As the debate over which WorldTour pros competing in the Under-23 races at the World Championships rages on, Friday’s men’s road race is said to be one of the last flourishes for a number of the 177 starters before heading to the WorldTour themselves.
Race winner Filippo Baroncini was among them, the Italian going to Trek-Segafredo next season, as was the fifth, Briton Lewis Askey. The 20-year-old will move from the Groupama-FDJ development team to the main team next year, joining compatriot Jake Stewart, who has done the same for 2021.
Askey has already competed in several races within the senior team, following UCI rules allowing teams to give riders on the development team a higher level experience before going pro, with Scheldeprijs and Tro -Bro Léon on his calendar this year. Speaking after Friday’s race, he said he was excited to be heading to the WorldTour in 2022.
“I am really excited to be part of the WorldTour team and I already feel at home with them,” said Askey. “I hope Jake and I can do some good things next year.
“It doesn’t sound as amazing or a step as big as I thought it would because I already ran a lot with the guys last year and I get along with everyone there so it’s like kind of integrating driving with the same guys. Yeah, I’m really excited to see what we can do in some big races next year.
Askey, from Cannock in Staffordshire, has enjoyed a consistent 2021 campaign, with his Worlds result seventh in the top five of the year, including third and fourth places on the Tour de l’Avenir stages.
He was in contention for a medal in Leuven, leading the charge in the sprint seconds behind solo winner Baroncini. 300 meters from the finish, Askey led the pursuit group as they sprinted towards the line, but was passed before the line, first by Italy’s Michele Gazzoli and Dutchman Olav Kooij, before that Eritrean Biniam Girmay does not overtake them all. for the second.
Fifth place was not the result for which he and Great Britain had come to Belgium, Askey said, adding that while he was disappointed with the result, he was happy with the way the race had turned out. in general.
“We came here for the win, so happy that’s not really the word. It’s fifth at the World Championships but at the end of the day we came here to win, and we didn’t come away with it. that, ”Askey said. “I think if we’re going to be happy it’s because of the way the boys rode because they rode really well. I don’t think we could have done much more in this situation.
“Me and Sam [Watson] did not feel unbelievable amazing but at the end of a race like this you will never get there. We both sprinted for ourselves, both starting at different points in the peloton, so if it was better to be ahead or go further we had someone there.
“In the end, it was – I didn’t really know what happened up front, but there were gaps and I had to go very, very early and get on the line because the medals were going. In the end I gave the guys a really good lead in my steering wheel, but it’s racing – you can’t always have it the way you want it. “
During a race marred by accidents, Askey was among the many casualties, falling early and suffering from saddle and gear problems as a result. He said, however, that the race largely went as planned after this early incident.
“That’s why you have to be in the front even from the start, and I was trying to be a little too relaxed trying to save energy and I slid a little more back and then you end up wasting a little more energy because you get caught behind crashes and you have to do big digs.
“Maybe I spent a little too much energy there but as soon as I realized I made sure to go straight ahead with the boys and it was a really good race after that.
“Obviously we knew watching the juniors run it was going to be a forward criticism. Weirdly, as soon as that happened it wasn’t super hard. On the last lap I was a bit annoyed that i lost a bit of speed on the steep climb. i expected it to go, and i was ready for it to go and i felt good, then i got caught behind people who were backing up, so I was a little offended that I didn’t go. “
Fifth place on the charts, Askey is now looking towards the end of the year and his arrival at Groupama-FDJ next season. Having combined road, mountain biking and cyclo-cross in his career so far, he will continue to do so in the future, another multidisciplinary addition to the pro peloton. He’s making a discipline change for next week, actually.
“I’m mountain biking on Sunday with the aim of being selected for the Commonwealth Games [in Birmingham – Ed.] next year which is just outside my house pretty much. It would be really cool if I could do that, “he said.” I have the Ronde de l’Isard, Paris-Tours, then the National Championships. Then I’ll do three weeks of XC ending with the European Championships, so I’ll be pretty busy, but I’ll make sure I have a good offseason after that. “