Proud Wheelers celebrate trio’s national charge

From left: Fareham Wheelers trio James Copeland, Gary Chambers and Paul Ashley in action in Devon. Picture: Brian Jones, kimroy-photography.co.uk
From left: Fareham Wheelers trio James Copeland, Gary Chambers and Paul Ashley in action in Devon. Picture: Brian Jones, kimroy-photography.co.uk
Kirsty McSeveney, second left. Picture: Habibur Rahman (171049-37)

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Fareham Wheelers have spoken of their pride in team time trial heroes James Copeland, Gary Chambers and Paul Ashley.

The trio finished fourth in the 2016 National TTT Championships in Devon earlier this month.

Clocking a time of 1hr 10min 51sec on a lumpy 32.5-mile course, they were only nudged off the podium by outfits with significant financial backing.

Hampshire-based professionals Pedal Heaven took the victory in 1.07.40, with SSLL (1.08.19) second and Team Bottrill (1.09.39) rounding out the podium positions.

But the Fareham trio can be proud of their efforts in the 47-team event.

Wheelers secretary Roger de Vere said: ‘It was fantastic. Really, really good.

‘It was not really a time trial course, either, but they learned a lot.

‘The course was on the edge of Dartmoor, so it wasn’t flat.

‘There were some lovely long downhills, where we discovered Paul was undergeared. But then there were long drags uphill, too.

‘They are not too comfortable going downhill, through twists and turns, on the bars.

‘It’s almost like skiing rather than cycling, where it is all body.

‘That is a technique all of its own but it is something they will learn.

‘The main thing we learned was they had not done enough training together but that is very hard when you are not professionals.

‘They have only been together for a few weeks and obviously have their own personal commitments.

‘We were up against pros, so it was a fantastic achievement.

‘You can’t argue with fourth against people like Pedal Heaven, Team Swift and Team Bottrill.

‘They are virtually full-time cyclists – their day job is cycling.

‘But there were lots of teams who are sponsored below us, so it makes us very proud as a club.’

The trio were seeded four for the test and despite sitting fifth on the time sheets through the first two splits, powered home to justify that billing.

Their display underlines the rude health of the Wheelers’ time trialling ranks at present.

But de Vere is determined to build on their progress.

He added: ‘Now we need to get that conveyor belt working and move on another level.

‘We are looking at ourselves and asking how we can do things better.

‘There were two races on the A3 recently and we took the team prize in both.

‘We had three guys in the top 10 of each and the guys around them were from sponsored clubs.

‘So we are going very well at the moment but we have got to emulate that with our road racing, too.’