Tour of Kosovo - stage 1 - Race report - Team Car perspective - Neale Watkins reporting:
Day started on a bit of a low with the sad news that Cameron Fosterwould not be able to start the race after an ankle injury. Teams staying at the hotel gathered to depart for HQ and ceremony with a police escort. The sun was already strong, it was going to be a hot one.
We arrived at the start where the boys were presented to the public and official signing took place. Then the roll out to the start through the twisty streets of Pristina. After a short delay through a road traffic accident the boys rolled out and immediately Dominic Schils and Alex Ashman went off the front. This lasted a few kilometres but was brought back in. Then Alex went again with two other riders and stretched out a bit of a gap. The Team car was called to feed Alex and this break stuck for around 30k. The feed slowed us to get to the side of the road and feed our riders on the way through.
The third break saw the peloton split in two with Dom, David Reece and Matty Dobbing in the break. There was about 25 riders in this group working well and got a gap of around 1 min 40 secs. Feeding became interesting between the two groups but mechanic Arwel James coped extremely well for his first time.
Then 12 riders from the bunch broke away to try and catch the front group and up the climb this dropped to 4 riders with one of them being Ryan Watkins. They worked hard and eventually caught them just after the intermediate sprint. Now there were two clear groups on the road and we made the decision to support the four in the main break knowing full well that Alex would be supported by the race organisers in the second group. Into the last 30km and the boys were feeding well but the heat was intense. The final two gradual climbs started to sap energy out of riders but not the TBW23 riders. All four remained in the group until the final incline but managed to secure top 20 positions. It was a tough day in that heat and all credit to the boys for being in every break and working so hard. Positions:
Dom Schils 4th
Matty Dobbings 15th
Ryan Watkins 18th
David Reece 19th.
Matty Dobbings 2nd U23
Ryan Watkins 4th U23
Team Classification 3rd.
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