Our man with his finger on the Flanders pulse, Vik, first tipped us off about this gentleman at the end of the 2011 season. Llewellyn Kinch was getting up there on the Belgian results websites and onto Vik’s radar.
Here are the background questions we asked, from the end of the 2011 season.
Did you race much in the UK before heading for the Heartland, Llewellyn?
“I did my first couple of races in 2007, having been given a bike for my 16th birthday.
“I was intending to do a bit more the next season but in April I managed to snowboard into a pretty large sign and wrapped my leg around one of its posts.
“I snapped my tibia and fibula so that was that season over.
“I raced my first full season in 2009 with GWR team and have continued to race with them until this year.
“They are a team aiming to develop UK riders and give them experience racing abroad, as they did for me.
“I won a few University National Track and Time Trial Championships in the UK but not that much else.”
What’s a Cambridge University student doing racing in Flanders, and why Belgium, not France?
“Well, I graduated this June and GWR Team had formed a link with Terra Footwear-Bicycle line, so I came to Belgium to race with Terra this summer.
“I also spent a couple of weeks racing here last season, so knew it was the best place to be.
“It was really difficult fitting enough training in at the same time as studying hard for my degree.
“Next year, (2012) without having to study as well as train, I’ll be a lot stronger and hopefully have much better results!”
How did you get set up with a club?
“I was originally put in touch with GWR team through some guys at a local club, when they decided I’d got a bit too strong to be coming on their Sunday run.
“I’ve raced with GWR since then and they provided the link so that I could ride for Terra this year and hopefully eventually progress to be a pro now my degree is over.”
Does the club look after you – bike, jersey, bonuses?
“GWR team provide a bike and all my kit as well as support at bigger races.
“Terra also looked after me brilliantly in all the races I’ve done with them this year.
“They had an excellent team to look after us during and after racing at the Fleche Du Sud.”
Tell us about your 2011 palmares.
I was seventh in the Tesco Rutland-Melton International Cicle Classic (UK/UCI 1.2).
“I was really pleased with this result as it’s a great race; I hope to come back far stronger for it next year.
“And I was 12th and 17th on stages 1 and 4 of the Fleche Du Sud (Luxembourg/UCI 2.2).
“Was pretty pleased with how I went in that race considering my finals finished the day before and I’d spent a ridiculous amount of time in the library since the end of March.
“I’ve also had two wins, a third and four fourth places in Belgian Kermises this season.
“Not too bad seeing as I’ve only ridden 13.”
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And that was how 2011 went – so we thought we’d best catch up and see how 2012 was for Mr. Kinch.
How were the programme and palmares for 2012, Llewellyn?
“We had a great program for 2012; with plenty of stage races and UCI 1.2’s.
“My best results were in stage races: a stage win and 3rd overall at Tour De La Manche; 6th overall at Tour Du Loiret as well as 6th in the prologue and 2nd for the sprints jersey at Tour de Savoie (UCI 2.2).
“I also had well over a dozen podium placings in various races throughout the season.”
How long did you spend in Flanders in 2012?
“I was there for a full six months, with only a weekend break in the middle for a trip to Budapest with some mates.”
What was the hi-lite of your Flanders campaign?
“A lot of my best results during 2012 were in French races but my best result in Flanders was my win at Wachtebeke.
“It was particularly sweet because I punctured when in the break, then I got a wheel change but was back in the peloton.
“With a few laps to go I soloed back to the break and finally I attacked to take the win.”
Did you ride much in the UK in 2012?
“I didn’t race a single event in the UK during the season.
“Although, I did just do the Didcot Phoenix Boxing Day TT, complete with a Santa hat in place of an aero helmet!”
Is British Cycling paying you any attention?
“Not that I’m aware of!”
Were you happy with your progress in 2012?
“Yes, I improved a lot from 2011.
“Although, I must admit more than strength I need to improve my tactics when it comes close to the finish!”
Are you back with the same set up for 2013?
“No, I’m riding with French Division 1 team CC Villeneuve St Germain for 2013.
“I enjoyed all my races in France this year and so decided I would race there in 2013 if I could.”
What’s the toughest thing about the ‘Flemish existence’?
“Living with only a bunch of bike riding blokes in the middle of nowhere.
“We were only three kilometres from a town but the problem is if you’re not training then you’re recovering so it’s difficult to get out of the house.”
How were the accommodation/catering?
“The accommodation was fine and we cooked the evening meal together so it tended to be reasonably good.
“A lot of pasta and rice was involved!”
How do you get out to races – team car or ride?
“If the race was a local kermis then I’d usually ride out to get a few extra kilometres in.
“For the bigger races the team always provided transport and there was also a car we could use for local races if we wanted to (if it was raining!).”
How’s the Vlaams coming along?
How much of a break from training did you take over the winter?
“It was about a month.
“I think it’s essential to have a good break; to recover mentally as much as physically.”
Is your training going alright?
“Really well, so far.
“I’ve just had four weeks in Spain so got some really good base miles done in the sun.
“I’m now doing a block of strength work and getting the long rides in when the British weather gives me a chance!”
What’s your take on the Lance mess?
“Literally everyone asks this if they find out I’m a cyclist.
“Yet I still don’t really have a very good answer!
“In my opinion it’s fairly pointless to strip him of his titles as most people in the race are implicated in some doping scandal or other.
“The main focus should be making sure that those currently in positions of power, within the cycling world are in no way implicated.”
Is the ‘D-word’ a problem that you’ve noticed in Belgium?
“It’s not something I’ve really noticed but there are plenty of riders who are considered fairly dodgy.
“I guess there are probably a few times when I’ve lost out because of people who have their own set of rules.”
What are you looking for from 2013?
“I want to make sure I don’t make any of the tactical mistakes of 2012 and combining that with the fact I’ll be a lot stronger should get me a lot of good results.
“And I’d really like to win a stage race overall; perhaps with a stage win or two along the way.
“Basically, I need to get the results I’m capable of so that I can step up a level for 2014!”
Best of luck to Llewellyn this season, and with thanks for his time and the use of his photos.