As you may have seen across social media and on television, professional cyclist for Saint Piran, Tom Mazzone has had a pretty busy few weeks of racing.
Tom has raced over in France at the Grand Prix de la Somme, where he claimed the first professional victory ever for the team and one of the biggest wins in his career so far. A fantastic achievement in itself but also a great confidence boost ahead of the Tour of Britain starting in Cornwall one week later.
Going into arguably one of the hardest editions of the Tour of Britain ever, with a world-class field including current World Champion, Julian Alaphilippe, Belgian Champion and Olympic Medallist Wout van Aert, not to mention Mark Cavendish, the most successful sprinter of all-time, to name just a few!
His opportunities were already limited ahead of the race due to the brutal nature of the route, over the week they had 19,000m of elevation gain in 8 days and 1343 kilometres of racing. Tom commented, “personally, I had targeted Stages 5,7 and 8 as ones that suited me well and where I hoped to achieve my ambition of a Top 10 stage result.”
Starting in Cornwall, the race got underway from Penzance, with such incredible support on the roadside every inch of the way.
“It was amazing so many people willing us on through a very tough first 2 stages. My aim for these was to just try and get through with no issues and conserve as much energy as possible until Stage 5, which definitely wasn’t an easy task but gave me a chance to soak up a little bit of atmosphere in the first few stages.”
Lining up in Alderley Park for Stage 5 was where Tom’s race really started. All was going as planned with the team supporting him throughout the day ahead of an almost certain sprint finish until he got a rear puncture with under 25km to go until the finish.
“I had to stop and change the wheel before beginning to chase furiously through the cars to get back to the front of the race.”
But as Tom was working his way back, he suffered another puncture on his front tyre, resulting in him having to stop to change to wheel before the chase continued.
Tom worked his way back through the cars at speeds over 45mph. “I reached the back on the peloton with 7km to go, I managed to work my way back to the front and into a good position going into the final corner with 700m to go, to then get caught behind a crash!”
Although he had to stop, he continued to 29th place on the day. “This was massively frustrating but at the same time I took confidence from the fact I had the legs to be in the mix within the final kilometres, even after the issues and chase back on.”
Stage 7 was a tougher stage and in the end, was dominated by the 5-man breakaway but Tom still wanted to put himself in with a shot of a good stage result with 6th place and below still up for grabs.
“Unfortunately, I was again hit by more bad luck with another puncture, this time with only 15km to go, I tried so hard to get back to the group but it was impossible, even after reaching speeds over 55mph in the cars.”
Tom’s final opportunity was Stage 8, Stonehaven to Aberdeen, the last stage of the race.
Again, almost certain to be a sprint finish although it was a tough stage with climbs and crosswinds for most of the day, it all stayed together with Quick-Step, Jumbo Visma and Ineos all contributing to chase down the breakaway on the fast and furious run into Aberdeen.
“Thankfully, I had no issues in the final kilometres as I battled my way into a decent position amidst the chaos, in a super-fast tailwind finish managed to sprint to a 14th place finish.”
Initially, Tom was disappointed as he had targeted a Top 10 at the beginning of the week. However, with a couple of days reflection, Tom said “it was actually a result I can be proud of, especially after my bad luck in the earlier stages, a brutal week of racing and the calibre of riders who I was sprinting against.”
Tom is resting up a little this week ahead of his final block of racing and training to finish the season with some strong results in the National Road Series, some UCI races in France before the National Championships in October.
In case you missed it, I was lucky enough to interview Tom on my Island Influencers podcast, just before he headed to France. Listen here or search for Island Influencers in your favourite podcast player.