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Ross Lamb – “You don’t get so many opportunities to climb in Belgium”

"In Belgium you learn how to handle your bike and you have to be able to sprint so improving my climbing [in France] will round me off as a rider."

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It doesn’t seem like it but it was season 2017 when last we spoke to Ross Lamb, a David Rayner Fund man ‘doing good’ in The Flatlands.

Flanders gets under a man’s skin so we were surprised to hear he was moving to La Belle France – that said, times are tough with teams folding everywhere from the UK to Columbia and all points in between.

But that was our first question…

Ross Lamb
Ross is joining GSC Blagnac for 2019. Photo©supplied

Why the move, Ross?

“It’s a pretty strange one, I was trying to sort out a team; my squad T.Palm–PCW, told us on October 1st that the team wouldn’t be continuing into 2019.

“That was disappointing because I’d been talking to teams but had turned opportunities down – and now the market is pretty difficult.

“But of the blue Ali Slater messaged me to tell that there was an opportunity with GSC Blagnac V.S. 31, they’re a French Division One team. I didn’t chose them, it’s just the way it turned out.”

What’s the Blagnac setup like?

“Apparently it’s one of the oldest clubs in France, founded in 1897, they’re very professional in approach with nice vehicles and good staff.

“Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne winner and Tour de France stage winner, Fred Moncassin and ex-French pro road and time trial champion, Nicolas Vogondyare among the management team.

“Sky DS and ex-pro, Nicolas Portal; former World u23 Champion and l’Avenir winner, Romain Sicard and Tour de France stage winner Blel Kadri all came up through their ranks.”

Ross Lamb
The move from kermis to stage racing is one Ross is looking forward to. Photo©supplied

Is your accommodation sorted out?

“Yeah, there’s an apartment for us in a town south of Toulouse; I’ve ‘Google Earthed’it and it’s a house on an estate in a village pretty close to the Pyrenees.

“There’ll be a couple of other guys there too – British and Irish.”

How’s the programme looking?

“It’s not fully sorted but it’ll be races like the Tour de Normandie, Ronde de l’Oise and of course, all the Coupe de France races.

“One of the attractions for me is that I’ll be riding more stage races, there’s not so much opportunity for stage racing in Belgium.”

Ross Lamb
Ross is keen to develop his climbing skills. Photo©supplied

Wee bit of a difference in parcours between Flanders and France…

“There’ll be lots of opportunities for me to work on my climbing, you don’t get so many opportunities to climb in Belgium.

“It’s a bit of a risk for me but that said I was looking back on races I’ve done which had climbs in them I’ve performed well enough.

“In Belgium you learn how to handle your bike and you have to be able to sprint so improving my climbing will round me off as a rider.”

And you’ll have British and Irish team mates?

“Yes, Charlie Calvert, Harrison Jones, Elliot Redfern and Ben Walsh – that makes the transition easier, they’ve been over and know what’s what.

“I didn’t actually sign until recently so haven’t been over.”

You said it was Ali Slater who made the connection?

“Yes, we’d met earlier in the year and he must have seen that I was going to be without a team for 2019.

“He knew a French talent scout, a chap called Christophe Andre was looking for a team leader for a French team for next year.

“I train in the UK with Russ Downing and Russ was telling me good things about Christophe.”

Ross Lamb
Ross has won some tough races in Belgium, which isn’t easy. Photo©supplied

How has 2018 been for you?

“I had a win in March but mid-season I crashed pretty badly and was out for a while but came back to win an Inter-club and got the jersey on TV quite a few times.

“Inter-clubs aren’t UCI [ranked] so folks in the UK maybe don’t rate them but they’re very hard races.”

We list some of Ross’s palmarès below;

  • 3rd – Circuit de Wallonie 2018
  • 3rd – Memorial Van Coningsloo 2017
  • 6th – Grand Prix Albert Fauville 2018
  • 1st – Memorial Stanny Verlooy – Aartselaar 2018
  • 11th – Circuit de Wallonie 2017
  • 2nd – Stan Ockers Classic 2018
  • 13th – GP Stad Sint-Niklaas 2017
  • 20th – GP Stad Zottegem 2018
  • 2nd – Zandhoven 2017