Despite never having ridden on many of the roads of the route of the Tour of Britain, Team Garmin-Cervelo's British domestique Dan Lloyd cited local knowledge as the key to an impressive ride in his home Tour. Lloyd has found a way to replicate one of cycling's key advantages, an intricate understanding of the race route- normally acquired over years of racing, though self-confessed 'geekery' and an intelligent application of technology.
Lloyd, who spent two years riding for Cervelo, before being one of the select few riders to be absorbed into the Garmin-Cervelo set up this year, has been carving out a niche as a reliable domestique for riders such as Thor Hushovd throughout the year, and made the most of his opportunity to shine in his home Tour. His detailed preparation included spending several hours programming the route into his Garmin so he could be familiar with every metre of the course.
"It's always great to come back and race on British roads, the sport is growing massively here and the support was unbelievable. It is something of an advantage to be at home in that respect, but just being in the country of my birth doesn't mean I know all the ins and outs of every stage. Fortunately this year I've worked out that I can get every detail I need of what is coming up in a stage through my Garmin".
"Initially I started using the Garmin to plan rides in foreign countries the day before races. It wasn't long before I realized how useful it would be during races. If you use it right, it makes every stage feel like you are on home roads when you know exactly what's coming up, it's been a real advantage since race radios were banned".
"Each stage in Britain probably took me half an hour or so to plan out using the race manual. I'm a bit geeky though so I don't mind doing it".
To Lloyd the information proved invaluable as it helped him be part of the decisive split on stage 3 to Stoke, when team Sky splintered the race in strong crosswinds.
"On the stage to Stoke, I used the map page to let me know exactly when we would be turning into crosswinds and I made sure I was in the first ten when that happened. On those stages when it is all about positioning, you have to know when to be in the right place, otherwise you use up way too much energy unnecessarily fighting to be at the front all day".
After making the decisive selection on stage 3, Lloyd craftily took advantage of knowing the route to sneak a three second time bonus on stage 4 and spent of the week in the top three overall.
"You can put in 'points of interest' into the Garmin 800, which to me are obviously things like sprints, feed zones or K.O.M's. In a race like the Tour of Britain, where the time gaps are small and you often have big groups finishing together, the G.C. can be decided on time bonuses alone. I paid attention on stage 4, and when I knew we were close, slipped away and took three seconds".
"Cycling is always changing, as is technology, and with race radios seemingly having come and gone it's clear that there is a gap that technology can fill here. Information in cycling is a massive advantage, I can know exactly when a climb will change gradient, how far a little flat bit might be, and how far the top is. It makes a huge difference, and if you have it right there why not use it?"
Lloyd's idea was swiftly adopted by his teammates on the race, who were all quite keen to have as much information as possible available, both for in the race as well as occasionally after.
"Some of the other riders in the team have asked me to put it on their units as well. I even made a 60km route for after Saturday's stage for a couple of riders on the team who wanted to get in a 260km ride before the Worlds".
Lloyd eventually finished in 10th place on the general classification and was greeted with the news that he would be first reserve for the strong British team for the upcoming World Championships in Copenhagen next weekend.