, depending on the level, its more organised – or at least the Prems are – and teams will chase and stuff: Kermesses are just every man for themselves, teammates after each other all the time! I change gear and five others do too straight away sort of thing!

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C! That’ll probably be why that Lotto-Soudal guy in the pics here is watching you like a hawk! Have you seen him in? That one in the pics there?

RL The guy without glasses on? Gerban Thijssen – won Sint-Niklaas the other month, next Andre Greipel: You heard it here first!

Ross Lamb Palmares

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2016 – Godfrey Bikewear Race Team sponsored by Vision Express

1st Haasdonk
1st Fenland Clarion rr
1st Peterborough CC  rr
1st Bole Hill rr
2nd East Midlads Championship rr
2nd Danum Trophy rr
2nd De Klinge
3rd Zutendaal
4th Puurs
4th Coalville Wheelers rr
5th Hoeleden
6th GA Bennett
7th Darley Moor
2017 – United Cycling Team
1st Denderwindeke
2nd Zandhoven
2nd Booischot
2nd Huldenberg
2nd Linden-Lubeek
3rd Halen
3rd Memorial Philippe Van Coningsloo UCI 1.2
4th Heusden-Zolder
8th Betekom
9th Herne
10th Geel
11th Circuit de Wallonie UCI 1.2
13th GP Stad Sint-Niklaas UCI 1.2
Series/ Stage Races
7th Overall Topcompetitie
10 Overall GC Vlaams Brabant (7th St.1, 5th st.3)

Stagiaire! In The Middle Of America: Team Novo Nordisk’s Sam Brand At The Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah

Ciclissimo! is back on the road with Team Novo Nordisk, the world’s first all-diabetes pro cycling team, at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. We’ve be following the fortunes of  their new stagiaire, 25 year old Isle of Man native, Sam Brand. Sam had been making waves – most probably in the swim leg – on the National and European triathlon circuit (ignore my flippancy, silver in the 2015 British Championships is no joke) before switching solely to cycling for 2016. Already on the TNN radar after his strong tri’ results, Sam secured himself a place on their development squad and continued to impress. A mid-season call up to a hard fought, seven-day mountainous stage race debut with the Team Novo Nordisk full pro-squad was his reward. Ciclissimo! got the inside line each day from Sam throughout his journey through the Hollywood-Western ‘big country’ vistas of America’s mountain belt.

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Stage 7: Salt Lake City, 118km

Nippo-Vini Fantini’s Marco Canola caught Caja Rural – Seguros RGA’s constantly race-animating Benito napping and slipped through the inside in a wily yet textbook move on the final corner. Canola had followed Benito’s line-hunting solo foray from the final group that had formed after a typically pacey and attack laden crit’ finale around a rollercoaster of a Salt Lake City circuit. Canola kept the power on up the rise to the line and took the stage win in the State capitol with Rob Britton of Rally Cycling running out deserved GC victor after a staunch defence of the jersey since claiming it at the mid-race TT. Sam crossed the line with the needle pretty much on empty but with a smile on his face, deservedly so also, after a successful pro-race debut in a very testing arena indeed.

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Sam’s View

Ciclissimo! You just finished your first professional stage race and an incredibly hard one at that. How does it feel?

Sam Brand It feels amazing. I’m very, very happy; that was a tough day.

C! How did the day play out?

SB You could tell early on that it wasn’t going to be easy. There was no just sitting on. It took about three or four laps to start to go easier. I knew I was in it for a whole day of suffering, so I put my head down and ground it out.

C! What was the climb like?

SB Most of the time, it wasn’t neutral, but we started easy and you could go up with the group. As the race went on, it got harder and harder. Once I had noticeably less energy than at the start, it really started to feel harder each time.

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C! What were the final few laps like?

SB I was constantly trying to fight to move up, stay in my own rhythm and not let myself get distracted by everyone else. I knew as it got towards the second to the last lap that I had to stay in the group, but I really started to struggle. I got to the start of the final lap and just held on, held on, held on. On the final lap, I started to fall back and couldn’t hold on anymore.

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C! You start the Colorado Classic on Thursday. Being able to finish this race—does it give you more confidence than when you started Utah?

SB Absolutely. I’m just on a high that I get to do this as a job. I’m over the moon that I’ve had this opportunity. I’m going into every race with a smile on my face and excited to inspire, educate and empower everyone affected by diabetes!

All Photo Credits: VeloImages

Stagiaire! In The Middle Of America: Team Novo Nordisk’s Sam Brand At The Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah

Ciclissimo! is back on the road with Team Novo Nordisk, the world’s first all-diabetes pro cycling team, at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. We’ll be following the fortunes of  their new stagiaire, 25 year old Isle of Man native, Sam Brand. Sam had been making waves – most probably in the swim leg – on the National and European triathlon circuit (ignore my flippancy, silver in the 2015 British Championships is no joke) before switching solely to cycling for 2016. Already on the TNN radar after his strong tri’ results, Sam secured himself a place on their development squad and continued to impress. A mid-season call up to a hard fought, seven-day mountainous stage race debut with the Team Novo Nordisk full pro-squad is his reward. Ciclissimo! will be following Sam first-hand on this journey through the Hollywood-Western ‘big country’ vistas of America’s mountain belt.

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Stage 6: Heber Valley – Snowbird, 99km

Headlines from Stage 6 dispatches tell of Rally Cycling’s Rob Britton deftly policing his GC rivals up the final climb to defend his yellow jersey and Bardiani-CSF’s Giullio Ciccone disappearing into thin air with 5km to go to add a Tour of Utah stage victory to his home turf Giro D’Italia one. But here at Ciclissimo! it was all eyes on a pensive Sam Brand as he signed on for the Queen Stage of the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. 100km with two visits to just under 2500m above sea level awaited. “This is going to be brutal” quipped Fitzalan, Team Novo Nordisk’s Press Officer Deluxe. The young stagiaire was well into uncharted territory – but with the end tantalisingly within sight…

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Sam’s View

I was definitely more nervous for this stage than any of the others..  I think with it being the Queen Stage and with the GC still wide open, I was concerned that it would be a lot harder. I went back to the default that I’ve been doing—the more I get wound up, the more nervous I get. I tried to settle myself down before I got to the start line and remind myself that it could only be a few hours of suffering and I knew I could get through it.

When the racing began we actually went easy until the first climb with the break going at Kilometer Zero. Everyone was waiting for the climb. I knew that I needed to find a group with good riders, which I managed to do. I settled down in the first couple of kilometers. It was hard but it felt good.

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We crested the first climb and hit the descent –I t was all a bit nervy because a couple of guys went down ahead of us. It was single file with everyone taking their own line. The roads were narrow. It was just like being on the Isle of Man. I knew to just stay with the groups and we would all descend at the same speed. Onto the final climb up to Snowbird. I was feeling okay and knew that we had a decent size group with some strong riders. I stayed focused and calm and worked my way up. I tried to stay at the front of the group and kept telling myself to find a position that would benefit me. Completing the Queen stage so deep into the race was definitely a monkey off the back. I finished in a pack of about 30-40 riders. Coming into the race, I didn’t know what it would hold. The fact that I’ve made it this far and tomorrow is the final stage, it feels pretty fantastic. I’m very proud and hope I can do the same on the final stage.

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I’ve trained most of the season for circuit races in the United States, so I feel ready for it. My aim is to stay out of trouble and see how it all pans out. Hopefully we will be near the front and see what we can do…

All Photo Credits: VeloImages

 

 

 

Stagiaire! In The Middle Of America: Team Novo Nordisk’s Sam Brand At The Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah

Ciclissimo! is back on the road with Team Novo Nordisk, the world’s first all-diabetes pro cycling team, at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. We’ll be following the fortunes of  their new stagiaire, 25 year old Isle of Man native, Sam Brand. Sam had been making waves – most probably in the swim leg – on the National and European triathlon circuit (ignore my flippancy, silver in the 2015 British Championships is no joke) before switching solely to cycling for 2016. Already on the TNN radar after his strong tri’ results, Sam secured himself a place on their development squad and continued to impress. A mid-season call up to a hard fought, seven-day mountainous stage race debut with the Team Novo Nordisk full pro-squad is his reward. Ciclissimo! will be following Sam first-hand on this journey through the Hollywood-Western ‘big country’ vistas of America’s mountain belt.

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Stage 5: Layton – Bountiful, 185km

It was another aggressive, attritional day at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. The race was marred by a number of crashes before hitting the final two circuits of finish town, Bountiful. The lead group had been carved down to around 20 riders who proceeded to slug it out over the Bountiful Bench, a true Mur that saw numerous attacks launched in more of a cycling version of Russian Roulette than mere rolls of the dice. Those on the first passage were always doomed, Piccoli and Ciccone’s second passage assaults looked more promising but, in the end, neither could pull the trigger on the empty chamber that would let them escape to the line. Travis McCabe kept his sprinter’s powder dry and took a typically furious bunch-kick victory for United Healthcare Professional Cycling Team.

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Sam’s View

“Coming from yesterday and having not a super great day, I was conservative. I knew that today was a new day, so I went into it knowing that if I put Stage 4 behind me that it would be better for me. I tried to get a bit more confident as the day went on. For the first 30-40 kilometers, I felt good. Then there was a crash and I got caught behind it. Then I had to chase back on for the next 20-30 km, which put me in the box. That was tough and I spent the middle section not feeling great. In the end, I started feeling better and knew I could tackle the climbs…

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Usually, my motto to get myself up a climb is telling myself that I only have to do it once, but today we had to do it twice. I just set my own rhythm. I find getting up a climb at my own pace is the best way and I managed to do that. I found a group and worked with them and got up and over. The descents were definitely technical but everyone was aware of that and that made it safe and incident free. I feel like I had every emotion today. It started well and then I had a dip in the middle but then came back and finished strong. I remained focused on staying positive and gaining more experience.

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We have one more real climbing day. As I’ve said all week, tomorrow is a new day. I’m looking forward to it. I can’t be worried about it. I just need to go into and give it everything I’ve got. Having five stages under my belt helps with the confidence, definitely, 100%. Knowing that many guys crashed today and there are going to be a lot of guys suffering with me tomorrow helps. My plan is to put a smile on my face and I’ll get through it…”

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All Photo Credits: VeloImages

Stagiaire! In The Middle Of America: Team Novo Nordisk’s Sam Brand At The Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah

Ciclissimo! is back on the road with Team Novo Nordisk, the world’s first all-diabetes pro cycling team, at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. We’ll be following the fortunes of  their new stagiaire, 25 year old Isle of Man native, Sam Brand. Sam had been making waves – most probably in the swim leg – on the National and European triathlon circuit (ignore my flippancy, silver in the 2015 British Championships is no joke) before switching solely to cycling for 2016. Already on the TNN radar after his strong tri’ results, Sam secured himself a place on their development squad and continued to impress. A mid-season call up to a hard fought, seven-day mountainous stage race debut with the Team Novo Nordisk full pro-squad is his reward. Ciclissimo! will be following Sam first-hand on this journey through the Hollywood-Western ‘big country’ vistas of America’s mountain belt.

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Stage 4: South Jordan City, 199km

Stage 4 saw the race pelt through Tooele County in the hoof-steps of the old Pony Express, the fledgling band of intrepid mailmen that carried the mail throughout the wild west and would eventual become the mighty United States Postal Service of today. A useful looking break of six riders with a decent gap to the bunch rather inexplicably conspired to snatch defeat from the jaws of quite possible victory with around 40km to go. Holowesko/Citadel Racing P/B Hincapie Sportswear said “Why – Thank you, Ma’am!” and duly took their second bunch gallop victory with John Murphy. Team Novo Nordisk’s Fabio Calabria was in at the sharp-end and crossed the line with a nice top-ten place; Sam crossed the line knowing he’d been in a bike race…

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Sam’s View

It was a hard, fast day  – I struggled early on. Today was not my day. The first hour and a half was crazy. I don’t think the break went until 60-70 kilometers.  It was all about digging in and just knowing I was going to suffer. It was crazy. In the finale it was typical American crit-style, which I haven’t done many of this year, so it was a throwback into that type of racing. It was hard and I focused on sticking to a wheel as long as I could. I tried to move up and help Fabio and my teammates, but I don’t think I was much help in that. Basically, I ended up just trying to hold onto the group for as long as I could.

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It’s about keeping it together mentally – I knew that if I didn’t keep going that I would regret it. So basically it was all about accepting it is going to hurt and deciding you are okay with that.

It was super hot – There were times that the winds seemed to stop and it felt like you were burning alive. I kept reminding myself that it was the same for everyone. I actually do quite well in the heat, but today you could feel it really beating down on you. It was all about staying hydrated so you really needed to drink lots.

And now, time to recover – I need a nap. Today was tough and tomorrow is another today. I suffered through today, so hopefully that will be my advantage tomorrow. I hope I can turn it over and make it another successful day.

All Photo Credits: VeloImages

 

Stagiaire! In The Middle Of America: Team Novo Nordisk’s Sam Brand At The Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah

Ciclissimo! is back on the road with Team Novo Nordisk, the world’s first all-diabetes pro cycling team, at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. We’ll be following the fortunes of  their new stagiaire, 25 year old Isle of Man native, Sam Brand. Sam had been making waves – most probably in the swim leg – on the National and European triathlon circuit (ignore my flippancy, silver in the 2015 British Championships is no joke) before switching solely to cycling for 2016. Already on the TNN radar after his strong tri’ results, Sam secured himself a place on their development squad and continued to impress. A mid-season call up to a hard fought, seven-day mountainous stage race debut with the Team Novo Nordisk full pro-squad is his reward. Ciclissimo! will be following Sam first-hand on this journey through the Hollywood-Western ‘big country’ vistas of America’s mountain belt.

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Stage 3: Big Cottonwood Canyon ITT – 9km

Time trialling: Short, sharp, violent efforts. Do it properly and you’ll feel really quite ill at the end. There’s nowhere to hide. Even more so when racing on standard roadbike set-ups and the start ramp is situated at over 2000m above sea-level with 400m of constant vertical gain to deal with in front of you! Sam ticked off another day across the finish line and heads ever deeper into his pro debut with the mantra “Day by Day…”

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Sam’s View

“Even though I, as a ‘Tri-Guy’, was quite looking forward to using a TT bike it was completely the wrong course for a time trial bike. I was comfortable on my road bike, a Colnago CLX. It’s a fantastic bike that is a very comfortable ride. Some guys see the time trial as a rest day – I see it as another opportunity to prove myself and see how my legs are feeling. I gave it everything I had, paced well, and got stronger in the second half. As far as wattage and numbers go, it was the first time I’ve gotten to actually look at my numbers while racing. In general, this is the first time that I’ve raced at altitude, so I took that into consideration when it came to my power. I’m happy with how it went with my numbers. Obviously, it is my third day in the biggest race I’ve ever done, so I’m starting to feel the legs: At altitude, my recovery feels slower than normal. But, with the prestige of the race, the speed and size of this race, I think that plays a role in everything and helps. We go hard every day, but at the moment, I’d say it is all going well. Tomorrow is Stage 4 and considered a flat stage – it isn’t as flat as flat sounds with a dozen small climbs… Yet I’m reminding myself that it is the same for everyone. The more I get involved, the more I surprise myself. I’ll keep working hard and see what the day brings…”

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All Photo Credits: VeloImages

 

Stagiaire! In The Middle Of America: Team Novo Nordisk’s Sam Brand At The Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah

Ciclissimo! is back on the road with Team Novo Nordisk, the world’s first all-diabetes pro cycling team, at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. We’ll be following the fortunes of  their new stagiaire, 25 year old Isle of Man native, Sam Brand. Sam had been making waves – most probably in the swim leg – on the National and European triathlon circuit (ignore my flippancy, silver in the 2015 British Championships is no joke) before switching solely to cycling for 2016. Already on the TNN radar after his strong tri’ results, Sam secured himself a place on their development squad and continued to impress. A mid-season call up to a hard fought, seven-day mountainous stage race debut with the Team Novo Nordisk full pro-squad is his reward. Ciclissimo! will be following Sam first-hand on this journey through the Hollywood-Western ‘big country’ vistas of America’s mountain belt.

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Stage 2: Brigham City – Snowbasin Resort, 152km

The Tour of Utah does not meander slowly towards a crescendo: Stage 1’s sapping profile and sprint finish ballistics were followed up by stage 2’s saw-tooth mountain slog through the fantastically named Sardine Canyon, culminating with a mountain resort finish at Snowbasin – a 9km uphill TT is the charming completion to the opening 3 days on stage three 3… Stage 2 saw WorldTour squad BMC start to flex their fingers around the throat of the race with numerous salvos from Joey Rosskopf and a stage win from the highly fancied Brent Bookwalter. We caught up with Sam atop Snowbasin after he rolled in with team-mate and ‘Fan Favourite’ blue jersey wearer Steven Clancy , to get his thoughts on the vertiginous dust-up so far…

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Ciclissimo! Today was a summit finish and a very tough looking day in the race bible. Was it easier or harder than you expected?

Sam Brand “I don’t know actually. It was easier in some terms and harder in others. It went straight from the gun full gas up the first climb. We had driven the climb on the way into the start and we knew it was steep but it seemed steeper. It settled down after that. I knew the third climb would be a decisive one. I aimed to hold on and found myself in the second group, which quickly grew in numbers. It was nice to find my feet and get my rhythm back on the descent.

C! Was Stage 2 the steepest and fastest day you’ve done to this point in your career?

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SB This was definitely the most challenging stage with the terrain and the altitude. A hill is a hill, but approaching that steepness at that pace made it so much harder. Today never let up.

C! You are the first stagiaire for Team Novo Nordisk to make it past Stage 2 of the Tour of Utah, America’s Toughest Stage Race. Getting through a long opening stage and a summit finish second stage, how has it built your confidence?

SB It’s fantastic. I’m taking it a day at a time, but it’s nice to know that I can ride with these guys. I thought I could before but until you do it, you never know. It’s nice to see that I can compete and I’m building confidence every day.

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C! You come from a triathlon background so you have a lot of time trial experience. What are your thoughts on tomorrow’s race against the clock?

SB I’ve done one uphill time trial at home before and it wasn’t the greatest memory. It is full gas and there is nowhere to hide. I like being on my own and finding my own rhythm. I’m hoping I can do pretty well tomorrow. I’m setting my sights high and going for it.  I’m eager to show people that I’m not just here to race, but that I’m here to do well.

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All Photo Credits: VeloImages