Domestique-icity suits Sam

SAM CULVERWELL finished up in southern France with a lingering grin from his maiden team outing on the UCI stage.

Sam Culverwell in his Trinity Racing team gear.
 (28715273)
Sam Culverwell in his Trinity Racing team gear. (28715273)

That he ended 67th in the general classification did not matter, for the four-day Ronde de l’Isard saw the Guernsey teenager tackle mountains for the first time, learn to race as a domestique, and even feature in the main break on one wonderful occasion.

This made a fine start and end to his rather brief season as a Trinity Road Racing representative.

The UCI category two stage race once more attracted some of the finest under-23 talent from Europe and beyond, with many of those riders having tuned up with other events on the Continent.

Ultimately, given that his primary role was to support teammates like Ben Healy and Thomas Gloag, Culverwell commented he had ‘fulfilled my role well’ and put the lack of individual results behind him.

‘I was very pleased with my performances as well, because when you have done those four days, you realise just how hard it is,’ he said.

‘On mountainous terrain like that, it’s not just sitting in the bunch – it’s every man for himself.

‘It makes the racing very hard and you fare well if you have got experience being at the front – if you do that a lot, it must make you a much better rider.

‘Compared to some of the guys who have got experience doing stage races, I think I have much room to improve just by doing more stage races, really.

‘It sets me in good stead for next year if things are more normal.’

Trinity, who finished ninth outfit overall, shared the collective joy of placing sixth in day two’s team time-trial despite a miscommunication from officials leading to them, and only them, competing on road bikes.

But in the case of young Culverwell, his moment of individual stardom came in the following day’s Saverdun to Ax-3 Domaines.

He managed to feature in the main break and contend for an individual place but then had to sacrifice his race to support Gloag, who was contesting the ‘GC’, such is the nature of team racing.

‘That’s what you do in a team,’ Culverwell added.

‘When I get to races that suit me more, I will get the same support from him.

‘It did take a couple of days to find my race legs, so while I got no results in the four days of racing, in terms of performance, I had some good performances, especially that breakaway day.’

Healy won the final stage and was eventually Trinity’s top-ranked rider, 21st overall.

Meanwhile, even putting results and performance aside, Culverwell was delighted to be back racing abroad.

‘It was awesome to be back racing, really.

‘It felt like a long time coming, basically a year since I was doing my last race in Belgium.

‘It was a really great experience and the racing was really awesome on that terrain – some really mountainous terrain, which made it pretty tough.’

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