Oli Stockwell limbering up for World Championships after enjoyable Tour of Britain debut

Oli Stockwell (left) next to world champion Julian Alaphilippe and eventual winner Wout van Aert at the Tour of Britain.

Oli Stockwell (left) next to world champion Julian Alaphilippe and eventual winner Wout van Aert at the start line on stage one of the Tour of Britain. - Credit: SWPIX.COM

With the air of the laidback teenager he is, Oli Stockwell said mixing it with some of the world's best cyclists at the Tour of Britain was an enjoyable experience and which will stand him in good stead in the years to come.

The 19-year-old former Welwyn Wheeler and Verulam School pupil found himself not just up against the likes of Wout van Aert, Julian Alaphilippe and Mark Cavenidsh for the first time but he more than held his own, coming 34th overall and even featuring in the break on the opening day of the eight-stage race which ended in Aberdeen on Sunday.

"It was a new experience," he said. "I haven’t done a race that big before so racing against the World Tour guys was different. 

"But it was pretty good.

"I had to make sure I didn’t crash into them or anything. You don’t want to ride into them and annoy them.

"I didn’t expect to be miles off the pace and I did have a few worries when they decided to go flat out. 

"But I was comfortable with how the legs were and how I was going. 

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"I was pretty tired at the end of the week and if I’d had more of a break between the Tour de l’Avenir and this, it may have been better. 

"I was in pretty good form coming into it with a good block of racing. I felt prepared."

His adventure off the front on the roads through Cornwall to Bodmin saw him the last of the five escapees to be hauled in, his late push coming after he thought "Ived been out here for this long, I might as well give it a little push".

But his breakthrough moment perhaps came on the race's queen stage finishing up the steep Great Orme in Llandudno where he crossed the line in 15th place and just 41 seconds behind stage winner van Aert.

At one point he was piloted unknowingly to the front by Ethan Hayter, the race leader at the time.

"I really enjoyed that stage," he said. "It was a good stage to race in. 

"It dragged up before we got to the final climb up the Great Orme and that was tough, they were going flat out along there and I was getting pushed around a bit, 

"Getting to the bottom of the climb was a bit of a relief actually." 

The race should put him in the perfect form for the U23 World Championship in Flanders on September 24 where he is part of a five-man GB squad.

He said: "I hope to go well even if I may be in more of a supportive role for some of the older guys on the team. 

"But it could also be one of those races where I could find myself at the front and in a position to go for it." 

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