Jersey resident Jack Rebours proved a surprising but popular winner of the 2017 Knight Composites Classic Time Trial Series, winning two rounds and finishing in the top three in the other three events he rode.
The 21-year-old clocked up thousands of miles as he flew, drove and rode his way to the title, taking part in all but one of the six rounds of the increasingly popular series.
In the latest of our features looking back at highlights of the 2017 season, Rebours recounts how he secured the series.
Was the series a particular target for your 2017 season?
Yes, the series was my main target for the year. I knew at the outset that if that I achieved five top five performances I would become eligible for selection for the 2018 Commonwealth Games. I saw the series as my best chance for selection so I put everything I had into it!
How does it rank in terms of your previous wins and successes?
In terms of time trialling in the UK this is my greatest and only success to date! I have had success in Jersey where I hold most of the senior course records and at the Island Games Time Trial where I achieved fourth in 2015 and second last year. However, until last year I had only raced my TT bike in the UK once and had no results to speak of!
Obviously you live in the Channel Islands. How much of a problem was all the travelling and mileage?
Luckily travelling and seeing new places is something I enjoy and for the most part the series felt like a big adventure. That said it was hectic! I raced five of the six rounds over eight weeks and it took over a dozen flights to get me to and from all of the races!
With full time work and training to fit in it did present a challenge, but as the series progressed and I became more organised and it became a lot more routine and manageable. My Dad agreed to travel with me and drive to each of the events. It was great having him along for company and a bit of a laugh, which took the edge off the journeys.
I would like to say a big thank you from me to the Caesarean Cycling Club for their support which made it possible for me to compete, to Knight Composites for their sponsorship of the series and all the helpers and volunteers who gave up their time to run the events.
Please talk us through each of the rounds:
R1 – Wimborne Dorset:
This was my first TT of the year! I had trained well throughout the winter but I wasn’t entirely sure what I had in the legs. The conditions on the day were perfect for spring and the course was varied and fast, it definitely felt good to be cruising along at 28.5mph after a winter of steadier training rides!
I felt strong for the first 19 miles but the last five miles hurt and I had to dig deep to hold it to the finish. I clocked 50:27; I knew the previous course record was 51:16. Beating the course record gave me some reassurance a top five was on the cards but I knew the competition was strong and had an anxious wait for the confirmation! On the day I was third, I was thrilled to come away with a strong result right out the blocks and left looking forward to the next race at Buxton!
R2 – Longnor, Staffs:
The Buxton Mountain TT was epic! The race was 33 miles and consisted of three laps of a testing 11-mile circuit complete with tough climbs, fast descents and technical sections on grippy northern roads. We arrived late the night before the race and as a result I only had the opportunity to ride part of the course.
It wasn’t ideal as on race day the course was soaking wet and not knowing it too well I had to really back off down the descents and through the corners on the first lap. I was well over a minute down on Brett Harwood, the eventual winner at the end of lap one. I then clawed back all but 26 seconds of this over the two remaining laps, and my third lap was fastest as despite fatigue I had become familiar with the course and was carrying as much speed as possible through the technical sections.
Despite the conditions the event still drew a good crowd who created a great atmosphere and contributed to what was a fantastic event.
R3 – Great Witley, Worcs:
This was undoubtedly my best ride in the series.
This time the course was 37 miles long, before Buxton I had only ever raced TTs of up to 25 miles so it was new territory! However, I had drawn a lot of confidence from Buxton and arrived full of motivation. Having finished third then second, momentum was with me and it was all about winning a round. I felt strong for the entire race and remember it as being one of the best days I have had on a bike!
There were two significantly steep climbs that characterised the circuit. I went all out over the first as I knew I would recover on the long descent afterward. I didn’t plan too much for the second and final climb up Shelsey Walsh as the top of it was the finish line and I trusted in myself that I would hit it with everything I had left!
On the approach I purposely railed the corner at the bottom of the climb to propel myself as far up it as possible - but the gradient soon put the brakes on! The climb was half a mile long with an average gradient of 11% and sections of 16% and with 36.5 miles of flat out effort in the legs I definitely felt it! I crossed the finish line absolutely knackered but knowing I had gone well. When I found out I had won by over a minute a half I was made up and shocked, it was a great moment.
R4 – Loch Leven, Scotland:
In terms of travel the Scottish round was by far the most difficult. I spent almost the entire day before the race travelling, first by plane and then we had a long drive through the highlands. Whilst it may not have been ideal preparation the scenery on the drive was spectacular so I just relaxed and appreciated it.
On race day the conditions were wet. However, the course was only undulating and fairly straight forward with no wind to account for. Whilst my ride was solid I finished thinking that on another day I would be capable of more. I believe that by now the series had taken a bit out of me. Traveling and making all the arrangements associated with each trip had eaten away at my training time and it had started to impact my form. I was well beaten by a first class ride from John Archibald but still pleased to come away with second.
R5 – Greystoke Forest, Cumbria:
For me Greystoke Forest was a tough round. Whilst we were travelling up to the Lake District the day before the race it was absolutely lashing down. It was another long journey and all I could fit in that day to loosen up was 45 minutes on a wattbike.
During the race my power wasn’t as free flowing as it had been in previous rounds and combined with the speed-killing spray-chipped roads under wheel it made for a hard 28 miles! I had to hurt myself to grind out the result.
I knew that if I won the round I would win the series overall and having that as motivation proved enough for me to produce a race-winning performance, albeit just 11 seconds ahead of my friend George Evans. Winning the round was special as with it I took the series. I had started the series off hoping for top five, and finished it having won it!
What are your targets for 2018?
The Commonwealth Games Time Trial in April is my major target. I am also hoping to produce a good performance in the road race. Aside from the games I am looking forward to racing with my new team, HJL, in national level road races and time trials across the UK. The British National U23 TT and National 25 will also be target races for me.
How is your winter training going?
I’m currently coached by Dr Garry Palmer and training has been going really well. I went out to Tenerife for two weeks recently and completed the most intense block I have ever done. I continued the block until the end of December, at which point I the fatigue had set in and I was fighting to finish interval sets. Garry then set me some easier training on the back of the block and I’m now going really well, I have a ramp test tomorrow morning so I’ll find out exactly how well then! I don’t focus too much on mileage but on average I complete around 12 hours of on-bike training a week with some core work and stretching thrown in.
How did you get into time trialling/cycling?
I was 16 and had played football for as long as I could remember, I really enjoyed it. But I wanted to try something more challenging so I persuaded my Dad to help me buy a bike.
I started riding with my Dad’s cousin Jean at weekends and just got quicker and stronger every time I rode, the early days were awesome! I still played football for a club for a year after that and played my last competitive match as captain of my college’s first XI at 18. However, by this point I was hooked on cycling, trying to set new PBs and feeling myself go from strength to strength.
What other sports do you do (or have you done in the past)?
I have tried almost everything you can think of! I currently only have time for cycling. However, I learnt to surf and ski when I was younger and like being on the beach or up in the mountains and I hope to pick these sports back up sometime soon.
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