Three riders from a top Shropshire cycling team have achieved huge success in the Masters Tour of Majorca – a Stage Race attracting talented amateur riders from all over Europe who have to be aged 30 plus.
Representing Rhino Velo Racing, a team mentored by well-known Shrewsbury cyclist Mike Jones, were Chris Pook, 33, of Shrewsbury-based estate agents Cooper Green Pooks, Matthew Garthwaite, 30, of Newport, and Matt Davies, 33, of Minsterley.
Liam Holohan, a Pro for Team Wiggins, provided tactical advice to the team members during the race as well as Mr Jones, who runs a cycling B&B in Foix, just south of Toulouse, called Rhino Velo Pyrenees
The final stage of the Vuelta Majorca Masters saw the cyclists take on 106 km on a rolling course.
Mr Garthwaite, who began the race in 8th position in the 30-40 age group, managed to break up the peloton, forcing Elite UK cycling team Nuun Sigma Sport, their biggest competition, to put all nine riders on the front, including the leader of the overall classification, who wearing the ‘Yellow Jersey’, had to start pulling on the front.
Mr Pook, who also sponsors the team along with Ben Lawrence, managing director of Shropshire insurance broker Beaumont Lawrence, said: “With just 400m to go, the peloton caught a very tired Mr Garthwaite but he definitely did the ride of the day.
“I managed to stay in the top 15 for the final 5km and it was crazy with riders taking huge risks.”
Mr Pook crossed the line in 12th position, taking 6th in the 30-40 age group.
He said: “We were all gutted not to see either Matt Davies or Matt Garthwaite on the overall podium as they spent the week proving their racing pedigree and made it into a very select group on the mountain stage.
“But we all want to come back next year and bring a slightly bigger team so we can have another go. It was a great week of racing.”
Mr Pook said both Mr Davies and Mr Garthwaite celebrated great success in other stages of the race. The stage three 7km time trial held on the outskirts of Port de Pollenca brought Mr Davies to 3rd position overall in the 30-40 classification but saw Mr Garthwaite slip from 1st to 8th position.
Mr Pook said: “Stage two was also great for Rhino Velo. It’s called the Queen Stage and was a 106 km race in 30 degrees heat with a big climb to navigate at the end of the race.
“The race involved two laps of a rolling course including a potential cross wind section between Alcudia and Port Pollensa before heading up Lluc. Liam did a recce in the morning and said it was worth trying to force a split in the cross wind.
“We had a go but couldn’t get Nuun Sigma Sport to pull too as they had a man in a break three minutes up the road. After a couple of minutes of going hard, we realised it wasn’t splitting so kept the powder dry for the big climb.”
Mr Pook said Mr Garthwaite cycled well in the last 20km against Nuun Sigma Sport cyclist Tom Harrison.
He said: “When the sprint opened up, Matt was strong enough to take second, just losing out to a German rider with Tom Harrison in third. Matt Davies came 9th and I came in 24th, safely tucked in the second group. The 30 and 40 age groups raced together so adjusted for age, Matt Garthwaite came first, Matt Davies a few places higher and I came in 16th.”
After the second stage, Mr Garthwaite was the overall leader on General classification.
Mr Pook said the team was pleased with its performance during the five day long race.
He said: “As a new cycling team, we are showing just what we are made of. The Tour of Majorca is a tough race and we put all our effort into it. We will definitely be back next year.”
For more information about Rhino Velo, see https://www.facebook.com/Rhino-Velo-Racing-1694907564097320/